Crete's Culinary Sanctuaries

Special "Greens" Report, March 2008
Copyright © 2008 Nikki Rose. All rights reserved.  No
portion of this website can be copied without
express written consent.

                      A place where
                     greens are always "in"
Clean Monday (the first day of Lent) is just around the
corner.  We’ve enjoyed a roller coaster ride of unusually
cold and hot weather.  Our foothills were radiant with a
dusting of snow for a while.  We had to look twice to
believe it.  Before that, more fantastic and destructive
thunderstorms passed through.  The high winds carried
the sea mist half a mile into the foothills like thick fog.  
The palm trees were invited along for the ride but
thankfully they only waved (dramatically!).  It’s amazing
that most of the vegetables in our garden endured it all.  
Sea salt and vegetables don’t mix until
after the harvest.

From the bounties of Spring, there is much to enjoy.  The
traditional fasting period of 40 days before Pascha
(Easter) is pretty much like other religious holidays
around the world.  The devout follow the doctrines and
others just enjoy the delicious choices on
the sporadic
 During Lent, no food from creatures that have
blood in their veins is allowed in the house.  That
includes fish, cheese and yogurt.  We don't have many
cows here, so giving up beef, milk or butter is not even a
part of these directives.  No wine is allowed most days,
which is rarely observed now, thankfully!

The concept of fasting is to cleanse the body of rich
foods and possibly dangerous foods like impure meats
(our first nutrition and food safety directives).  Greeks are
practiced in the art of creating wonderful dishes using a
vast array of ingredients from land and sea.  The further
into Spring this movable feast goes, the more options
there are from the garden.  On Clean Monday (FYI, there
is no Fat Tuesday in the Orthodox religion),  residents
flock to fishing ports for seafood feasts.  There’s also a
modern custom of flying kites.  The skies are filled with a
kaleidoscope of colors and the laughter of children
echoes through the village.      

             CCS on the Move!
            not quite at a snail's pace!

Our 2008 Seminars are underway!  Most Spring
programs are already fully booked.  There is still
time to join us this year for one of our dynamic  
educational travel programs:  

May 16 - 24:
  Wild Nature Adventures take us to the
rugged coast and mountains for cycling, canoeing and
long hikes to work up hearty appetites for excellent
cuisine along the way.  

June 17-23:  Cultural-Culinary Immersion
agriculture and cuisine along the way.  Numerous
cooking demos and visits with organic farmers and
artisan producers.

September 28-October 4 and October 5-11:
The Mediterranean Diet:  Refreshing Your
Understanding, Translating it to the Plate.   
A Continuing Education Program for Professionals
organized with Field to Plate

Full details are on our  
Schedule Page
Swiss Chard with Mushrooms and Black Eyed Peas
Serves 4 people as a hearty side dish

Chard (filades) is one of those wonder greens indigenous to the Mediterranean region.  The ancient Greeks,
including Aristotle, noted the benefits of chard.  A few thousand years later, a 19th century Swiss botanist identified
the plant and it's likely that many people think chard is from Switzerland!  The customary way to cook chard in Crete
is to either boil it and serve with a little olive oil and lemon juice or to present it in high-style, encased in homemade
pastry dough.  It's milder than kale or collards and tougher and more pungent than spinach.  It has it's own earthy
identity that marries well with robust flavors from the garden and forest.  I also like chard this way:

2 pounds of fresh Chard (whatever variety looks good to you)
2 Tablespoons robust extra virgin olive oil
2 leeks or 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced (any variety works, the stronger the better)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup black eyed peas, previously cooked
1/4 cup rich vegetable stock
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/8 cup chopped dill
Salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste

1.  Clean the Chard well under cold water.  Chop the tender part of the stems and reserve.  Line up the leaves, roll
into a cylinder and slice about 1-inch wide.    
2.  In a large heavy, stainless steel stockpot over medium heat, sauté the leeks in olive oil and a pinch of salt just
until they are soft.  Add the mushrooms and sauté until they are lightly brown.  Add the garlic and sauté one minute
3.  Add the Chard stems and sauté for 3 minutes.
4.  Add as much Chard to the pot as will fit.  Let it wilt down and add the rest when there is room.  Stir frequently.  
5.  Add the peas, stock and herbs, lower the heat and simmer until the Chard is just soft (about 5 minutes).  

Serve in shallow bowls with a splash of lemon juice.  Goes great with dakos or fresh wholemeal bread.

Lentil Salad with Peppers and Scallions
Serves 2-4 as part of meze

We enjoy a lot of lentil soup here during the cooler months.  But when the weather is warmer, I also like lentils as
part of a cold meze.  You can use any beans you like for this dish or combine a few together

1 cup lentils
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 large bell pepper or wax pepper, diced
3 Tablespoons pitted, diced olives
3 scallions, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons chopped parsley
a pinch of hot chili pepper (optional)
Salt and black pepper to taste

Boil the lentils until soft (about 30 minutes depending on the type).  Drain, transfer to a bowl and immediately add
the olive oil.  Place in the refrigerator until cool.  Add the remaining ingredients and refrigerate/marinate for at least
30 minutes before serving.  

Goes great with a hunk of bread, feta cheese and sliced tomatoes!  

Potato Salad with Cabbage and Arugula
Serves 2

2 medium potatoes, boiled in their skins until just tender, peeled and diced into large pieces
2 teaspoons E.V. olive oil
1 cup of green or purple cabbage, sliced into bite-size strips
1/2 cup arugula, sliced into strips
1 small onion, halved then sliced thinly
1 small hot chili pepper, minced (or a pinch of dried pepper)
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
Salt and black pepper to taste

Add olive oil to potatoes when they are still warm.  Bring to room temperature then mix together with remaining
ingredients and enjoy!   

