Calliope’s Greek Vegetarian Summer from Her Brooklyn Kitchen


A true citizen of the world, Calliope Charalambous is Greek— born in Cyprus, raised in Athens and London with a Cypriot dad and a mom born and raised in Cairo’s ethnic Greek community with roots from Smyrna. Then, to top it all off, she moved to New York where she lives— and cooks— with her French husband.

Calliope runs a popular food blog called Calliope’s Real Greek Food where she shares stories and recipes from her rich and diverse— but purely Greek— existence, all centered around food.

When she’s not cooking, she’s giving private and group cooking lessons and catering events at various parties and events around New York City— offering a home-cooked and traditional alternative to people who want a true taste of Greece.

Follow Calliope on Facebook here.

While there’s no alternative to eating a home cooked meal by the sea, overlooking the Aegean, we do realize that not everyone can make it to Greece this summer. So we asked Calliope to create a great menu of some tasty and easy to cook recipes that would allow our readers— whether in Brooklyn, or Los Angeles or anywhere in between— to have a taste of Greece.

Like Calliope herself, these recipes come from a rich and diverse heritage of various Greek regions and traditions. Enjoy and Kali Oreksi and be sure to check out and follow Calliope’s blog here.

Briami or Tourlou


1-2 medium eggplants
3 Italian zucchinis
2-3 russet potatoes
4 carrots sliced
4 large tomatoes
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup water
4 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp. chopped fresh peppermint
2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
salt & freshly ground black pepper

Preparation Method

1. Preheat the oven to 400F

2. Wash and cut the vegetables in bite sized chunks (cut potatoes and carrots one size smaller, they are harder and take longer to cook)

3. Put all the vegetables in a deep frying pan, coat them in olive oil and cook for about 10mins

4. Blend the garlic with the olive oil in a food processor

5. Put vegetables in a deep roasting pan and add the olive oil mixture

6. Season, add the herbs, mix and add the water

7. Bake for 30 minutes covered with foil and another 15-30minutes uncovered



This is my mom’s flagship dish. Vegetables’ stuffing can vary depending on the region. Anna’s gemista have the aromas of the Smyrna cuisine, which is more elaborate and sophisticated than the traditional Greek one. Serve Anna’s gemista at room temperature with feta cheese or Greek yoghurt; it tastes even better the day after!


5 large ripe beef tomatoes
5 mixed vegetables (bell peppers or Italian zucchini)
2 onions, chopped
10 tbsp. Arborio rice
½ bunch mint, chopped
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup raisins
½ cup pine nuts
salt & freshly ground pepper
pinch of sugar
3-4 potatoes & breadcrumbs (optional)


Preparation Method for the vegetables

1. Use a sharp knife to cut the cap off the top of vegetables

2. Scoop out the tomato pulp and keep it in a bowl

3. Scoop out seeds from peppers and throw them away. For the zucchini, use a sharp European vegetable peeler or a corer to remove filling and throw it away
Preparation Method for the stuffing

1. Preheat the oven to 360F

2. ut the tomato pulp in a blender; pour it in a large bowl where you will prepare your stuffing

3. Finely chop the onions and add them in the stuffing.

4. Add the rice; (as many tbsp. as the vegetables)

5. Add the salt & pepper, mint, raisins & pine nuts and ¾ of the olive oil

6. Mix well (optionally, cook the stuffing in a large saucepan for a few minutes; it reduces baking time as it softens the rice)
Stuffing the vegetables

1 Put a pinch of sugar on the bottom of each vegetable before you fill them with stuffing (my mom’s secret)

2. Use a teaspoon to fill the vegetables with the stuffing, leaving some space for the rice to expand

3. Cover with the vegetable caps

4. Salt & pepper, add the remaining olive oil and 1 cup of water

5. Optionally, add breadcrumbs on top of the vegetables and cut potatoes in your tray if you like

6. Bake for about 1.5 hours at 360F


Imam Bayildi

A summer classic! Originally, a Turkish recipe that was introduced to the Greek cuisine by the Greeks of Asia Minor. It translates “the imam fainted”! The tale goes like this: the imam swooned from delight when his wife served this dish to him. Others say that the imam’s wife used all the olive oil to prepare it and when he found out he fainted! Eggplants are like oil sponges, so I believe the latter version of the tale. Serve it at room temperature with Greek feta cheese or yogurt and bread. It tastes better the day after (with pasta 😉


