One of my favourite Greek herbs is kafkalithres.   It’s scientific name is Tordylium Apulum.

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.

Ancient Greek names are 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

Kafkalithres are a winter herb and you can find them in the farmers’ market from January until late April.  I love them raw in salads, cooked in spanakopita, which adds an amazing taste, I have made a pesto of kafkalithres, which I have in the deep freezer to use now that is is out of season, I add it to various recipes etc.

That day 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 add exact quantities because I added a little bit of everything.  I had 2 leftover egg yolks from another recipe so I added the 2 yolks and 1 whole eggs, but you can use only whole eggs.

Kagianas me Kafkalithres, myronia and Pasto, recipe by Ivy


  • 2 – 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Kafkalithres
  • Spinach
  • Spring onions, only the green part,
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Dill
  • Parsley
  • Myronia or Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium), another Greek aromatic herb
  • 1 egg and 2 egg yolks
  • Pasto Lakonias
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Heat the olive oil in a non stick frying pan and sauté the green onions and garlic, until translucent.   Add spinach, kafkalithres, myronia, dill and parsley and cook for a few 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 roased one)
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.

I am sending these recipes to Simona, of Briciole, who is hosting this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging # 283.

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,

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20 Comments on Kagianas me Kafkalithres, myronia and pasto Lakonias

  1. Rosa says:

    I've never heard of that herb. Surely delicious. Fabulous food as always!



  2. Banana Wonder says:

    I am super curious about hartwort now – I think I saw it at the Portland Farmers market yesterday. What does it taste like? Your pesto looks incredible. In refernece to the Indian cuisine – I was talking about Indian from the country of India. There is little known about Native American Indian cooking in the states – it's a sad truth and part of America's history that the Native American population has not been well represented in modern culture today (and the past)… I did, however, eat acorn soup made from a Native American Californian tribe when I was a kid at summer camp.

    • Anna, it's kind of difficult to describe the taste of kafkalithres as it is quite unique but it is aromatic and from what I have read it belongs to the seseli family of plants which includes carrots, parsley, anise, celery, dill etc but does not taste like any of these.
      Thanks for clarifying about Indian food and yes it is a pity that their culture is not promoted.

  3. pierre says:

    everything around the spinach I love it !!have a good day !!
    My recent post Tuile dentelle orange- crémeux pistache et billes de gelée de pommes

  4. Annamaria says:

    How wonderful this post. I think even smell the scent of these herbs. I'm mad for this kind of thing. I agree with that emperor who was made to bring the seeds of these plants only from Greece. Congratulations to the recipe.

  5. Eftychia says:

    The pie looks very tasty but I never tasted kafkalithres. Is there a Cypriot name to this herb?

  6. Nadji says:

    Une herbe que je ne connais pas. Elle me fait penser un peu la coriandre.

    Des réalisations très appétissantes. J’aime beaucoup.

    A très bientôt.

  7. Caffettiera says:

    I don't know where or when, but I'm going to taste this herb. It actually grows in Puglia, wild, so I guess I should organise a trip there, or to Greece. Thank you for showing me it exists, now I can hunt for it!

    My recent post Need a spring clean Risi e bisi

  8. 5starfoodie says:

    This herb sounds very intriguing, would love to try the pesto with it, very neat.

  9. Cakelaw says:

    Hi Ivy, I have never before heard of hartwort. Before reading the comments I thought it might be like coriander (because it looks similar!), but clearly not. I learn something new all the time.
    My recent post TWD – Maple Cornmeal Biscuits

  10. I don't think I have ever had anything like this…the herb looks a bit like "coriander", isn't it?
    My recent post Spinach Taglierini with Eggplants and Tomatoes

  11. cheffresco says:

    Everything on here looks amazing! I've also never heard of hartwort. That pesto looks delicious!
    My recent post Rich Chicken Stew

  12. I have never tried kafkalithres, but this pesto looks wonderful! I will see if I can find it at the Farmers Market next time :)

  13. smartoak says:

    I love Tordylium! I've been trying to grow it in Scotland, but the snails like it even more than I do. I learnt to use it in Spanakopitta when I lived in Greece as a young girl. It's just not the same without!

  14. Claudia says:

    This looks so good I'm getting hungry just by looking at it! I'm going to try making this using your recipe. Thanks for posting it! Off to try it~
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  15. Mary says:

    That is interesting, I went on an internet search for this herb, didn’t find a US source for the seeds or plants. I did find this quote from “The Glorious Foods of Greece”: “Of all the wild greens in the region, chervil is the most beloved. It appears in countless stews, as well as in pies. The local kitchen boasts two types- kafkalithres, whose leaves are as big as clover but soft, almost downy, and mironia, what we recognize in America as the herb chervil. In these recipes they are interchangeable.”
    Mary recently posted..Asian-Style Almond Cilantro Sesame Dressing for Stir-Fry, Noodles, or SaladMy Profile

  16. […] aromatic plant species in the parsley family. My friend Mary, of Fit & Fed, left a comment in a previous post I had made regarding these herbs after google searching to find more about them, I quote from […]

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