Greek-ish recipes that are perfect for any day of the week

These recipes are easy, bursting with flavour and sure to be cooked on repeat

Prudence Wade
Tuesday 30 April 2024 06:00 BST
Greek Cypriot cook Georgina Hayden grew up eating these types of recipes
Greek Cypriot cook Georgina Hayden grew up eating these types of recipes (Laura Edwards/PA)

“In terms of instant dinner gratification, you can’t get much better than this,” says food writer Georgina Hayden.

“It’s up there as one of the quickest meals in the book, worthy to make any weekly repertoire. It takes such little effort for such a lot of flavour – especially if you buy good ready-made houmous.”

Spiced lamb chops with houmous

This quick and easy meal looks – and tastes – incredibly impressive
This quick and easy meal looks – and tastes – incredibly impressive (Laura Edwards/PA)

Serves: 4


8 lamb chops

2 garlic cloves

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

Olive oil

2 lemons

2 shallots

2 green chillies

A few sprigs of mint

30g pistachios or almonds

200g houmous, shop-bought or homemade


1. Place the lamb chops in a mixing bowl or dish and crush in the garlic. Season well and add the ground cumin and coriander. Pour in enough olive oil to coat and squeeze in the juice of one lemon. Really massage the flavours into the chops, then cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for as long as you can, bringing it out 20 minutes before you want to cook. If you don’t have much time, just leave to one side on the kitchen counter for at least five minutes.

2. While the lamb is marinating, peel and finely slice the shallots. Place in a small bowl with the juice of the remaining lemon and a good pinch of salt. Halve, deseed and finely slice the chillies. Toss through the lemony shallots. Pick the mint leaves and roughly chop. Finely chop the pistachios, then set aside. Spoon the houmous out on a serving plate.

3. Place a griddle pan on a high heat and get it hot. Grill the lamb chops for about four minutes on each side, this will give you just-blushing lamb. You can cook them for less or more time depending on your taste. I like to finish by propping them up on the fatty side to get it crisp (this was always my mum’s favourite bit). You don’t want to crowd the pan, so you might need to do this in two batches; if so, rest the cooked chops in a very low oven while you cook the others. As soon as all the chops are ready, place them on top of the houmous. Toss the mint through the shallot mixture and scatter over the top with the pistachios.

Whole grilled halloumi with apricot

No one’s ever going be sad about a whole chunk of halloumi for dinner
No one’s ever going be sad about a whole chunk of halloumi for dinner (Laura Edwards/PA)

“I’m not very on top of things like social media. I’m hopeless at jumping on bandwagons, always late to the party, trend-wise,” admits Hayden.

“However, one thing I did share on social media several years ago now, was my method for scoring and grilling a whole block of halloumi with apricots – it took off. I’d never seen halloumi cooked this way before, and now it’s being recreated far and wide and I do feel a bit proud.

“While the flavour combination is a family standard, I attribute using the whole block to my dear friend Iain, who would eat an entire block of halloumi in one sitting, because ‘it looked like a chicken breast’. I thought, well, why can’t it be treated like a chicken breast or any other form of protein…? Score, season and grill! Iain, this one’s for you.”

Serves: 2-4


1 x 250g piece of halloumi

Olive oil

4 apricots

2 tbsp honey

A few sprigs of oregano or thyme


1. Preheat your grill to medium-high. Carefully score the top of your halloumi in a criss-cross pattern – don’t cut too deep, you want to keep it intact. Rub the cheese with olive oil, in between the cuts, too. Halve the apricots, remove the stones, and halve again into quarters. Place the halloumi in a snug dish (ideally metal) and nestle around the apricots, drizzling them with olive oil, too.

2. Pop under the grill, not too close, and grill for eight to 10 minutes, so that the fruit starts to caramelise and the halloumi is tender and charred on top. The success of this recipe depends on having the right distance from the grill and heat, so check a few minutes into cooking and see if you need to raise the temperature or lower the grill bars. It’s quite a forgiving technique, so take your time and see what works with your grill. When the halloumi is ready, drizzle with honey and scatter over the thyme or oregano. Serve immediately.

Sokolatopita: chocolate party cake

Take your birthday cake to the next level by baking this Greek version
Take your birthday cake to the next level by baking this Greek version (Laura Edwards/PA)

“This chocolate traybake looks like any other right? Not right. It’s Greek, which only means one thing: it’s drenched in syrup,” says Hayden.

“Before you roll your eyes at the Greek compulsion to drizzle cakes in syrup, let me tell you something: most simple chocolate sponges dry out so quickly. I’ve only ever met one cocoa sponge that I love and it is made with olive oil instead of butter, which keeps it moist. Otherwise, I think most chocolate sponges taste stale by the next day.

“This cake, however, is not only fantastically easy but stays beautifully moist for days – in fact, five whole days by my count. There is less sugar in the cake itself, so the sweetness is balanced out; honestly, you can’t really tell it has a syrup.

“It’s not sticky, but rather gives the sponge the most velvety texture. It’s the perfect cake for a party; kids and adults love the retro look, and even with the ganache icing it’s a breeze to make.”

Serves: 12


375g caster sugar

1 cinnamon stick

50ml brandy

125g unsalted butter, plus extra for the tray

250g dark and milk chocolate (I like half and half)

3 large eggs

175g plain flour

75g cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

½ tsp fine sea salt

200ml whole milk

250ml double cream

Sprinkles or fruit (optional)


1. Place 175 grams of the caster sugar in a small saucepan with the cinnamon stick, brandy and 150 millilitres of water. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, then simmer for 5 minutes until syrupy. Leave to cool.

2. Preheat your oven to 190C/170C fan/gas mark 5. Grease a deep 30cm x  20cm tray. Melt the butter in a small pan or microwave. Finely chop the chocolate, then set aside. Place the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on a medium speed with the remaining 200 grams of caster sugar. After a minute, increase the speed to high and whisk for four minutes, until pale and voluminous.

3. Meanwhile, in a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the plain flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and fine sea salt. When the eggs are ready, whisk in the milk and melted butter, then fold in the dry ingredients and 50 grams of the chopped chocolate. Pour the batter into the prepared tray and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until just cooked through. When a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean, it is done. Remove from the oven and poke holes all over the sponge and evenly drizzle over the cooled syrup. Leave the cake to cool in the tin.

4. To make the ganache, place the remaining 200 grams of chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the double cream until it is hot, but not boiling. Immediately pour the cream over the chocolate, leave for 30 seconds, then slowly stir until smooth. Leave to cool for 10 minutes then spread over the cake. Serve as it is or topped with sprinkles or fruit.

‘Greekish: Everyday Recipes With Greek Roots’ by Georgina Hayden (Bloomsbury, £26).

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