I think I mentioned this last year, but here in parts of Greece, they cook using the whole courgette (zucchini) plant – tender stems, leaves, the yellow flowers and of course, the courgettes themselves.
The stems and leaves are commonly known as kolokythokorfades (κολοκυφοκορφάδες) meaning courgette “tender end growth”. In fact, kolokyhi, the first part of the word, is usually translated as courgette, but is applied to a variety of squash plants. It seems (after a bit of internet research) that most squash plant leaves and stems can be eaten.
I’ve had kolokythokorfades in Mystra (Laconia, Peloponnese) as a boiled salad dressed with good olive oil and a generous squeeze of fresh lemon. I’ve also encountered it as the main ingredient in layered pitas in Thessaly (Central Greece). Although, I’ve been told its a speciality originating in Arcadia – an area between Laconia and Central Greece. On market day, I was fortunate to find a bunch of kolokythokorfades for sale next to a mound of little courgettes and their flowers. Notice the little proto courgettes forming.
It was serendipity since I’ve been meaning to experiment with these for quite some time and my own plants in the garden have given up the ghost – lack of attention due to travelling. A brilliant green risotto was the result.
Courgette Greens Risotto
- 250 risotto rice
- olive oil
- 4-5 large courgette greens stems (kolokythokorfades)
- 5-6 courgette flowers
- 750ml vegetable stock
- salt and pepper
- 20g sage butter (or 2 finely chopped sage leaves and 20g knob of butter)
- 20g grated hard sharp cheese like kephalotyri
Clean and strip the more tender parts from the larger stems. Discard any tough large stems. Boil the greens for 3-4 minutes. Meanwhile, bring the stock to a simmer in a pot.
Meanwhile, clean and remove the pistil in the middle. Shred the flowers and set aside.
Drain the boiled greens, rinse with cold water. Squeeze out any excess water and roughly chop. Add to a pan with warming olive oil on a medium low heat. Add rice and one ladle of hot stock. The leaves will break down and form a lovely green sauce while the stems and proto courgette bits will remain intact. Stir and add another ladle of stock (keeping it at a simmer while you make the risotto) when the rice has absorbed the last. Continue until the last ladleful when you add the shredded courgette flowers.
When the stock has been absorbed and the rice is cooked, sprinkle on the grated cheese and add the knob of sage butter or the chopped sage leaves and a knob of butter. Stir in and turn off the heat.
Serve with a contrasting tomato salad.