Fresh and wild

by Jennifer Gay

GATHERED wild from roadsides and in fields across Greece, horta (usually translated as "wild greens") comprise an enormous array of species, ranging from common radikia (dandelion leaves) to almyra (an Attica coastal special). Delicious simply boiled lightly and served with plenty of lemon juice (see first recipe), various types of horta could also be substituted into the other recipes that use the more internationally known, cultivated spinach. (Recipes yield four servings.)

Boiled greens


1 kilo wild greens (one type, like dandelions, or mixed)
1 tbs cold-pressed olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp salt


1. Clean greens: trim roots and pick out yellowed leaves. Rinse well under cold running water, shake, and drain in colander.

2. In a large pot, bring water to boil. When it reaches a rolling boil, add greens a handful at a time. Cook for about 10 minutes, then strain. Reserve some cooking water.

3. Place greens in a large salad bowl. Toss with olive oil, lemon juice, two tablespoons of cooking water, and season with salt.

4. Garnish with lemon quarters and serve.

You can buy salad greens at a farmers' market or even pick them yourself in the countryside in late winter or early spring.
To uproot, loosen soil with a sharp knife and lift out. Collect in a bag.

Spinach roll


5 sheets frozen filo
1 kilo fresh spinach
5 spring onions
200gr soft feta cheese
50gr soft Domokos cheese or cream cheese
100gr pine nuts
1 tbs olive oil
150gr cream
3 rounded tbs grated kefalotiri cheese
1 egg


1. Remove filo from freezer and let thaw.

2. Wash and clean spinach and spring onions. Chop together and without draining place in pot. Cook in their liquids for about five minutes until just tender.

3. Stir in feta and cream cheese.

4. Brush each sheet of filo with olive oil, then place in layers on a piece of cooking paper about the size of a baking tray.

5. Spread spinach and cheese filling over filo.

6. Toast pine nuts in a dry frying pan and sprinkle over spinach filling.

7. Roll filo and filling, tucking ends under the roll. Use cooking paper to lift roll and place on a baking tray.

8. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

9. Beat together egg, cream, and kefalotiri cheese. Pour mixture over spinach and filo roll. Bake in middle of oven at 180 degrees Celsius for about 40 minutes.

Spinach with feta


750gr fresh spinach
1 tbs sesame seeds
2 tbs cold-pressed olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, finely chopped
3 tbs tamari sauce
2 tbs lemon juice
freshly-ground pepper
150gr soft feta cheese
4 radishes
6 button mushrooms


1. Clean spinach, wash under running water, and let drain.

2. Toast sesame seeds in non-stick frying pan.

3. Clean radishes and mushrooms, then slice thinly.

4. In a little oil, saute garlic. Add tamari sauce, spinach, and mushrooms. Cover and cook for approximately five minutes until tender.

5. Remove cover so steam can escape. When most of the liquid has evaporated, add lemon juice and season with pepper. Crumble feta over spinach. Transfer to plates and garnish with radishes and toasted sesame seeds.

This dish can be served with potatoes.

(Recipes compiled by Cordelia Madden)

This week at your local laiki

THE ORIGIN of purslane (Portulaca olearacea, glystrida in Greek) is uncertain, but it is found growing in the wild/cultivation throughout much of the world. It was known to the ancient Greeks - there are more than a dozen references to it in the works of Dioscorides, Galen and Pliny. Pliny mentions it as a "charm against all evil". Agapios Monachos the Cretan (15th century AD) wrote: "It is cold and astringent. The cultivated purslane is better than the wild; it stops stomach burning and soothes the intestines..." Purlsane was also known in the New World before the arrival of Columbus.

Apparently one of the richest sources of the all-important omega 3 essential fatty acids, purslane makes a pleasant alternative to cod liver oil, traditionally the source of a concentrated dose of omega 3s. High in vitamin E, a modest portion of purslane provides six times the amount found in the equivalent portion of spinach. It also provides you with decent doses of A and C as well as linoleic acid, a cardiotonic.

Purslane leaves don't go limp like July lettuces and offer a mild lemony tang and crunch to a mixed salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, rocket and onions. Myrsini Lambraki, in Herbs, Greens and Fruit, says purslane cannot be digested easily when consumed with foods of high acidity, and combines particularly well with basil, garlic, cress and piquant greens. Used fresh, it also goes well with lightly steamed beans or carrots. Cooked purslane is a little mucilaginous, however, as it approaches flowering stage, the stems become very like okra and these go well with lentil/lamb soup. Or try stir-frying with other vegetables and chicken.

Wines of the week

STEPHANOS Georgas, manager of Cellier wine shops, selects wines to please more demanding oenophiles. "In this category belong some of the choicest Greek wines," he says. "We have chosen to present the following five, keeping in mind their excellent relationship between quality and price.

Chardonnay Antonopoulou (Chardonnay), Antonopoulos

Alpha Estate white (Sauvignon Blanc), Alpha Estate

Katsaros Estate red (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot), Katsaros Estate

Cava Mercouri Estate (Refosco, Mavrodaphne), Mercouri Estate

Metohi (Cabernet Sauvignon, Limnio), Evangelos Tsantalis

Buy this book at 30% off!

This week's recipes are taken from Lose Weight on the Mediterranean Diet, by Elisabeth Havlicek-Kastanaki and published by Ellinika Grammata. You can now purchase this book for 11.20 euros, down from its usual price of 16 euros. This 30 percent discount is offered exclusively through the Athens News. You can pick up your reduced price copy in person from Ellinika Grammata bookshop (9 Christou Lada St, Athens). Or email your order to, or fax it to 210-333-3971. Include your name and address, the name of the book and the fact that you are taking advantage of this special offer. Do not include payment or a credit card number. A courier will deliver the book and collect payment in cash. There is a 4.50 euro delivery charge. For more information call Vassilis Tsonoglou at 210-333-3970.

(Posting Date 7 September 2006 )

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