Today’s recipe has a weird name and many of you may be wondering what stiftaria or casarecce, spirulina and kritamo may be. When I added the picture on Facebook, even Greeks did not know what this was about.
Casarecce is a short, slightly tubular pasta, about one inch long, with a wonderful trench for sauce.
Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that is rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids, antioxidants that can help protect cells from damage. It contains nutrients, including B complex vitamins, beta-carotene, vitamin E, manganese, zinc, copper, iron, selenium, and gamma linolenic acid (an essential fatty acid).
Kritamo (Sea Fennel) scientific name Crithmum Maritimum L, which belongs to the Αpiaceae (Umbelliferae) family, is an edible halophyte with various economical interests because of its high secondary metabolite content. It is a wild plant, growing in rocky seashore places, with an intense aroma and salty taste and has been known since antiquity. Ancient Greeks named it Crithmum (κρίθμον) as it resembled the seeds of barley (called krithos in Greek). According to Dioskourides it can be eaten raw in salads, cooked or preserved in vinegar. Kritamo is rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, as well as phenolic compounds.
Source: Spirulina | University of Maryland Medical Center - Crithmum Maritimum – Flora Cythera Unbound Medicine
Both spirulina and kritamo (sea fennel) are dried and powdered and can be used in cooking.
This pasta was made the same way any pasta with spinach, tomato or peppers etc., are made but enriched with spirulina and kritamo (sea fennel) which are both rich in nutritional qualities. The green colour of the pasta is due to both these ingredients. According to the package ingredients 1.5% of spirulina was used and 15% fresh sea fennel.
My children did not want the pasta in a tomato sauce but I can assure you, you won’t miss the tomato sauce once you taste this pasta dish flavored with Greek sausage and cheese. The recipe is incredibly easy to make and the ingredients I used, create their own sauce.
I made a peasant style recipe with some of the ingredients I bought and some given to me from the Grocery for the Mediterranean Diet. I used extra virgin olive oil, sausages, dried anthotyros, feta, mushrooms and bell peppers. To make the sauce, I made a roux and used white dry wine and cheese. I avoided to use heavy cream because the sausages and cheese are quite rich so I tried to keep the dish on the healthy side.
You must be wondering how can sausages and fatty cheese be healthy? Well my answer is that these should not be excluded from our diet. These foods are part of the Mediterranean Diet and we should not forget that these are what our parents and grandparents ate. There were no low-fat products then and heart attacks were more rare than today. New studies show that adding some cholesterol in our diet is not as bad as we used to believe. The amount of sausage and cheeses used is not that much considering that this amount is for 6 – 7 portions. What we need is more exercise to burn the fat.
Note: If you cannot find this type of pasta, any type of casarecce can be used. Instead of dried anthotyros you can substitute with parmesan and use any kind of sausages you like.
Choriatika Striftaria me Spiroulina kai Kritamo (Peasant style Casarecce with Spirulina and Sea Fennel)
Serves: 6 – 7
- 500 grams striftaria (casarecce) with Spirulina & Kritamo
- 250 grams mushrooms
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 200 grams Greek sausages
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves roasted garlic
- 230 grams various peppers
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp all purpose flour
- 250 ml white dry wine
- A pinch of oregano and thyme
- Black pepper
- 30 grams dried anthotyros
- 60 grams crumbled feta
- Salt (at will)
- Heat the olive oil and sauté the mushrooms for only a couple of minutes as they should remain firm. Remove from the skillet and add the other tbsp olive oil.
- Saute the sausage on one side, turn over and add onion and garlic and mix for a couple of minutes. Add the flour and mix to make a roux.
- Add the wine and deglaze. Add the mushrooms and peppers, as well as spices and cook for 5 minutes.
- Meantime heat the water, add salt and cook the pasta for 4 – 5 minutes according to package instructions.
- Remove with a slotted ladle directly into the skillet, add dried anthotyros and feta and cook until all the sauce is absorbed.
- Taste and adjust salt. (I did not add any extra salt as the pasta has been cooked in salt, the cheeses are salty and the sausage also contains salt).
- Serve with extra grated anthotyros on top.
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,