A beautiful island, nestled in the heart of the Adriatic sea, seems unlikely, but is the crossroads of cultural exchanges. Its gastronomy has survived and is still living to its advantage as being the centre of civil, commercial and cultural exchanges. For over 400 years Venetian domination and periods of English, Russian and French rule have left their mark, the knowledge and the ingredients used in the western European cuisine through the recipes of traditional Corfiot dishes. Overall, Corfiot cuisine and especially that found in the villages, includes simple ingredients and recipes, originating from the Ancient Greek and Roman cuisine. A cuisine that has managed to survive through time and is rich in colour and imagination.
Olive oil, onion, garlic and pepper are the basic elements of almost every recipe and, of course, from an original Corfiot table, greenery is never absent. Green vegetables are always boiled. Fresh salads, with the most popular being roka and glistrida (not found anywhere else but in Corfu), together with the locally produced mellow and lightly flavoured wine which, when drunk by the Corfiots, induces them to burst into song.
Olive oil, used pure or cooked, is one of the major ingredients in the Corfiot cuisine as well as in the cuisine of all the Mediterranean countries.
The blossom-honey, an excellent and delicious addition to any breakfast table, with its delicate taste can be found almost everywhere in Corfu as the humidity, the flowers and the bees are the major factors in its production.
The koum-kouat, as liqueur, dessert sweet, jellied fruit or marmalade, is one of the characteristic Corfiot souvenirs. This delicious fruit, like small oranges, is a product of numerous graftings, originating from Japan and was introduced to Corfu in 1846.
- Fassolakia me Domata (Green Bean Casserole with Tomato)
- 2 pounds of fresh green beans or other long "string" bean
- 2 cups of tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 1 cup of olive oil
- 1 green pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 small bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup of water
- sea salt
- fresh ground pepper
- Anchovies (optional): if you like this salty fish, add a couple to the salad before tossing.
- Capers (optional): toss in a few if you like them.
PreperationWash the beans, cut off the tips and remove the stringy piece of fiber along the seam. Rinse the beans.
In a soup pot, sauté the onions in olive oil with a wooden spoon until they turn translucent.
Stir in the garlic and sauté a few minutes more. Add all the remaining ingredients and the water. Stir well, reduce heat, and simmer covered for 50 minutes or until the beans are tender. (Add more water if needed during cooking - boiling water.)
Serve warm. On the side, consider tzatziki or feta cheese, and certainly some great country bread.
Yield: 4 servings as a main dish, 6-8 as a side
Note: For a more substantial dish, add 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks.
- Horiatiki Salata (Greek Salad)
- 4-5 large, ripe, tomatoes
- 1 large red onion
- 1 cucumber
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1/4 pound of Greek feta cheese, sliced or cumbled
- dried Greek oregano (rigani)
- sea salt
- top quality extra virgin olive oil
- 1 dozen Greek olives (Kalamata, green Cretan olives, etc.)
- pickled pepperoncini hot peppers (garnish)
- 1 tablespoon of water (optional)
Wash and dry the tomatoes, cucumber, and green pepper. Clean off the outer skin from the onion, wash, and dry.
Cut the tomatoes into bite-sized irregularly shaped chunks, removing the core. Salt lightly.
lice the cucumber into 1/4-inch slices, cutting slices in half (whether or not you peel the cucumber is a personal choice). Salt lightly. Slice the pepper into rings, removing the stem and seeds. Salt lightly. Slice the onion into thin rings.
Combine the tomatoes, cucumbers, green pepper and onion in a large salad bowl. Sprinkle with oregano, pour olive oil over the salad, and toss. Just before serving, place the feta on top of the salad, either as a slice or crumbled (as in photo), and toss in some olives. Sprinkle the cheese with oregano (and pepper if desired), mix the oil and water and drizzle over the top, and serve, garnished with hot peppers.Yield: Serves 4-6
- Kolokythanthoi Yemistoi me Ryzi (Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms with Rice)
- 20 zucchini blossoms
- 1 1/2 cups of long grain rice
- 1 medium onion, grated
- 3 tomatoes, grated or finely chopped
- 1/2 bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 bunch of fresh mint, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil
- 1 cup of water
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
Rinse the zucchini blossoms individually, removing any external green leaves and internal pistil and stamen, using a sharp knife. Take care not to tear the blossoms. Once rinsed, place the bottom of each blossom into the opening of another to prevent from closing, and set aside to drain thoroughly.Note: The pistil and stamen do not need to be removed, but most Greek cooks do take them out.
Pat dry before using.
In a mixing bowl, combine rice, onion, tomatoes, parsley, mint, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Add 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil to help bind and mix thoroughly.
Carefully fill each blossom with 1 teaspoon of the mixture. Fold the open end of the blossom inward and turn underneath, and place in a wide pot or deep skillet. Continue until all blossoms are filled, and placed snugly in a single layer in the pot.
Add 1 cup of water and 1/4 cup of olive oil.Yield: 20 pieces
Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes.
Meatless stuffed zucchini blossoms are served at room temperature.