Summer Recipes To Make You Feel Like You’re On Holiday

Sadhbh O'Sullivan

In a year when any form of travel was made suddenly and indefinitely off-limits, the meals we make have taken on a whole new significance. We may not be able to physically travel, but our palate sure can be transported. So far under lockdown we've taken our tastebuds to Scandinavia and Japan, and even to our virtual back gardens as we learned to BBQ indoors.

While we may still not have access to the sun and sand of our planned holidays, we can bring some summer to our kitchens with the glorious Cretan recipes in Marianna Leivaditaki's new book Aegean: Recipes from the Mountains to the Sea.

All the recipes are made for sharing, making them reminiscent of the perfect picky meal at the end of a day in the sands. Without actually flying there, this is the closest you can safely get to travelling – and it's worth the culinary trip.

Courgette and Feta Fritters

Serves 4–6 as a sharing plate
4 large courgettes
1 large red onion, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 handful of fresh dill, chopped
100g (31/2oz) feta, crumbled
100g (31/2oz) strong hard cheese, such as Manchego, Pecorino or Parmesan, coarsely grated
4 tbsp plain flour (possibly a bit more), plus extra for dusting
2 organic eggs
1 tsp dried oregano
200ml (7fl oz) vegetable oil, for frying
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Grate the courgettes using the coarse side of a box grater, then salt them and let them drain for 10 minutes.

2. Fry the red onion gently in the olive oil until translucent.

3. Squeeze the courgettes to get rid of excess water and place in a bowl with the onion. Add the mint and dill, feta and hard cheese. Add the flour and eggs and mix everything together.

4. Season with oregano, salt and pepper. The mix will be quite loose but manageable enough to create the fritters. Check for seasoning.

5. Heat the oil until hot but not smoking. Check by dropping in a bit of the mixture – it should bubble instantly. Take a large tablespoon of the mix, roll in the flour and fry in the hot oil until golden. Repeat until all the mix is used up.
  Photographed by Elena Heatherwick.

Grilled Squid with Graviera, Rocket and Lemon Zest

Serves 4–6 as a sharing plate
4 medium squid (about 600g/1lb
5oz), cleaned, tubes flattened and scored
100g (31/2oz) Cretan Graviera (or other hard sheep’s milk cheese such as Gruyère or Manchego), grated
Zest and juice of 2 unwaxed lemons
1 small bunch of rocket (about 100g/3½oz)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Make sure you season the squid with salt and pepper before cooking. I like to use a charcoal grill to cook the squid as it gives the squid a great flavour. If you are going to use a grill, make sure it’s nice and hot, and the charcoal is glowing red.

If you don’t have a grill, you can pan fry the squid in a very hot pan with a touch of olive oil until it curls up. It shouldn’t take more than a minute or two depending on its size.
2. Using a food processor, blitz the cheese, lemon juice and rocket briefly. Add the lemon zest, season with salt and pepper, pour over the hot squid and eat immediately. Photographed by Elena Heatherwick.

Lamb Kofte with Parsely Salad

Serves 4–6 as a sharing plate

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
150g (51/2oz) lambs’ hearts, chopped extremely finely and seasoned with salt (I add a few lamb’s hearts in there to intensify the flavour, but omit them if you prefer.)
450g (1lb) lamb, minced
100g (31/2oz) coarse bulgur wheat
1 tbsp walnuts, very finely chopped
150g (51/2oz) tomatoes, finely chopped
2 long green Turkish chillies, or other chillies you like, chopped finely
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
11/2 tsp ground fenugreek
1 handful each of parsley, mint leaves and dill, all finely chopped
300ml (1/2 pint) vegetable oil, for frying

For the parsley salad
1 bunch of parsley, chopped
100g (31/2oz) tomatoes, chopped
1 small green pepper, deseeded and chopped
1 green chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


1. Heat a pan over a medium heat, add the oil and lambs’ hearts and fry briefly for a couple of minutes. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool a little.

2. Tip the bulgur wheat into a bowl, cover with boiling water and let it sit for a few minutes until it softens a little.

3. Put all the ingredients, except the oil, in a large bowl and mix very well. Season with salt and form into round balls about the size of a walnut.

4. Heat the vegetable oil in a deep saucepan until hot (the oil should bubble as soon as you lower the kofte into it). Fry the lamb kofte in the oil until golden and crispy.

Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.

5. You need to chop the parsley salad ingredients as finely as possible. Put the parsley, tomatoes, pepper and chilli on a cutting board. Go over them again and again with a big knife until you have something that looks a bit like a salsa. It’s a bit messy but it’s totally worth it. Transfer to a bowl and season with the oil, lemon and salt and pepper.

Serve with the kofte and some nice bread.
  Photographed by Elena Heatherwick.

Oven-Baked Potatoes with Capers and Anchovies

Serves 4–6 as a sharing plate

4 medium waxy potatoes
2 green peppers, deseeded and sliced
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
200g (7oz) red tomatoes
2 tbsp capers
8 anchovy fillets
200ml (7fl oz) white wine
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp freshly black ground pepper
Sea salt, to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Slice the potatoes on a mandolin very thinly and place in a colander with a touch of salt for 15 minutes.

2. Fry the peppers in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for a few minutes until soft.

3. Blitz the tomatoes, peppers, capers and anchovy fillets to a paste. Transfer the drained potatoes to an oven dish and add the wine, remaining oil, oregano, black pepper and anchovy paste to the dish.

4. Mix everything really well with your hands and check the seasoning. Flatten the potatoes and cover with baking parchment. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes and then check whether the potatoes are nice and soft. When this is the case, remove the parchment and put back into the oven until a nice golden crust has formed on the top layer.Photographed by Elena Heatherwick.

Aegean: Recipes from the Mountains to the Sea by Marianna Leivaditaki. Published by Kyle Books. Photography: Elena Heatherwick 

Octopus Books Aegean: Recipes from the Mountains to the Sea, $, available at Amazon

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

The Best Indoor BBQ Recipes To Bring Summer Inside

3 Delicious & Healthy Japanese Recipes

Summery Gin Cocktails For Your Home Cocktail Hour