Recipes for Classical Horta & Horta with a Mediterranean Twist
By Cynthia Daddona
Dark Leafy Greens are an important part of the Mediterranean Diet. Research that began on the Greek Island of Crete in the 1940’s and later included the rest of the Mediterranean, determined that the Mediterranean Diet contributes to living a longer life. My grandfather who migrated from Italy to the US, ate bowls of steamed greens with olive oil and garlic and lived to be 97. My husband Jim’s Greek Yia, Yia (Greek for grandmother) who migrated from Greece to the US lived to be 101 and her sisters that are living are in their 90’s. When you ask them what contributes to living a longer life – they answer Horta! (Dark leafy Greens picked in the fields and eaten daily in Greece and cooked with olive oil and lemon.) This recipe was inspired by meeting the three Yia Yias and eating delicious horta in Greece. Listed first is a classic recipe for greens and the second is one I created with a Mediterranean twist by adding several spices and feta. Click here to see a video filmed in Santa Barbara and Crete that includes how to make my award-winning horta recipe!
Classical Greek Horta
2 lbs of Greens:
Suggestions of Greens to choose from:
Dandelion – (Here in the United States, I’ve found that the white or green stemmed dandelions and especially the younger/shorter ones are less bitter than the red stems).
Feel free to combine different greens as well.
(Whenever possible buy organic greens to avoid ingesting the pesticides – if not available soak and rinse greens several times)
1 1/2 cups of water
Extra Virgin Olive oil
Salt to taste
(optional – 1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder)
P r e p a r a t i o n :
Cut the Greens into bite size pieces. Wash several times in bowl with water to remove any soil. If using kale with thick stems tear the leaves off the stems and discard stems.
In a large pot, add water, bring to a boil and add greens. Cover. Boil until stems and leaves are soft depending upon which greens you use. Check after 10 minutes by tasting to see if greens are tender and continue up to 20 minutes. Add more water if needed. Strain water from greens and return to pot. Add juice of two lemons, one turn of olive oil, salt and mix. Let sit for a few minutes in warm pot with flame turned off. Serve on plate or in bowl.
This makes 5 to 6 servings. Make extra since it tastes delicious the next day.
Dandelion Leaves Tip: If you want to make dandelion greens only (a bitter green) – use younger leaves if possible. Whatever length you use, I have found that by cooking dandelion greens in a steamer you reduce bitterness and follow directions to season with lemon, olive oil and salt above while still hot. Dandelion also taste milder when combined with another milder green such as Swiss Chard.
Mediterranean Goddess Greens
(Horta with a Mediterranean Twist)
Eat your cooked greens as much as possible each week and you’ll feel like a healthier goddess. This is also a wonderful recipe to get your loved ones to also eat their greens. The extra ingredients of spices and feta caused my father-in-law who doesn’t like to eat greens to ask for seconds. One mother of two who tried the recipe told me that her children loved making and eating the greens with feta.
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon of turmeric
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground fennel
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
1 1/2 cups of water
1/4 teaspoon of salt or salt to taste
2 tablespoons of Olive oil
Use these greens of your choice:
3 bunches of Swiss Chard (regular or red or yellow colored stems)
(2 bunches of Swiss chard and 1 bunch of kale – flat leafed versus curly)
or Spinach (2 pounds)
I find that the Swiss chard alone or Swiss Chard with Flat Leaf kale works well for this recipe. If not available use Spinach.
(Whenever possible buy organic greens to avoid ingesting the pesticides – if not available soak and then rinse greens several times)
1 lemon – juiced
A delicious option: 1/2 cup of Feta cheese crumbled on top of cooked greens while still hot and before serving (use sheep’s milk or sheep-goat mixture for true Greek taste)
Cut the Greens into bite size pieces. Wash several times in bowl with water to remove any soil. If using kale with thick stems tear the leaves off the stems and discard stems. For Swiss chard add stems to pot.
In a large pot add all the spices including garlic powder except for the salt. Stir together and cook and cover over Medium heat for 30 seconds to release the aromas.
Add water, salt and Greens, then olive oil and stir together. Cook on Medium heat until stems and leaves are soft depending upon which greens you use. Check after 10 minutes and stir again. Taste to see if greens are tender and continue cooking up to 20 to 30 minutes. Add more water if needed. Strain water from greens and return to warm pot with burner off. Squeeze lemon juice on greens. Add crumble Feta cheese and toss lightly. This can also be made without the feta for those who prefer dairy-free. Place in serving plate. Taste delicious warm.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
For more recipes, videos, and tips for celebrating Life, Love Food and Travel with a Mediterranean twist, visit www.RomancingTheTable.com.
Additional Bio info:
Cynthia is an award-winning on-camera personality, lifestyle journalist, Author and Mediterranean home cook. Her Romancing the Table®.com blog/website celebrates life, love, food and travel with a Mediterranean twist. She is also the co-producer and host of #1 NY Times About.com culinary travel DVD – A Greek Islands Destination Cooking Class that was filmed in Santorini Greece. Cynthia is an American Greek-Italian who enjoys celebrating her heritage and living in Santa Barbara with her American-Greek husband James, a documentary filmmaker. She is also the author of Diary of A Modern Day Goddess®, – a lighthearted guide to creating a life that nurtures your body, mind and soul. For recipes, podcasts, videos, tips and DVD go to www.RomancingtheTable.com and www.CelebrateGreece.com.
If sharing this recipe please credit recipe to its creator – Cynthia Daddona www.RomancingTheTable.com Thank you!
© C.Daddona 2011