September 16, 2016 Fly me to the moon

Greece’s Wild Edible Greens: Horta and More

Collecting, cooking and enjoying wild edible greens in Greece dates back to ancient times. Here’s a look at what you can forage for in Greece…

horta-wild-greens

Horta. Photo credit: ShopEatSleep

Greece’s Wild Edible Greens

Wild plants are a delicious part of the Mediterranean diet, especially here in Greece. Not only are they great to spot out in nature but when eaten, they provide nutritional components and excellent digestive qualities.

fennel

Fennel. Photo credit: Alice Henneman

Ancient Greeks knew that in some form.  Fennel was called marathon which is the name of a famous ancient Greek town known for the Battle of Marathon and the origins of the much loved long distance race. However, the town itself got this very name because it was full of wild growing fennel.  The plant was even written into Greek mythology. Prometheus used a stalk of it to steal fire from the gods.

So Wild: So Many Greens

Greek-American food writer Diane Kochilas recently wrote about the Greeks love of collecting these wild plants and what can essentially be defined as weeds. In her post about the topic, she says there are more than 300 edible wild greens collected. The most popular is called horta, which is actually a weed with a tangy often bitter flavor but it is full of vitamins and minerals. During hard times, such as the war when starvation was widespread, people survived on horta – collecting and pulling them wherever they would grow on roadsides and fields.

arugula

Arugula

Go to any farmer’s market in Athens today and you’ll see horta and wild greens for sale. Greeks will argue that wild edible greens are cleaner and purer than their cultivated counterparts since no fertilizers are used.  It’s not uncommon to see someone once in a while searching for horta by the more country-like roadsides and abandoned lots across Greece, from the quiet urban lots to the landscapes of the peaceful Greek islands.

ABC’s of Wild Edible Greens

Looking to learn more? Different wild greens are picked during certain times of the year. Also note that wild greens are different from wild herbs and therefore used differently. Wild greens, like horta, can be eaten as a boiled salad. Herbs such as oregano, thyme or mint, simply add flavor and a little “kick” to a recipe.

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With more people pursuing organic gardening and more people interested in eating whole foods, people are really looking into what Greeks are foraging for — wild greens that are proven to be flavorful additions to the famously healthy and delicious Greek diet.

Here’s a short list of common wild greens with familiar names that Greek people seek out.

  • Wild Artichoke
  • Black mustard (wild mustard, agrioovrouves, pikrovrouves)
  • Caper- Capparis spinosa
  • Arugula (azoumato)
  • Dandelion

As you can see, Greek gastronomy really makes use of the rich nature of the landscape where something called a weed can be a tasty and nutritious dish loved by all.

BOTTLED-CAPER-LEAVES

Caper Leaves

Have you ever foraged for wild edible greens? It’s possible to venture out with Fly Me to the Moon on an exciting foraging trip to do this!  It’s a great way to discover lovely locations with local Greek gastronomy.  Our experts can be right by your side to help you find and pick different greens and teach you exactly how to cook them into wonderful meals.

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