One of the real pleasures of having Greek neighbours is occasionally tasting their wonderful home cooking. Our neighbour Katerina is a champion baker of biscuits and maker of dolmades, but a while ago she taught Pam how to cook their traditional dish of mixed greens, called horta, and gave us a container of it to try.
Horta is just boiled mixed greens dressed with olive oil and lemon juice, and it's wonderful. As a result of Katerina's introduction, I bought some chicory seeds and have been waiting these last couple of months for it to get to the size when we can start harvesting leaves for making our own home-grown horta.
|Here's the Chicory 'Spadona' ready to harvest.|
I took only half the leaves from each plant, and
as well as the Spadona variety I have another
planted, with more serrated leaves.
|Quite a mouthful of a name, Cicoria Catalogna Puntarelle|
Brindisina. Both seed packets came from the online seed
retailer, The Italian Gardener, whose prices and generous
seed packets seem very good value to me.
The nice thing about cooking horta is that it's so easy and the amounts are flexible, and the ingredients are basically "whatever leafy greens you have at hand". Though the modern trend with cooking many vegies is to steam them, horta is an old-fashioned method where you boil the greens briefly, then dress them in olive oil and lemon juice, and that's about it. Here's how I did it last night.
|We harvested about 500g of leaves, mostly chicory but about|
a dozen perpetual spinach tossed in as well. Wash well, drain,
don't worry about cutting off stems unless damaged or brown,
then roughly chop the lot.
|Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil, then add the|
washed and chopped greens. Let them boil gently for 20 minutes.
|Drain the cooked greens in a colander.|
|Horta is rarely served piping hot. It gains flavour when just|
warm, and it chills in the fridge and reheats very well, too.
|Who says potato salad has to have mayonnaise? Mine included|
home-grown shallots (green onions) and finely chopped radish,
but alas the kipfler spuds weren't home-grown.
|And this being a Greek dish, we had lamb|
(cutlets), flavoured with garlic and home-grown
rosemary and lemon juice.