Gavin Kaysen's Greek salad has most of the usual ingredients, like tomatoes and olives—but, in an inspired twist, he turns the traditional feta cheese into a creamy, light feta mousse. Kaysen invented the dish to impress his coach when he was training for the prestigious international Bocuse d'Or cooking competition, and he says, "It blew him away."
This is Greek salad perfection: Michael Psilakis tops warm bread with garlicky red-pepper tzatziki (cucumber-yogurt spread) and a piquant combo of cucumbers, olives, peperoncini, tomatoes, radishes, greens and feta. It's stellar with homemade ladopsomo bread and yogurt, but equally good with store-bought.
Greeks make souvlaki by marinating chunks of meat (usually pork or lamb) in oil, lemon juice and oregano, then skewering and grilling them. Grace Parisi opts for pork shoulder because it's so tender and succulent.
This is Michael Psilakis's modern take on the traditional Greek combination of watermelon and feta cheese. It features the creamy yogurt he grew up eating in New York's Long Island: "My mom made it at home all the time, and we'd snack on it with honey after school."
Michael Psilakis dresses these luscious lamb chops with ladolemono, a supersimple Greek sauce of lemon juice and olive oil. The sauce is often spooned over fish, but it's delicious on meat and vegetables, too. "This is real Greek cooking," he says.
Michael Psilakis likes to riff on saganaki—fried cheese with lemon. He uses manouri, a fresh, milky white cheese made from the whey that's drained off during feta production. Like nearly all Greek cheeses, it's produced from either sheep's or goat's milk.
David Page and Barbara Shinn of Shinn Estate Vineyards on the North Fork of Long Island trim tender young grape leaves and brine them at home. Page often stuffs the brined leaves with sausage made from locally raised duck, calling the hors d'oeuvres "a NoFo classic." Here, he creates a version with ground pork and fregola, a small, round Sardinian couscous.
For this clever riff on Greek salad, traditional ingredients like feta cheese and black olives get chopped into small pieces, then tossed with a shallot dressing. "None of the strong flavors take over," says Dave Alhadeff, who often orders the dish at Dressler. "Because it's all nicely chopped, you get a hint of feta, a taste of tomatoes. It's so much more complex than most Greek salads."
For shrimp saganaki, Greeks sauté shrimp in a pan with tomatoes, olives and feta cheese, then serve it right out of the skillet with bread to soak up all the delicious juices. Grace Parisi stirs fresh dill into her quick version to brighten the flavor.
Skordalia is traditionally a thick, tangy puree of boiled or baked potatoes (or water-soaked bread) mixed with lots of garlic and olive oil. This skordalia is thinned with yogurt and water to make a dipping sauce for tender, anise-accented nuggets of salt cod.
For Michael Psilakis, macaronia ("pasta") has always meant chicken stewed with spaghetti, tomatoes, cinnamon, raisins and pine nuts. Those are the dominant ingredients here, except he's substituted chicken with cauliflower.