At this time of the year there is an abundance of delicious summer vegetables in season here in Crete. Cretan kitchens are literally over-run though by courgettes and eggplant, and finding new and creative ways to use them (and make the children eat them) can be a very interesting and extremely delicious task!
So, having tried quite a few recipes and traditional ideas of late I decided to share a few with ‘et al’…
The most common courgette plate here in Crete would have to be the Chania boureki, covered or open pie. Very simple indeed…
Courgettes 5-6 sliced into rounds
Potatoes – 4-5 sliced also into rounds
Mizithra cheese – approx. 400gm
Fresh mint chopped – approx. half a cup
Olive oil – 1 cup
Salt & Pepper
Hard cheese grated for topping
Oil a deep oven dish and set oven to 220 degrees C. Place all ingredients in a deep bowl and mix together with spoons or hands. Place in oiled oven dish, press down to pack the whole mixture together. Sprinkle more mizithra and also grated hard cheese on top, (as much as you like) and place in oven for approx. 1 hour.
Note: Chania Boureki is also to be seen made in layers like a lasagne, (and with a pastry topping like a pie) but ask any Cretan lady with a busy schedule and she’ll tell you ‘it all goes down the same way so just put it all in a bowl and mix’ !!
Next up – Briam
Again a very simple summer dish, usually made with courgettes, eggplant, tomatoes and potatoes – but you can add absolutely any vegetables you wish. I usually add carrots, onion, peppers and have even added sprouts!!
2-3 eggplants – cut into 6 chunks
2-3 courgettes – cut into 6 chunks
2-3 large tomatoes – cut into 4 chunks
5-6 carrots – cut into large chunks of 4-5 pieces
2 peppers any colour – cut into large chunks2 onions – quartered
Fresh Mint – 1/4 cup
Basil – to your taste
2 cloves of garlic – mashed
Parsley – 1/4 cup
Olive oil – 1 cup
Water – 1 cup
Salt and Pepper
Here again the preparation is very simple, oil a large oven dish, (the round type work better here) set oven to 220 degrees C. Cut all vegetables as noted above and toss into oven dish, add herbs and salt and pepper and mix altogether. To your cup of olive oil add your mashed garlic and mix together then pour over vegetables. Add 1 cup or just under of water (the vegetables will make a lot of their own juice) Cover with tinfoil and bake in oven for 40minutes, remove tin foil and continue baking for approximately 30 minutes more. Serve at room temperature with a little feta cheese and fresh crusty bread ….. scrumptious beyond words
Now for my 4yr olds favourite:
These are very more-ish be warned, once you start you can’t stop…
3-4 medium to large courgettes
150gm minced beef
1/2 cup of Carolina rice
Dill (to your taste)
Salt & Pepper
In a large oiled frying pan brown your mince, then add your rice and fry until it just starts to brown. Add dill and salt and pepper.
Slice off each end of your courgettes. Core them being careful not to break the skin. Discard inside of courgettes or keep for making courgette patties. Holding the courgette upright in the palm of your hand carefully spoon in meat and rice mixture, packing well as you go. Fill all courgettes. Place in pressure cooker side by side and on top of each other, add 2 cups of water. Close pressure cooker and once pressure is ready cook for 8 minutes.
Beat eggs and lemon together, slowly add a few spoons of the cooked juice to your egg lemon mixture (you want to make a sauce not scrambled eggs!) when your egg lemon sauce is warm you may add it to the pot with courgettes and shake pot gently to mix in with rest of juices.
I think I may go home now, the hunger pangs are kicking in!!
Another recipe I saw this morning on FB, which sounds equally delicious is courgette omelette, simply slice some courgettes into frying pan and shallow fry til slightly brown. Remove from pan and disregard oil. Beat 3-4 eggs and add salt and pepper. Put courgettes back in pan and pour in egg mix. VOILA….
and of course courgettes stuffed with bacon and parmesan…. I will be trying these and let you know!
So you see, lots to be done with our summer veggies, a very healthy way of eating and living on our beautiful island.
With love from Crete.