Τσιγαρέλλι — Tsigarelli

Corfiots like their food spicy and this simple dish of stewed wild greens is no exception. I first tasted Tsigarelli in a local taverna, “O Yiannis,” located on a small side street just wide enough to accomodate one passing vehicle in a Corfu Town suburb known as Mon Repo. The taverna is definitely my favorite among all we’ve tried on the island. The taverna’s owner, Yianni, is a spirited Corfiot with a vibrant personality and perpetual smile that make everyone that enters his humble establishment feel like family.

The food at Taverna “O Yiannis” is fresh, traditional and always prepared with plenty of heart and soul. You can taste the pride and passion that Yianni and his staff possess in every bite of their Sofrito, Stifatho, Pastitsada, Soutzoukakia, roasted meats and, of course, their Tsigarelli.

Tsigarelli is quite simply tender wild greens–both bitter and sweet (i.e. swiss chard, dandelions, mustard greens and mache)–sauteed with onions, garlic, herbs (primarily fennel fronds) and olive oil and reddened with plenty of hot paprika or red chili pepper. The dish has been modified as of late with the addition of a bit of tomato. I stuck to the simplicity of the traditional Tsigarelli adding onion, garlic, fennel fronds, hot paprika and red pepper flakes to the Chicory greens I chose to use. This is a great side dish that goes well with virtually anything it is served with … You can even serve it over creamy polenta for a lighter main dish. Just make sure you have plenty of crusty bread on hand to mop up the sauce!

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Τσιγαρέλλι — Tsigarelli

3 pounds Chicory (about 2 large heads)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons chopped tomatoes
3 tablespoons finely chopped fennel fronds
Dash of crushed red pepper flakes 
Hefty pinch of cayenne pepper
Hefty pinch of paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt

Trim about 1-1/2 to 2 inches from the bottom stems of the chicory and then wash the greens well in a large basin filled with cold water. Bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook the chicory uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tender (about 5 minutes). Drain well in a colander and set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet or pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until fragrant and translucent. Stir in the red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper and paprika and cook for a minute longer. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer the mixture for 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the chicory and fennel fronds, stirring to coat. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes or so. Stir in the salt and serve.

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11 Responses to “Τσιγαρέλλι — Tsigarelli”

  1. Mmmmmmm love xorta! Never had it with the tomatoes though – this is great for fasting coming up. PS. Corfu is beautiful! My grandparents took their honeymoon there.

  2. This is sensational! My parents do a similar version with more tomatoes and less spice/heat. Thank you for sharing this Maria!

  3. Peter says:

    Gorgeous dish Maria and my Florina roots are really wanting this zesty horta dish.

    Aglaia Kremezi also just posted a Tsigarelli recipe today….a good omen!

  4. admin says:

    Thanks for the tip Peter! I was completely psyched to see Aglaia actually left a comment on my Ekmek Kataifi post … the highlight of my blogging career thus far!! She is easily my favorite Greek cook and I admire her very much.

  5. Ivy says:

    Love the horta especially with fennel fronds.

  6. Elizavet says:

    This looks fabulous! I’ve been searching forever for the recipe for the wonderful spicy “horta” (greens) I always order at O Psaras in Plaka. I’m pretty sure this is it. Can’t wait to try it out! This would be great next to a side of hot cheese saganaki. O Psaras makes their cheese saganaki with smoked cheese – probably from Metsovo. Decadant.

  7. Great dish for lent. I love the photographs.

  8. elly says:

    I love any kind of greens, and these do not look like an exception! My husband always laughs at me when I tell him I could easily down a whole plate of xorta as a kid ;)

  9. [...] by many this time of year. Staples include Taramosalata, olives, Halva, lots of simply prepared Horta (leafy greens), plenty of legumes and beans, Gemista (rice-stuffed peppers and tomatoes) and [...]

  10. Ivonne says:

    Wow, Maria! Everything on your blog looks delicious! I’m a big fan of Greek food so hopefully I can try some of the recipes!

  11. Oh this looks fabulous! I’ve never had anything like this before but would love to try it sometime!

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