Gluten Free Greek at El Greco


If you’ve read any of my other blog posts then you will most likely come to realise that I love Greece and Greek food. I have spent many happy holidays over my lifetime visiting the beautiful islands and sampling all of the local dishes, including rabbit stews and goat which are popular specialities on the island of Rhodes. However, I have never visited a Greek restaurant in England before, mainly due to the fact that I never really feel like the quality of food is going to live up to that in places like Rhodes.

I recently took a trip to a little Greek restaurant in Stratford-upon-Avon named El Greco after receiving some glowing reviews from people I know. My cousin even told me that they served the best Calamari that she had ever tasted outside of Greece and so it was only apt that I went and taste tested the food for myself.

Within the first few minutes I was already quizzing the waitress on what was gluten. wheat and milk free. I was a little hesitant as she didn’t seem to be completely sure and I had that worrying feeling that this was going to be a night of playing Russian Roulette with my food, but thankfully she went off and came back with a gluten free menu to set my mind at rest. There is a big choice of starters, appetisers, mains and desserts on the menu, but I chose the Mezze so that I’d be able to try a selection of dishes all at once.

I opted for the Dolmades, which is the stuffed vine leaves, Chicken Souvlaki, the slow cooked beef stew Stifado, as well as the Greek sausage Loukanika, which I was surprised to learn was gluten free as I often steer clear of it when in Greece just in case it contains rusk. I couldn’t have the Calamari due to the breadcrumbs, but I was pleased that there were so many other dishes on offer to tickle my fancy.

I had greedily thought that if these dishes didn’t fill me up then I would order more later, but the chefs don’t skimp on size and I was full to the brim after dipping in and out of all the dishes. If you know Greek food well then you will know that it is simple, no fuss food that does the job and El Greco was no exception.

The sausage for me was a little spicy tasting –  I have always found that foreign meat doesn’t quite live up to its British equivalents anyway so this wasn’t exactly a surprise, but that said it was nice to be able to have it on my plate. The Dolmades and Chicken Souvlaki were lovely, but the one dish that really stood out for me was the Beef Stifado as I believe that slow cooking meat and its juices really makes a dish taste a whole lot better than one that hasn’t had time to stew for long.

Overall, the food was typically Greek. If you’re looking for fancy food then you won’t get it here, but it is wholesome, hearty food that fills you up and is reasonably priced considering how many dishes you get to sample. If you’re ever looking to relive your memories of a Greek holiday by means of food or simply want to try something different for an evening out, El Greco is the place to go.



Eggplant little shoes (stuffed aubergines)


One of my favourite traditional Greek dishes to order in a taverna is ‘Melitzanes papoutsakia,’ otherwise known as eggplant little shoes. Like the majority of Greek dishes, this stuffed aubergine concoction combines simple ingredients that have been slow cooked and seasoned to bring out an array of beautiful flavours that taste fresh and fulfilling.

If you know the Greek way of life well then you probably know that food cooked in your typical taverna does not come out in half, or maybe even an hour’s time. As my Rhodian friends like to say, the way they do things on the Greek islands is ‘slowly slowly.’

Of course, here in fast paced Britain we are a bit more ‘quickly quickly’ and so I’ve adapted a few of the ingredients so that you can have your eggplant little shoes up and running in just over half an hour instead of two.

This dish is great for using up ingredients you already have in your fridge and although the aubergines are typically stuffed with lamb mince, other meat mince such as beef or turkey can be used for a more healthy option.

Serves 2


  • 2 aubergines halved
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g lamb or beef mince
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • Red pepper
  • Half red chilli
  • Courgette chopped into small pieces

For the tomato sauce

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 tsp each ground cinnamon, coriander and cumin
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sugar


  1. Heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Make the tomato sauce in a saucepan by heating the oil and frying the garlic for 2-3 minutes until soft.
  2. Add the spices and chilli and fry for 1 minute, stirring well.
  3. Pour in the tomatoes and sugar and allow to simmer for 20 minutes until thickened.
  4. Scoop out most of the flesh from the aubergines and lay them in a roasting tray. Drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of oregano and oven bake for 15 minutes until soft and going slightly golden. After 5 minutes of baking, add the pepper and courgette to the roasting tray
  5. For the stuffing, mix the mince with 2 tsp of oregano in another saucepan, season with salt and pepper and cook until golden brown.
  6. When the aubergines are ready, spoon the mince and tomato mixture inside. Sprinkle with more oregano and salt and pepper if needed and bake in the oven for another 5-10 minutes.
  7. Serve on its own or accompanied by spiced rice or a tzatziki side sauce. Yammas!

Greek inspired lamb breast in a red wine sauce with rosemary and garlic potatoes


Without question, the Greeks know how to cook a good lamb dish. For my cousins wedding on the island of Rhodes in 2013, my good friend Nikos’ mamma cooked us up what must have been the best part of a whole lamb to celebrate the occasion. It had been slow cooked (even by Greek estimations it was slooow) for three whole days before being carefully transported to Flyers beach bar for all the guests to devour. Wow, the meat simply slid off the bone and without a doubt, I think I would rate it as the best food I have ever tasted in my whole entire life – and for a food lover such as myself that is quite a statement.

