Horta, once more!

I know I probably repeat myself, but it is the time of year we feast on greens in our corner of the world. Together with the ones that grow wild in our garden, this year I add to the mix a few succulent grellos leaves (a kind of turnip greens) that I planted from seeds my friend Cali Doxiadis brought me from Spain. She said that unlike us, cooks in Spain don’t make horta salad, simply boiling the wild or cultivated greens and serve them drizzled with fruity olive oil and lemon; grellos are usually sautéed with pork or pork fat, she told me.


Here on Kea home cooks incorporate the winter greens into frugal main courses. They often flavor them withtsigagides or paspala—the local pork confit. Leftover small or larger pieces of the slaughtered pork are simmered with a little water, thyme or winter savory, and salt; when the water evaporates and they begin to sizzle, the scraps of pork are transferred to jars—clay pots in the old days—and preserved submerged in lard.

Read my original piece on Horta HERE



Also HERE see how we cook some unusual greens: Centaurea raphanica and the common golden thistle


Greens are also cooked with bakaliaro–salted cod, the fish of the poor. Seeing a neighbor painstakingly prepare and wash a basket full of greens to cook with bakaliaro, I was inspired to adapt Shrimp Saganaki, a recipe from Chalkidiki I haven’t cooked for years. I used to make it as a first course for my dinners in Athens, braising the shrimp with scallions and bunches of parsley; now I decided to substitute a fair amount of mixed greens for the parsley.

Briefly sautéed in olive oil and flavored with white wine and mustard, the greens and herbs take on sweetness from the shrimp. I simmer the shrimp heads and peelings separately to make some stock. Crumbled feta is the final addition, much like in the more common shrimp saganaki with tomato sauce, the dish that adorns the cover of my book. Maybe I shouldn’t call it saganaki, since this version is more like a greens’ soup with shrimp; but the method of brief cooking and the flavorings are the same. I serve the green, soupy saganaki in bowls, with my chewy whole-wheat bread. I got the idea from Semsa Deniszel, the brilliant Istanbul baker and chef, who often accompanies the dishes at her wonderful Restaurant  Kantin (which no longer exists) with toasted slices of her sourdough bread.


See the Recipe: Shrimp Saganaki with Greens, Scallions, Herbs, and Feta


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