The specialities of the Ionian islands are evidence of their rich history and Venetian influences. Corfu, Lefkada, Zakynthos, Kefalonia, Kethyra, all have their traditional dishes.
Fresh fish is a big part of the Ionian cuisine, but, there are plenty of other recipes based on lamb, beef, local vegetables and pasta. After all, Ionian cuisine is one of variation and diversity! Be aware though, to keep up with the hot summer days in Greece you should have small meals during the day and save your appetite for dinner time!
No matter where you are the recipe for great food is the same: Hop in your car and drive away from the noisy tourist traps. Explore the picturesque villages, and find the restaurants where the locals dine. They usually know best. When you find the restaurant of your choice, ask the waiter for recommendations and the day’s specials. Also, make sure you accompany your meal with a glass of local Ionian wine!
Our last advice to you: Have dinner the Greek way! Choose a variety of different dishes to share with your friends. This way everybody gets to have a taste of several local dishes!
Are you ready for our culinary journey? Here are our top 12 recommendations of traditional Ionian dishes:
Tsigaridia: This simple but impressively tasty Ionian dish is perfect for vegetarians and vegans. This Kefalonian recipe will make you rediscover the greens: Local wild greens sauté in olive oil with tomato and rice. You have to try it to believe us!
Sofrito: This dish is a must only for the meat lovers. Thin slices of veal stewed in a white wine and vinegar sauce, with plenty of garlic and parsley for rich flavour. Sofrito is a speciality of Corfu island, and it is so yummy!
Bourdetto: One of the most famous fish dishes of Corfu island, Bourdetto is made with red scorpionfish, cooked in a red, spicy tomato sauce. A delicacy you shouldn’t miss out, especially during summer!
Pastitsada: Served during family celebrations and holidays in Corfu, pastitsada is a casserole dish made with beef, pork or rooster. The meat is slowly cooked in a sauce with fresh tomatoes, onion, cinnamon and paprika, and served with rigatoni pasta. As we say in Greece, you are going to lick your plate!
Pastitsio: The Ionian baked pasta dish that is popular all over Greece! It consists of 3 layers, pasta, meat and béchamel sauce. The thick pasta blends with the aromatic minced meat and the local hard cheese. The béchamel sauce on top gives a velvety sensation in every bite. In other words, this dish will make you forget your name!
Kreatopita: The famous meat pie of Kefalonia with local lamb, or sometimes lamb and veal. Several layers of filo pastry seal a delicious meat and vegetable filling. Several spices like bay leaf and nutmeg and the local red wine enrich the flavour of this gorgeous dish!
Full already? We know it is very hard to resist such delicious dishes, but try to leave some room for dessert too!
Ladopita: A traditional cake prepared for special occasions on the island of Lefkada. Made with semolina, olive oil, syrup, topped with sesame and cinnamon. A humble and healthy dessert full of flavour!
Melochondros: A Kytherian pudding made with honeyed water and cracked wheat. So simple and so delicious!
Bougatsa: Puff pastry stuffed with sweet custard cream, sprinkled with icing sugar and cinnamon. Start your day in Zakynthos with a freshly baked bougatsa! Bougatsa is also a common breakfast choice in Northern Greece with a variety of sweet and savoury fillings.
Pasteli: This delicacy originated in Greece and some places in the Middle East over 6,000 ago and it ́s the first-ever energy bar! Made with honey and sesame seeds pasteli is so tasty and healthy, mostly when freshly made. Another ingredient you will usually find in a pasteli is raw almonds, so be careful if you have any allergies. Usually, you will not find it served in restaurants but grocery shops and bakeries. It is the ideal snack to take with you at the beach or your hikes at the Ionian mountains.
Madolato: The Zakynthian nougat is a confection that consists of egg whites, honey and almond. It is going to melt in your mouth and your hearts!
Frigania. Last but not least, the pride of Zakynthos island, the famous frigania! This dessert consists of three layers, a base made with traditional Greek rusks soaked in a sugary syrup flavoured with lemon zest and spices, vanilla flavoured rich cream in the middle and on top whipped cream garnished with baked almonds. Divine!
If you are still missing something from our list, you can find more of the traditional Ionian dishes here.
The Ionian Islands are famous for their rich culture, the emerald waters, the sandy beaches and delicious food. Explore the gems of the Ionian Sea with a rental car with Simplybook and support the local economy!
Post featured photo by dimitrisvetsikas1969, licensed.