Spring and Summer time is an explosion of colors in the vegetable gardens of the island.
The summer production begins with the pink king of the island, the red garlic of Erissos (to kókkino skórdo tou Erissoú), a red bulb, white inside, a small but super tasty pearl of Greece. For garlic lovers this is a must to discover and try, a unique taste easily digestible that was traditionally used for skordaliá (potatoes and garlic dip) which is normally served with fried fish, seafood or with boiled beets.
Then tomatoes (domátes) and zucchini (kolokythákia) with impressive dimensions start appearing, followed by eggplants (melitzánes), cucumbers (angoúri), red and green sweet or chilli peppers (kókkines kai prásines piperiés), fresh onions (fréska kremmýdia), sweet peas (bizélia or arakás), watermelons (Karpoúzia), melons (pepónia), and pumpkins (kolokýtha). Winter production is mainly made up of potatoes (patátes), broccoli (brókolo), cauliflower (kounoupídi), chicories (italiká radíkia), beetroots (pantzária), lettuce (maroúli), spinach (spanáki), chard (séscla), and leeks (prássa). It is possible to find local producers of vegetables in the municipal market in Argostoli (Dimotiki agorà) behind the main bus (KTEL) station.
Spontaneous, or wild vegetables (ágria hórta) are a staple of the Kefalonian kitchen, eaten raw or boiled in salads, in pies and sautéed.
The most commonly used are: samphire (krítamo), purslane (glistrída), rocket (róka), sweet peas (pisára), caper (kápari) and glasswort (armyríthra). They are usually consumed in salads and are an extremely rich source of mineral salts, a must in the hot summer days.
Wild chicories (radíkia), dandelion (pikralída), prickly goldenfleece (zochós), common poppies (paparoúnes) and amaranth (vlíta) are normally boiled or sautéed in the pan with extra virgin olive oil and garlic, except for vlíta that is normally just served boiled. Beautiful lila bouquets of Muscari neglectum (kalogíria) and Sparrow grass (sparángia & ovriés) are normally served boiled or in egg omelette, Milk Thistle (gaïdouránkatho), Venus’comb (skatzíkia), starflower (mbouratzína), Mediterranean hartwort (kafkalíthra), and sorrel (lápata) sautéed with spinach, leeks and onions are the ingredients to prepare tsigarídia a greens based Kefalonian recipe.
Almost every Kefalonian home as at least one tree in the garden. As with vegetables the variety of fresh fruit grown is extremely rich. Summer offers cherries (kerásia), sour cherries (výssina), red and yellow cherry plums (kókkini kai kítrini korómila), plums (damáskina), wild apricots (ágria veríkoka), strawberries (fráoules), peaches (rodákina), pears (achládia), arbutus berry (koúmara), and figs (sýka). In Autumn we see quinces (kydoniá), persimmons (lotós) and pomegranates (rodiá). In winter time the landscape of the villages is coloured by lemons (lemónia), bitter oranges (nerántzia), bergamots (pergamóta), grapefruits (frápes), tangerines (mantarínia) and oranges (portokália).
The main dried fruits the main ones include: raisins (stafída), exported for centuries all over Greece from Kefalonia and still produced in a small percentage. The raisins used in the preparation of sweets and breads such as bread with raisins (stafidopsomo). Almonds (amýgdala) and walnuts (karýdia) are two important ingredients in the Kefalonian patisserie (as described on the sweets page), and dried figs (apoxiraména sýka) which were the candies of the farmers when they had to work all day long in the countryside. The figs are usually dried with an almond as a surprise inside (I spoiled it)!