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squares of pasteli
squares of pasteli - SBS Food/Instagram

You may want to add pasteli to the list of Greek dishes you need to try. These crunchy treats are the right combination of texture and taste that can satisfy a sweet tooth and offer an energetic pick-me-up any time of the day. In Greece, you'll find pasteli not only in coffee shops but served on holidays and special occasions like weddings and birthdays. Since sesame is believed to represent fertility and honey holds promise for a sweet life, it is common to see pasteli served at weddings.

This combination of honey, sesame seeds, and nuts has been enjoyed since Homer's time, offering bites of sustenance for warriors and treats for newlyweds. During the Trojan War, Greek soldiers snacked on pasteli. Sesame provides an assortment of vitamins, fiber, and calcium, and honey is loaded with antioxidants. Though Ancient Greeks made pasteli simply using only sesame seeds and honey, some varieties would include additional ingredients like spices, nuts, and other kinds of seeds. Modern chefs have added various additions like walnuts, almonds, and pistachios to the original recipe from which Spartans once garnered energy.

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holding honey and sesame bar
holding honey and sesame bar - Andreea Duția/Instagram

You'll find pasteli throughout the Greek islands. Traditional ways of making the treat persist on islands like Andros, where the honey sesame mixture is left on wood boards to solidify before being cut and placed on top of lemon leaves to serve. Kalamata is where the majority of pasteli sold in markets is made. Here, the pasteli is crisper and harder than recipes made in other places. On Rhodes, pasteli is called melekouni (the Greek word for honey is meli), and pieces are flavored with orange zest.

You don't need to walk down any aisle though, or enter battle to munch on pasteli. In its basic, most simplistic form, pasteli is a simple mix of sesame seeds and honey, yet as previously mentioned the classic recipe has taken on new forms with the inclusion of ingredients that build a range of flavors and textures for snackers to feast on.

If you're making these for yourself, add dried fruits like blueberries or cranberries or include candied ginger, orange and lemon zest, spices like ginger and cinnamon, and your favorite flavored extracts. You can choose the density of the recipe you would like to sample and adjust the ratio of ingredients accordingly. Start by experimenting with a one-to-one mixture of honey and add-ins like seeds or nuts, and keep in mind that pasteli can be made to be crunchy and brittle or soft and gummy, so you can't go wrong with your efforts.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.