Five Cretan Vegan Recipes for the Summer

Whether you’re a seasoned vegan or just curious about incorporating more plant-based meals into your diet, these five Cretan vegan recipes will satisfy your appetite. From light and zesty salads to hearty and flavorful mains, we have something for everyone.

1. Spanakorizo

This dish combines the freshness of spinach with the heartiness of rice, making it a perfect choice for a healthy and satisfying summer meal.

Spanakorizo is a traditional Greek dish packed with nutritional benefits. The combination of spinach and rice provides vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Spinach is rich in antioxidants, vitamins A and C, and iron, while rice offers energy and is an excellent carbohydrate source. Additionally, this dish is low in fat and cholesterol, making it a healthy choice for those looking to maintain a balanced diet.


To prepare this flavorful dish, you will need:

  • 1 pound fresh spinach, rinsed and chopped (or 1 cup of frozen spinach, thawed and drained)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup chopped garlic
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped dill or fresh chopped mint (or a combination of both)
  • 1 tbsp dried Cretan herbs
  • 1 cup white rice (medium grain)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • Optional: 1/4 cup tomato paste dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water


Follow these simple steps to create a tantalizing Greek Spinach and Rice – Spanakorizo:

  1. In a large pan, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the chopped onions and garlic, and sauté gently until they become translucent and fragrant.
  2. Add the salt, pepper, dried Cretan herbs, and your choice of fresh chopped dill or mint (or both). Stir well to combine the flavors.
  3. If you prefer to include tomato in your dish, now is the time to add the optional tomato paste dissolved in warm water.
  4. Next, add the fresh spinach to the pan. If using frozen spinach, ensure it is thawed and well-drained before adding it to the mixture. Stir everything together until the spinach wilts and cooks down.
  5. Add the white rice and water to the pan, ensuring the rice is fully submerged in the liquid. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil.
  6. Once the liquid is boiling, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Allow the Spanakorizo to simmer gently for approximately 20-25 minutes or until the rice is cooked and tender.
  7. Once the rice is fully cooked, remove the pan from heat and let it sit, covered, for a few minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
  8. Serve the Greek Spinach and Rice – Spanakorizo hot and fresh. Consider garnishing it with a wedge of lemon.

2. Greek Lentil Soup-Fakes

This rich and flavorful soup has a thick and creamy texture, making it a comforting meal option. It is a source of plant-based protein and provides a good amount of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Lentils, the star ingredient of this soup, are a nutritional powerhouse. They are a great source of plant-based protein and offer essential amino acids essential for muscle development and repair. Lentils are also high in dietary fiber, which aids digestion and helps maintain a healthy weight. They are also rich in iron, folate, and potassium, contributing to overall well-being.


To make Greek Lentil Soup-Fakes, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried lentils (green or brown)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional garnish: olive oil and red wine vinegar


  1. Rinse the lentils under cold water to remove any debris. Drain well.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  3. Add the chopped onion, carrot, and minced garlic to the saucepan. Cook and stir until the onion is softened and translucent, approximately 5 minutes.
  4. Add the rinsed lentils to the saucepan and pour in the water or vegetable broth.
  5. Add the bay leaves, dried oregano, and rosemary to the saucepan.
  6. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover the saucepan, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
  7. Stir in the tomato paste and season with salt and pepper according to taste.
  8. Cover the saucepan and continue simmering the soup, stirring occasionally, until the lentils have softened. This will take around 30 to 40 minutes. Add more water to achieve the desired consistency if the soup becomes too thick.
  9. The soup is ready to be served once the lentils are tender and the flavors have melded together.
  10. Optionally, drizzle each serving with olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar to enhance the flavors.

3. Cretan Fava Spread

Fava, a traditional dish made from yellow split peas, is a delicious and creamy appetizer for any occasion. This flavorful dip is popular in Crete and can be served as a tasty appetizer with pita bread or a spread on sandwiches.