2 medium onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled and ground
parsley, chopped
4 Sicilian (zebra or graffiti) eggplants
1 ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. sugar
salt & freshly ground black pepper

Preparation Method

1. Shave long, alternate strips of peel off the eggplants, top to bottom; leave the stem on

2. Make an incision, half way to into the flesh being careful not to cut through the skin

3. Soak them in a large bowl filled with water and 1tbsp. of salt for 30 minutes

4. In the meantime, prepare the sauce; heat 1 cup of olive oil and sauté the onions for 10 mins until translucent, but not brown; add the garlic for 3 mins and finally the tomatoes, season and add the sugar; let it simmer for about 20 minutes until you get a somewhat thick sauce

5. When the sauce is ready, start frying the eggplants in a different sauce pan using the remaining olive oil until they are soft and golden brown

6. Line the fried eggplants in a deep baking dish and stuff them with some of the sauce & onions

7. Finish by pouring on top the remaining sauce & some of the olive oil you have used to fry the eggplants; sprinkle with parsley

8. Bake for about 45 minutes at 380F

Skordomakarounes – Garlic and onion pasta with yogurt sauce from Kassos island

This is on the top of my list when it comes to comfort food! It is a rather unknown dish even in Greece, since its origin is the tiny island of Kassos. Few people know where that island is, but I do because it is my grandmother’s birthplace. The cuisine of Kassos is extraordinary, especially for the island’s size. The proximity to Crete and its emigrated population to Egypt and Istanbul have influenced the island’s cuisine. Traditionally, ‘skordomakarounes’ is hand made pasta that looks like penne, topped with ‘sitaka’, the cream of the sheep’s milk and finished with ‘syvrasi’, slow cooked onions until caramelized. Here is my mom’s version to the original recipe.


1 package of penne pasta or any handmade pasta like ‘striftaria’
2 large yellow onions, grated
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 total FAGE yogurt or other strained Greek yogurt
salt & pepper
a dash of sugar

Preparation Method

1. Use a large frying pan to heat most of the olive oil (save some, to finish the dish) and add the onions and garlic. Slow cook the onions for about 15 minutes until they are almost caramelized (my mom adds a dash of sugar in the pan)

2. In the meantime, boil the pasta al dente, according to package instructions

3. Strain them and mix with the yogurt while they are hot

4. Season and add the ‘syvrasi’ when ready. Enjoy immediately!

Ladenia – Flat olive bread from Kimolos

Napoli may be famous for the Italian pizza, but Kimolos and Milos islands are proud to present their traditional vegetarian and vegan Greek version of it, since the long Greek Orthodox Lent periods do not allow the consumption of dairy. ‘Ladenia’ means made of olive oil and all you need to make it, is very good quality extra virgin olive oil.

Ingredients for the dough

3 and 1/3 cups all purpose white flour
4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 package active dry yeast
½ tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 and ½ cup warm water (not hot!)

Ingredients for topping

3 firm and ripe tomatoes, seeded and sliced
3 white onions, sliced
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. oregano
salt & pepper
2 peppers (optional)
1 cup pitted kalamata olives (optional)

Preparation Method

1. Sift the flour in a large bowl, and sprinkle it with the yeast and the sugar

2. Add the olive oil and rub the mixture with your fingers

3. Gradually, add the water until you get a soft dough that does not stick on your hands

4. Coat a bowl with olive oil and let the dough rest there, covered for at least 45 minutes

5. In the meantime, prepare the ingredients for the topping

6. When the dough is ready (double its size, soft and elastic), place it on a baking sheet coated with olive oil; use your fingers tips to stretch the dough in the tray

7. Place the toppings, season and bake on the lowest level of the oven for 50 minutes, 400F


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