As Zakynthos is well known for its wild flowers and greens,
I would like to introduce you to a plant that is not easily found in the lower parts of Zakynthos, but can be easily found around the mountainous areas and the valley. A delicacy to many Zakynthians this time of year, we call them Kourkoutselia! ( Muscari as its known to us). This dish is a traditional Zakynthian dish and would not be served in the summer months due to the time of when the flowers are in bloom. If you are lucky to be on the Island in the winter months or for those who live here, this dish is a must!
The genus Muscari originated in the Old World and has been probably been around here in Zakynthos from the late 17th century and onwards as many would plant these bulbs in their gardens. It is now a wildflower, again from a bulb, it has a thin stem and flowers that are usually blue to purple in colour. They appear when the rains have settled in late February to the end of March.
How to cook:
2-3 bunches kourkoutselia
1-2 tspns. of Tomato paste (depending how many you have)
1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
some Zakynthian olive oil
How to prepare
Cut the stems if they are tough. If they are tender keep them. We usually keep the top part near the flowers for boiling.
Wash them and put them in a saucepan with a little water (to cover them).
Boil the flowers together with 1-2 tablespoons of tomato paste or tomato juice, a few cloves of chopped garlic and a little Zakynthian olive oil and salt to taste.
Boil until tender.
If necessary add water.
At the end of cooking, add vinegar to taste.
Optional, if not on Lent…. add eggs to the dish and poach within the tomato sauce., make sure you serve this dish with feta cheese and of course a Zakynthian village bread.