Life on Ikaria is still a paradigm for healthy living, sound of body and mind – and so much of this boils down to the recipes and dishes that people on the island eat. This Blue Zone island illustrates the core of the Mediterranean diet and of Greek cooking specifically: pure, simple foods have always been popular here. Most families have year-round gardens, providing a source of nourishment, pride, self-sufficiency, and a way to socialize and move around outside of the house – the benefits of having a garden go far beyond delicious produce!

Ikarian recipes are always seasonal. People even forage on Ikaria, looking for everything from nutritionally dense edible greens, weeds, and herbs to wild mushrooms. We also use herbs liberally, both in our cooking and as medicine, and Ikarians also regularly consume antioxidant-rich goat’s milk and cheeses, pure, raw pine, thyme, blossom, and heather honeys. We enjoy fresh fish, plenty of goat as a key animal protein, and lots of legumes and vegetables all year round.

So today, I’m rounding up my favorite Ikaria longevity recipes, starting with one of my favorite categories, soufico. I especially love it in the summer, and it could be considered one of the “national” dishes of this island. Soufiko it’s one of the many longevity recipes that are plant-based and delicious and that people still cook today. 

Scroll on to find all of these recipes!

Winter Soufico – Ikarian Pumpkin Stew with Dried Chiles

This delicious Greek recipe for pumpkin is another delicious Ikarian recipe, and it is one of many Greek dishes in which vegetables make for a satisfying, craveable delicious meal. The dried chiles give it a wonderful kick of heat, making it a delicious and spicy addition to your winter recipe rotation.

Soufico, One-Pot Vegetable Stew

This soufico recipe is my friend Eleni’s version. It is one of the simplest and most delicious I’ve ever tried, calling for a typical medley of summer vegetables, anchored by eggplant, the fleshiest and most filling of all of them. 

Summer Vegetable Stew from Ikaria

Here’s proof that stews are not just for winter! This version, from the south side of the island, is basically all the summer vegetables cooked together in a skillet with extra virgin Greek olive oil and herbs. All you need are great raw ingredients, excellent extra virgin Greek olive oil, a little sea salt, thyme and dried Greek oregano, and voila, you’ll make yourself a Mediterranean diet recipe that’s satisfying and healthy.

Ikarian Fisherman’s Soup with Trahana

Before rice became a common grain in Greece, wheat and all its manifestations, in the form of bulgur, trahana, the local pasta, matsi, and more were the staples by default. Today all over Greece, Greek recipes for fish soup almost universally call for rice. This old Ikarian recipe, from my Ikaria book, however, calls for a handful of trahana. It’s delicious!

Ikaria Longevity Zucchini Patties, with Greek Oregano & Mint

In the summer gardens of Ikaria, the island of longevity, zucchini prevails! This local Ikaria recipe for zucchini fritters is one of the most popular Greek summer recipes on the island, and for a good reason: it uses up a bounty of summer Ikarian zucchini, and it gets a kick of freshness from the oregano and mint. It truly tastes like a bite of summer (but one you can definitely enjoy year-round, no matter where you are!). Serve it with Greek yogurt or tzatziki.

Ikaria Lemony Pork Braised with Collards or Bok Choy

Lemony Pork Braised with Collard Greens

Lemony pork stewed with collards (lahanides in Greek) is probably the most popular winter recipe on Ikaria, a Sunday and holiday treat that calls for strong wine and company. There are at least three versions of this dish. The first is with fresh pork, preferably bone-in (for more flavor). But the more traditional versions, if you have a family pig and a fireplace over which to smoke it once you slaughter it, is for smoked pork. The leg is usually smoked, but I’ve also come across this recipe for smoked pancetta, which you can find in Italian markets. 

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