To make the Cretan Fava spread, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup of yellow split peas
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh parsley for garnish


  1. Start by rinsing the yellow split peas in cold water to remove impurities. In a large pot, combine the split peas and water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface.
  2. Reduce the heat to low and let the split peas simmer for about 25-30 minutes or until they become tender and mushy. Make sure to stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Once cooked, drain any excess water and set aside.
  3. In a separate pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic to the pan and sauté until they become translucent and fragrant.
  4. Add the cooked yellow split peas to the pan with the sautéed onion and garlic. Mix everything and cook for a few more minutes, allowing the flavors to meld—Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth and creamy. If the mixture is too thick, add a little water or lemon juice to achieve the desired consistency.
  6. Once blended, transfer the Cretan fava spread to a serving bowl. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil on top and sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley or capers for a pop of color and added flavor.

4. Briam – Roasted Vegetables

This recipe takes roasted vegetables to a whole new level of deliciousness. You can create a dish bursting with Cretan flavors with just a few simple pantry ingredients like potatoes, zucchini, eggplant, red onions, and tomatoes.


  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 medium red onions
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 3 large potatoes, scrubbed, peeled if desired
  • 2 zucchini
  • 2 large bell peppers, seeded
  • ⅓ to ⅔cup extra virgin olive oil, to taste
  • 1 can tomatoes, drained (reserve liquid)
  • 2 tablespoons dried Cretan herbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Thinly slice the vegetables to ensure they cook evenly. If your red onion is large, cut it in half before slicing.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, toss the vegetables with all the flavor makers: salt, pepper, spices, garlic, and a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil. Make sure everything is well coated.
  3. Grab a round baking pan or an oven-safe skillet (an 11-inch round pan works well). Spread diced tomatoes from a can on the bottom, then assemble the veggies in rows around the perimeter of the pan, alternating until the pan is filled and no veggies are left. If you don’t have time to arrange the veggies this way, you can skip the step and spread them on top of the tomato layer. This will give you a casserole-style dish. Alternatively, you can use a large au gratin or rectangular baking dish instead of a round pan.
  4. Once the veggies are assembled in the pan, pour any remaining olive oil-garlic mixture over them and finish with more diced tomatoes.
  5. Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C) and bake the briam for about 1 hour until the vegetables are tender and nicely roasted.
  6. Serve your briam as a main course or as a side dish accompanied by warm bread.

Vegan Greek Salad

Made with fresh tomatoes, crisp cucumber, briny olives, and tangy red onion, this salad is bursting with flavor.


  1. Tomatoes: Grape, cherry, Roma, or regular tomatoes can be used, depending on your preference.
  2. Onion: Red onion adds a pop of color, but feel free to use any onion you have on hand. If your kids aren’t fans of onion, try grating it instead of chopping it.
  3. Cucumber: English cucumbers work well in this recipe, but you can use any variety. Depending on your preference, you can peel the cucumber or leave the skin on.
  4. Olives: Traditional Greek salads use Kalamata olives, but you can also use a combination of Kalamata and green olives. If you prefer, you can substitute black olives.
  5. Avocado: While not a traditional ingredient in Greek Salad, chopped avocado adds a creamy and balanced flavor.
  6. Vegan Feta Cheese: Top your salad with a delicious vegan feta cheese. You can use a homemade vegan feta recipe or store-bought vegan cheese.

Creating the Perfect Greek Salad

  1. Begin by gathering all your ingredients. Wash the tomatoes, cucumber, and onion. Slice the tomatoes in half, dice the cucumber, thinly slice the red onion, and chop the avocado into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Combine the tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, olives, and avocado in a large bowl.
  3. Add the vegan feta cheese to the bowl.
  4. Whisk together the ingredients for the herb dressing in a separate small bowl. The dressing typically includes lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, parsley, and fresh oregano. Adjust the quantities to suit your taste preferences.
  5. Pour the herb dressing over the salad ingredients and gently toss to combine.
  6. Let the salad sit for a few minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
  7. Serve your Vegan Greek Salad as a refreshing side dish or as a light meal on its own.

In conclusion, Greek cuisine offers a wealth of vegan recipes that are both delicious and satisfying. Whether following a Greek-Mediterranean diet or simply looking to incorporate more plant-based meals into your summer menu, these five Cretan vegan recipes are sure to please.

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