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Wild and Cultivated Greens in Greek Recipes

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Leafy greens fresh from the garden

Leafy greens fresh from the garden

Photo © N. Gaifyllia, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Greens are a favorite Greek food - eaten raw, boiled, cooked in casseroles, and as herbs. The greens listed here grow in the wild, and of course there are others that are cultivated for cooking as well. In your garden, local grocery stores, and farmer's markets, you may be able to grow or find some of these fabulous greens.

Here is a listing of some favorite Greek wild greens and how they can be used. Unfortunately, I don't have all the English translations so some are omitted. They often have very different names across the country.

First, let's start with a (partial) list of favorite Greek greens and herbs that are picked on a regular basis for inclusion in almost every meal - as a side dish (salad), main dish, or herb. Some you may recognize; others may be unknown or greens that you have never considered eating:

  • Arugula (Rocket)
  • Borage
  • Bulbs
  • Burr Chervil
  • Cabbages (white, red, kale, etc.)
  • Catnip (Catmint, Nepeta)
  • Chard
  • Chicory
  • Collards
  • Dandelion Greens
  • Dock
  • Eryngo
  • Fennel
  • Golden Thistle
  • Leeks
  • Mache (Lamb's Lettuce, Wild Lettuce)
  • Mallow
  • Nettles
  • Palmer Amaranth (Albersia, Vlita)
  • Poppy
  • Purslane
  • Silene (Campion, Catchfly)
  • Sow-thistle
  • Spinach
  • Spiny Chicory
  • White Beet Leaves
  • Wild Parsley
  • Wild Parsnip
    as well as various mustard greens.

Best Greens for Boiling Horta (partial list)

  • Brassicae greens (kale, collard greens)
  • Burr Chervil
  • Chicory
  • Dandelion Greens
  • Eryngo
  • Notchweed
  • Palmer Amaranth
  • Sow-thistles
  • Spinach
  • Spiny Chicory
  • Wild Lettuce (Mache)
  • Wild Chicory
  • Wild Mustard Greens

Best Cooked in Casseroles as Vegetables or Herbs (partial list)

  • Chard
  • Dock
  • Fennel
  • Leeks
  • Silene
  • Spinach
  • White Beet Leaves
  • Wild Parsnip

Note: Greens are especially good cooked with pork and an avgolemono (egg and lemon juice) sauce stirred in. Fennel and leeks are often cooked with snails, various meats, and cuttlefish. All of the casserole greens are fabulous in Hortopitakia, phyllo pies made with greens and herbs.

For Use in Salads

Depending on how sweet or bitter you like your greens, almost all the above can be eaten in salads (raw or wilted), with an olive oil and lemon juice or vinegar dressing, or with vinegar alone.

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