Finding herb heaven in Syros

Posted on: 8th June, 2015

Category: A Flavour of West Cork

Contributor: Karen Austin

Lettercollum Kitchen Project, 22. Connolly St, Clonakilty. www.lettercollum.ie

This month’s recipe comes from Syros, a Greek island in the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea. We have done a house swap with a lovely Greek couple, one of who is a wonderful cook. We made the connection through some friends and have spent the week exploring and cooking on this beautiful island. It isn’t very big – about 20 kilometres long and it’s very hilly.

Walking around Syros is like tramping through a herb garden. We have been getting to know the island, driving to the north, as far as the road goes and then heading off on foot. It’s not only beautiful but smells delicious too. We’re sure all the goats that graze are self-marinating!

There are swathes of thyme, rosemary, fennel and sage and carpets of chamomile with lots of bees buzzing happily about their business. There are plenty of hives dotted around the countryside and the honey is delicious.

The paths lead down to hidden beaches, it can a bit of a clamber but the destination makes it worth it. Lots of hidden coves that are deserted and clean blue sea. The sea is cold. Too cold for me to enjoy swimming but I keep trying!

Capers are growing on the rocks. This is all news to me – I have to admit I had never considered where capers did grow, but there you go – little bushes sprout out of craggy rocks with capers on the end of the branches and very funky flowers. Apparently June is the real caper picking and pickling season but they are beginning now. No wonder so many dishes are served with capers here.

We had delicious basil and caper pesto the other day, drizzled over goat’s cheese.

It’s very simple, and very delicious. It’s certainly worth a try and I’d say it’s equally delicious served with fish.

Here’s the recipe…

 

Basil and Caper Pesto

Ingredients:

1 cup basil

1 cup parsley

zest and juice of 1 lemon

1tsp Dijon mustard

2dsp capers

approx 150mls olive oil

 

Method:

Put everything except the olive oil into a food processor or blender and buzz to a paste then drizzle in the olive oil. Don’t add salt, the capers are salty enough.

Eat with whatever you fancy – cheese, pasta, fish…

We’ll be back home by the time you read this, trying out our new recipes in the shop – hopefully our home made filo will taste as good as our friend Elisa’s!

Sunny greetings

Karen

 

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