Kafkalithres is a Greek winter herb and you can find them in the farmers’ market from January until late April. They are one of my favourite Greek herbs and I love them raw in salads or cooked in many recipes, especially in spanakopita, which adds an amazing taste.
I love this herb so much that when it is in abundance, I freeze it and I also make pesto with it (see recipe below), which I have in the deep freezer to use either of them, now that is is out of season.
Kafkalithres’ scientific name Tordylium Apulum or Mediterranean hartwort, is a genus of wild plants, used in Greece since antiquity, as pot herbs and culinary herbs. Theophrastos and Aristotle mention this herb, its ancient name kafkalis (καυκαλίς) and the latter states that it is eaten by female deer after giving birth.
I quote from “Food in the Ancient World from A to Z”, by Andrew Dalby, page 173.
“Hartwort (Tordylium spp.) genus of wild plants, used in Greece in drugs and medicinal wines and also as pot herbs and culinary herbs. Tordylium Apulum, small hartwort, is said to be still used for food in Greece. According to Aristotle, a deer will find and eat hartwort immediately after giving birth to young.
It is also found under the name seseli* Σέσελι Κρητικόν (Hippocrates RA 23, Epidemics etc., etc., Kaukalis (Theophrastus HP 7.7.1.-2; ).
Claudius Galenus, known as Galen (Γαληνός) a Greek physician, surgeon and philosopher, considered the second important after Hippocrates, was appointed physician to the gladiators and later when the great plague broke he was summoned by Marcus Aurelius to help out. Unfortunately Marcus Aurelius was persuaded to realease him but later on he became the personal physicial of his son Commodus.
He mentions in his works (300 out of which 150 have survived) how unique the Greek herbs are, not to be found in any other parts of the world. For this reason herbs, plants and seeds were imported from Greece, especially from Crete and were cultivated by the men of the Emperor.”
*Seseli – a rosid dicot genus that includes moon carrots genus Seseli rosid dicot genus – a genus of dicotyledonous plants Apiaceae, carrot family, family Apiaceae, family Umbelliferae, Umbelliferae – plants having flowers in umbels: parsley; carrot; anise; caraway; celery; dill moon carrot, stone parsley – any plant of the genus Seseli having dense umbels of small white or pink flowers and finely divided foliage.
You will find this herb in many of my recipes, usually together with myronia.
Myronia or Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium), is another Greek aromatic herb in the parsley family.
If you cannot find these herbs you substitute them with some other aromatic herbs such as parsley.
Recently, I made spanakopita and I had lots of kafkalithres and had some leftover green spring onions leaves and other herbs, so I made this dish as a mezes. I also added pasto which is a Greek cured pork from Lakonia, Peloponnese, with wonderful flavour and made it kagianas, which is like scrambled eggs.
In the recipe below I do not give precise quantities because I added a little bit of everything but I give you an indication on the quantities I have used. I also had 2 leftover egg yolks from another recipe so I added them together with 1 whole eggs but for the amounts given, you can use 2 – 3 whole eggs.
Kagianas me Kafkalithres, myronia and Pasto
- 2 – 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 spring onions, including the green part
- 1 clove garlic
- Kafkalithres (about 1/2 cup)
- Myronia (about 1/2 cup)
- Spinach (about 1 cup)
- Dill (about 1 tbsp)
- Parsley (about 1 tbsp)
- 1 egg and 2 egg yolks
- Pasto Lakonias, cut into small pieces (about 1/2 cup)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Heat the olive oil in a non stick frying pan and sauté the white part of the green onion and garlic, until translucent. Add the finely chopped spinach, kafkalithres, myronia, dill and parsley and cook for a few more minutes until they wilt.
- Add, pasto salt, pepper and mix for a minute.
- Add the eggs and mix until the eggs are cooked.
I love making pestos and have made many quite unusual pestos. This is a great way to preserve some herbs in the deep freezer and use it whenever you like. I don’t add cheese to my pestos as I want to be able to use it in vegan recipes but when the recipe is a non vegan one, I add some cheese as well.
Kafkalithres Pesto with Almonds, recipe by Ivy
- 1 cup kafkalithres
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/2 cup almonds (I used roasted ones)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp wine vinegar
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
To prepare pesto mix all the ingredients in a food processor. Add olive oil until it reaches the right consistency.
A reminder for my event of Creative Concoctions #4 – Cooking with Olive Oil. The deadline for this event is the 26th May, 2011 and will be looking forward to your entries.
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,