Pasta with Marinated Artichokes and Sweet Red Peppers
...and whatever else is in the fridge and dry storage

When I lived in Washington, my family often visited unexpectedly, as family is (usually) welcome to do.  I never
seemed to have a crumb of food in my  house when they showed up.  It was an ongoing joke.  With my crazy work
and travel schedule and dismal restaurant salary, produce in my fridge frequently turned into science experiments.  
Fresh and local was not much of an option back then either.  One evening, my Brother John arrived with a nice bottle
of red wine, as was customary.  He opened my fridge and asked the usual question, "Do you ever have anything to
eat in your house?"  I surprised him a few times by pulling dinner out of hat from what appeared to be
accompany the wine before it disappeared.

Here is one memorable magic trick:
Serves 4 people (depending on their appetite)

1/2 pound of pasta (Penne works good for this)
1 cup of greens (bite-size pieces of asparagus, broccoli, or frozen peas)
4 tablespoons of robust extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 jar of marinated artichoke hearts (drained) or 1 of cup frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted
1/2 sweet red pepper, chopped
1/4 cup of precooked white beans (or pinto beans, black eyed peas)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Ground black pepper to taste
Fresh parsley, chopped (yielding about 1/4th cup)
1/2 cup of rich vegetable stock
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
(hold the salt until you taste the completed dish)

1.  In a heavy stainless steel stockpot, boil the pasta until it just begins to soften.  You don't want to cook it
completely, just to pre-al dente stage.  Add the greens during the last 2 minutes of this stage.  
2.  While the pasta is cooking:  In a large sauté pan over medium heat, sauté the garlic in olive oil for just 1 minute.
3.  Add the vegetables and spices.  Let those flavors meld for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently.  
4.  Add the stock and bring the sauce to a gentle boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for 3 minutes.
5.  When your pasta is done, drain it and return the big stockpot to the stove over low heat.  Add the sauce (every
drop) then add the pasta and gently toss together.  Don't stir too much afterwards as you'll risk creating mush.  
Instead, cover the pot, hold the lid tight and toss it like popcorn.  Simmer the mixture just until the pasta reaches the
desired stage of al dente (about 3 minutes).  Top with crumbled feta and enjoy with a simple salad!  

Orange Salad with Wild Thyme Honey and Cinnamon
Serves 4 people

We eat a lot of oranges and Clementinas around here.  There are a few trees in our yard and some friends have big  
orchards.  Oranges are our typical desert.  We just eat them as they are along with apples and pears in season. But
if we have company, we might jazz them up for show.  Thyme grows in many places here, so our honeybees are
naturally attracted to the lovely scent.  Beekeepers might also move their hives to prime spots each the season

8 medium oranges, peeled, seeded and sliced 1/2 inch thick
3 Tablespoons Honey
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

Just arrange on a platter, drizzle honey on top, sprinkle with cinnamon and eat!

Kali Orexi!  
Nikki Rose
Copyright© 2008 Nikki Rose
             Recipes in this Issue:

  • Chard with Mushrooms and Black Eyed Peas
  • Lentil Salad with Peppers and Olives
  • Potato Salad with Cabbage and Arugula
  • Pasta with Artichoke Hearts, Sweet Red
    Peppers and whatever else is in the fridge
  • Oranges with Thyme Honey and Cinnamon

See our Recipe page for more ideas!  Kali Orexi!
Favorite Lenten Cuisine:  Octopus, calamari, cuttlefish,
clams, mussels, shrimp, sea urchin. Splash some
lemon juice on top and eat!  No sauces necessary.  Why
mess up a good thing?  Fresh octopus is delicious just
grilled and served with a little olive oil, vinegar and
oregano.  Snails are prepared in many ways -- braised
with rosemary and vinegar, added to barley with
There’s also plenty of seasoned rice in edible
containers -- grape leaves, cabbage leaves, zucchini
blossoms, whole zucchini, tomatoes or green peppers.  
Beautiful vegetable and legume stews round off the
choices.  Of course, there’s always horta!  

Kali Orexi!  Nikki Rose
and the CCS Network
outstanding new books!    

The New Agritourism, Hosting Community and Tourists
on Your Farm (New World Publishing)
by Barbara Berst Adams, a noted author and farmer

"How your eco- farm, garden business or sustainability
group can benefit from the new agritourism and local
food revival."

The Jungle Effect: A Doctor Discovers the Healthiest
Diets from Around the World -- Why They Work and How
to Bring Them Home (Collins
by Dr. Daphne Miller

Review by Michael Pollan:  "...The Jungle Effect is a
fascinating, useful and important book."

Lonely Planet, Guidebook to Crete (Revised Edition)
by Victoria Kyriakopoulos.  An excellent publication!

CCS Entered National Geographic's Geotourism
Find out more about CCS and see other
community-based programs around the world, where
people are working hard to protect their cultural and
natural heritage for all of us to enjoy.  
Outside link
Clementina (with other meze...look closely!)
Garden Work!
Meze: Horta, Fava, Dakos and Mezithra
Panos cleaning Stamnagathi (it grows among sticker bushes and it's worth more than gold!)
Fishing always looks easier than it is!
Piping Hot White Bean Soup with Carotts
The catch of the day doesn't get any fresher than this!
Broccoli and Potatoes with Olive Oil and Lemon Juice
Marouli (lettuce salad)
Stuffed Grape Leaves and Artichokes -- great vegetarian choices!
Panos Collecting Horta
On the beach