A courgette crowd-pleaser

This month’s recipe is sent from Kytheria, the mythological birthplace of Aphrodite the goddess of love. There are no guarantees of magical powers if you make this dish but the recipe will use up your courgette glut if you have one.

Kytheria sits at the bottom of the Peloponnese surrounded by the Ionian, Aegean and Cretan seas; it’s a six-and-a-half hour ferry ride from Athens in the opposite direction to the Cyclades. The port at Diakofta is very small with golden sands, a taverna, a beach bar and a minimarket. The highlight of the week is the ferry dashing in and out, which cranks the action up a gear. The quay is home to little fishing boats, which supply the freshest of fish that practically leap from the boat into the taverna kitchen. The grilled sardines are perfect, served with a squeeze of lemon, nothing else needed. 

There are only 3000 permanent residents on this beautiful island, which is surrounded by crystal clear waters. The landscape is green with carpets of wild sage, fennel and flowering thyme, which gives a purple blush to the hills and a wonderful smell when we tromp through them. You can stand and inhale the aromas. The paths climb and fall, deep gorges lead down through abandoned settlements to hidden beaches. There are olive groves, waterfalls, figs aplenty, and trees dripping with ripening apricots. 

There isn’t any public transport as the population is so scattered but there are lots of old donkey paths and walking trails. The major road, marked in red on the map, runs from the port then up and down the island. It is no bigger than the road from Timoleague to Clonakilty.

Life is slow, there’s no rush to go anywhere.

It’s courgette season now and on small islands like this what’s ripe is what is on the menu. We’ve eaten plenty of courgette salads, courgette fritters and whole roasted courgettes with lemon sauce. There’s also Briam, a tomato and courgette bake

Before we travelled here we spent a week cooking on Syros, with ten intrepid cooking enthusiasts who travelled from Cork to join us. Briam is one of the recipes we shared, it’s a great recipe, something between a casserole and a traybake. It’s easy to make, will feed a crowd and will happily rest until you’re ready to sit down and eat.

Briam Courgette and Potato bake


•500g courgettes

•600g potatoes

•1 red onion

•4 cloves garlic

•Handful chopped parsley

•100-150mls olive oil

•1-2 tsp oregano

•Salt and pepper

•750g ripe tomatoes or 2 cans


Peel and finely slice the potatoes, the courgettes and the red onion.

Peel and finely chop the garlic.

Put the potatoes, courgettes, onion, garlic, chopped parsley and oregano into a big bowl. Generously drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss everything together until well mixed.

Chop the tomatoes then put two thirds into the bottom of an oven proof pan, a large gratin dish or oven tray with deep sides. Gather the vegetables in your hand then stack  in concentric circles if you’re using a round dish or lines if rectangular then sprinkle the remaining tomatoes on top. 

Cover the dish/pan with aluminium foil but don’t allow it to touch the vegetables. You might have to make a mini tent.

Bake for 40 minutes then remove the foil and bake for 30 mins more.

Take the dish out of the oven and allow to rest for at least ten minutes before serving.

Sunny greetings


Lettercollum Kitchen Project,





Karen Austin

Karen Austin is the co-owner of the Lettercollum Kitchen Project in Clonakilty.

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