The number of herbs and spice-producing plants that grows naturally in Greece is impressive. Generations of Greek cooks have focused in on many that have become essentials of traditional Greek cooking.
Rigani (oregano) is used a lot in Greek cooking appearing in most meat dishes, baked vegetables, sauces and of course on Greek salads. This is the most widely used herb.
Among the other herbs which grow on the hillsides of the Greek mainland and the islands dendrolivano (rosemary) is used sparingly.
Thymari (thyme) is used in some meat dishes, in bakery as well as some of the best Greek honey.
Faskomilo (sage) can be smelled all over the mountains and is used in a tea.
Diosmos (mint) is used to flavor keftedes (meatballs) and in some pies and salads.
Vassilikos (basil) is very common in Greece. You can see this herb in every house in the Greek islands. It is used to flavor pasta, salads and jams.
Anitho (dill) is used in pitas (pies), salads and dolmadas.
Maidanos (parsley) is used as a garnish as well as in some meat and vegetable dishes.
Garifalo (cloves) are an important ingredient in stifado and is also used in breads and sweets.
Kumino (cumin) is used in soutzoukakia, the spicey meatballs served in tomato sauce.
Sousami (sesame seeds) are used on breads and in halva and with honey to make a sweet called pasteli. Tahini is made from sesame seeds. In Greece, tahini is used as a spread on bread either alone or topped with honey or jam. Compared to peanut butter, tahini has higher levels of fiber and calcium and lower levels of sugar and saturated fats
Kanela (cinnamon) is used in many sauces and deserts and is sprinkled on apples for a desert after a big meal.
- Common herbs and spices may help protect against certain chronic conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
- Using herbs and spices expands your palette without extra calories and may decrease the amount of salt, fat, and sugar you use without sacrificing flavor
The bottom line is that herbs won’t magically make disappear all the health problems — but it’s just one more reason they’re worth trying out and of course, they taste awesome.