Horta - the Cretan Star of Vegan Food

 A Popular Grandma's Kind of Food with Wild Dandelion and Amaranth

 Nowadays, the Mediterranean diet and, in particular, the Cretan specific one is considered a model of a balanced diet, with proven benefits for the health and longevity of islanders. Cretans are lovers of traditions, keeping alive the memory of the way their grandparents used to cook in their country-life.

 Traditional Cretan cuisine uses many medicinal and aromatic plants, unknown or ignored by the new fast food culture and urban cuisine, based on semi-prepared foods. Therefore, do not be surprised when you see in the place of honor, in the menus of many traditional restaurants, the vegetarian dish called "Horta Vrasta" or "Vlyta", apparently, a simple stew of greens, seasoned with olive oil, lemon, and salt and sometimes accompanied by zucchini or boiled potatoes.

 In Greek, "Horta" (Χόρτα) means any kind of weeds or leafy greens. In terms of food, it refers to the leaves of two species of perennial medicinal plants, which grow in the wild, or more recently, are grown for widespread consumption - wild dandelion and amaranth (popularly known as "pigweed"), resulting in two variants of the same dish, with very close taste and consistency.

 Horta is a popular Grandma's kind of food, cooked quickly, very delicious, and nutritious. It can be served warm or cold, as a side dish, or a light, simple lunch/dinner. Both variants - either dandelion or amaranth - are rich in vitamin C, A, K, and fibers and very low in calories, with a slightly spicy aroma. Salt enhances its taste, and olive oil and lemon juice form the classic fresh summer dressing, the best choice when it comes to absorbing nutrients from vegetables and greens. 

 As a less dietary alternative, you will find in Crete, at many pastry shops, the Horta pie - ”Hortopita”, a sort of puff pastry with a delicious composition, similar to spinach pie.

 If you are a vegetarian or like green foods, you should definitely try a Horta on your holiday or if possible, incorporate it into your home diet.

 Kali Orexi! Bon Apetite!

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