Once again Crete trapped us with its flavors and wild greens.
Last year we got in a restaurants some extraordinary kalitsounia with fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) that I never forgot.
On Crete as in other Mediterranean countries we can find it growing, beside the road in empty lots, in fields, on hillsides and not far from the sea. We can find really a lot of it here. The edible parts of this plant are the light green fronds and the seeds.
Don’t expect to find near the road on Crete the big edible bulbs like the edible ones from the shops, wild fennel is thinner it has no bulbs, but the taste of its bright green fronds is wonderful. We can use this more or less like dill, but it taste like fennel.
If you don’t have wild fennel fronds you can replace them with “normal” fennel fronds (only the tender ones!) or finely minced fennel bulb. The result will not be exactly the same but this would make a change on your table. Perhaps you can add a little ouzo to the filling to enhance the flavor; let it cook until adsorbed first.
For this recipe combined the wild fennel fronds with wild edible greens known under the generic name of “horta” (one example is example vlita a kind of leaf amaranth), but spinach or chard would be a good substitute.
I’ve finished to prepare them just before sunset. I placed the dish at sun as I wanted to catch the last sunrays.
There a lot different kalitsounia on Crete; a simple variant of this recipe is using fresh soft myzithra cheese (or ricotta) as filling. We also had a sweet version, baked in the oven and topped with cinnamon.
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/3 cup water
- 2-4 tablespoon olive oil (+ oil for frying)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 cup minced fennel springs
- 300 g fresh greens (wild greens, spinach or chard)
- 12 mint leaves, or to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Olive oil for frying.
- In a bowl combine all the ingredients for the dough and work until you get smooth dough. Set aside to rest while you prepare the filling.
- Fry the onion in olive oil until translucent on medium heat.
- Reduce heat and add greens. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Remove the cover, turn the vegetables and cook until liquid (if any) is adsorbed.
- Season with salt, pepper and mint to taste.
- Divide the dough into 16 portions and form balls. The quantity depends on the size you wish.
- Roll out the balls, fill with a portion of greens and close them tight making fancy borders.
- Fry (or deep fry) the kalitsounia in the pan on both sides until golden. Make several portions for cooking.