Greek cuisine is delicious and approachable, which may be one reason that Greek restaurants are so popular in the U.S. Souvlaki and gyros are standbys, and it is hard to go wrong with either of these dishes. But there are many other delicious Greek creations you are missing out on if you don't step outside the box and order something different now and then. Here are four other Greek dishes to try next time you dine out.
If you are feeling like something lighter or looking for an appetizer to try before the main course, definitely order the spanakopita. It is basically a spinach and cheese pie. Layers of feta cheese and spinach are placed between fluffy layers of filo dough. The top is flaky, and the middle has a tender, light texture. Usually, restaurants will serve you a large square of spanakopita. Sometimes it comes with multiple smaller squares on a platter meant for sharing.
Dolmas are essentially stuffed grape leaves. The filling is made from a seasoned mixture of vegetables, such as cabbage, pepper, onions, and zucchini. Some versions contain meat (traditionally lamb, although beef is used a lot in the United States). The grape leaves are tender and salty when cooked. Some restaurants will serve you dolmas with a yogurt-based dipping sauce, like tzatziki.
Gemista are stuffed vegetables. They are typically served as a main dish and are quite filling. You will get a variety of vegetables on the plate. Often, you'll see stuffed peppers, tomatoes, and mushrooms. The tops of the tomatoes and peppers are cut off, the veggies are partially hollowed out, and then a meat mixture is added before the veggies are baked. The fun thing about this dish is that since there's a variety of veggies, you get a variety of flavors, but all on one plate.
This hearty Greek soup is made mostly with white beans, which gives it a rich and creamy texture. The broth contains a lot of tomato, onion, and celery for a complex, yet approachable flavor. Paprika gives the soup a reddish tint, and slices of carrot typically add character. You will often see fasolada served as a starter, although a large bowl of it can certainly make a meal.
Step outside the box and give these dishes a try the next time you're in a Greek restaurant. Your taste buds are going to be delighted.