The thing that was so amazing about mamma’s dish, is that there were so few ingredients incorporated. Of course, I cannot tell you the recipe as I know full well that they don’t go outside of the family and I would have to be killed if I ever got hold of it. However, I do know that slow cooking makes even the cheapest cuts of meat taste divine, and that I would put my bets on the fact that mamma may have sneaked a little dribble of the old red wine in the casserole dish – which it has to mentioned was also cooked in the stone oven in the oldest house in the whole of Lindos.

This dish was made in my, shall we say, fairly newer electric oven, and slow cooked for nearly three and a half hours on a very low heat to soak up all of the juices and flavours of the Mediterranean. I served the meat alongside roasted garlic and rosemary potatoes, drizzled in the delicious Greek olive oil that I only ever get out for special dishes, as well as minted rice as I found this to be a very popular side dish in many tavernas.

Best part of all is, the olive oil and oregano had travelled all the way from Siana in the Rhodian mountains where Nikos’ Uncle George lives. George of course speaks not a word of English, but can remember my name as being Sophia and is generally in hysterics at everything going on as we try to communicate. If you ever visit Siana, George will no doubt be sat outside the little café playing backgammon and sipping on the lethal souma – whatever you do don’t tackle the mountainous roads back home after being persuaded to down a few with the Greeks. Yammas!


  • Lamb breast
  • 1 red pepper
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic granules
  • 1 gluten free chicken stock cube
  • 300 ml red wine
  • Salt and pepper
  • New potatoes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Rosemary
  • Fresh mint chopped
  • Rice (optional) sprinkled with mint and drizzled with olive oil from potato tray.
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
  2. Heat some sunflower oil in a large frying pan and brown the lamb joint. Transfer to a casserole dish.
  3. Chop the red pepper and onion into chunks and transfer to a mixing bowl. Sprinkle over the dried oregano, garlic granules and the crumbled stock cube.
  4. Pour over the red wine, chopped tomatoes and season with salt and pepper before pouring over the lamb breast
  5. Cut the lemons in half and add them to the lamb and cook in the oven for around 3 and half hours until tender.
  6. Cut the new potatoes in half and bring to the boil for a couple of minutes.
  7. Drain the water and add the grated garlic clove, sprinkle with rosemary and drizzle with olive oil before giving them a good shake.
  8. Transfer the potatoes to the oven to cook for around half an hour until golden and crispy.
  9. If making rice, add some chopped, fresh mint at the end and drizzle the olive oil from the potato tray over the top to produce a succulent and refreshing side dish.

Greek Mezze


It is no secret that I absolutely adore Greece. I love the country, the people, the culture and most of all, the food. Having spent countless summers on the beautiful island of Rhodes making friends for life and mixing with the locals, I can’t deny that if I had to change nationalities, I would choose to be Greek.

The thing that I really admire about the Greeks is their passion for cooking as a way of bringing people together. If you ever visit the country, you will never be far from a family gathered around a table sharing a mezze, a variety of national or local dishes similar to Spanish tapas. Believe me, if you ever have the pleasure of joining a family for a mezze you will be overwhelmed by the variety of flavours and colours presented to you. Never be afraid to try out the local dishes, I was pleasantly surprised by what I have tasted on my travels that I would never have dreamed of eating before back in England – squid and mussels being some of them.

This week, my brother and his girlfriend had us all round for a Greek afternoon and I was told I needn’t worry about bringing my own food, as it would all be gluten, wheat and cow’s milk free. We had a beautiful selection of dishes to choose from, including chicken skewers, lamb and mint mini burgers, Greek salad with feta cheese, olives, bell stuffed peppers, rosemary and garlic roast potatoes, gluten free pitta bread with a red pepper hummus dip and homemade tzatziki, as well as beef stifado which had been slow cooked.

My brother Nick cooking up a Greek feast

One of my favourite Greek dishes is Moussaka and I have to admit that it is the one thing I really miss being able to have when I am over in Greece, as unfortunately it does contain flour and milk which is off limits to me. However, with a few alterations, this national dish can be made at home with minimal effort, and quite frankly it is delicious even if I may say so myself.


Here is a recipe I found in Greece in a cookbook and although there are many recipes out there which have been incorporated into fancier looking and more difficult dishes to make, when it comes to proper Greek cooking, simplicity is key.


Serves 4

  • 2 kilos of large aubergines
  • 1 kilo of mince
  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • 2 large onions
  • 5 ripe tomatoes skinned and finely chopped
  • ½ cup of dry white whine
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of oregano
  • Grated kefalotiri sheep/goats cheese (parmesan or dairy free cheese can be used instead)
  • 2-3 portions of white sauce or if dairy free, I use Free & Easy dairy free cheese sauce and follow the pack instructions

1)    Peel, wash and cut the aubergines into large thin slices and leave them to drain in salt.

2)    Brown the mince in the oil with the onion.

3)    Pour in the wine, tomatoes and season with salt, pepper and oregano

4)    Allow to boil until the moisture has been absorbed.

5)    Fry the aubergines and spread them in a large roasting tin and sprinkle with grated cheese.

6)    After the first layer, spread the mince on top and then add another layer of aubergines, then sprinkle again with the grated cheese.

7)    Pour on the white or dairy free sauce so that the surface of the moussaka is covered with a thick layer of sauce and finish with the cheese.

8)    Cook in the oven for around 30 – 40 minutes until cooked through and crisp.

Variations – Thin sliced potatoes can be incorporated into the dish and fried before adding to the layers for a more filling and thicker moussaka, or alternatively, the aubergines can be swapped with courgettes.

A shot of Souma and you’ll be smashing the plates….Yammas!!