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Lake Vouliagmeni and Farfalle with aubergine, peppers and purslane pesto

Lake Vouliagmeni and Farfalle with aubergine, peppers and purslane pesto

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As much as I love cooking, there are a few days that I want to cook something quick and easy and what is easier than a pasta dish?

This week the temperature was around 40 degrees C in Athens, so every morning my husband and I leave early in the morning and go for swimming, so when we come back I prepare something easy.

Although we live in Athens for the past twenty years and I knew about Vougliagmeni Lake, which is only about 20 kilometres from where we live, we never went there for swimming.

When my sister was here visiting me in March, we went for a drive at Sounion and on our way back we stopped at the lake to take some photos and drink a cup of coffee.

I was amazed to see how many people were there swimming at that time of the year and I decided that during the summer we would go swimming there and see if we liked it.

The first time we went, early this month I got a brochure from the entrance and this is what I read about Lake:

It is a mineral spa that is reported to have many healing properties for such ailments as eczema and dermatological diseases, neuralgia, headaches, disfiguring arthritis, chronic gynaecological diseases, lumbago, sciatica and other problems.

The lake is about 50 centimetres above sea level and so it is constantly overflowing and being replenished by the hot springs beneath it. The composition of the lake is brackish and full of such minerals as potassium, natrium, lithium, ammonium, calcium, ferrum, chloride and iodine. These minerals are known for giving relief to bone and muscle problems as well as those listed above. The lake is recognized as a wonder of nature because of its unique appearance and the surroundings. Scientific research and studies have discovered that millions of years ago, where the lake is now, there was once a large cave with a large number of hot springs. Eventually the high temperature and moisture of these springs caused the roof to collapse.

The lake is surrounded by beach chairs and umbrellas and there is a cafeteria-bar-restaurant as well.

The lake is excellent for swimming for therapy as well as for pleasure and there is equipment for helping those who find it difficult or impossible to get into the water on their own.

Don’t imagine that we pass our time under the umbrellas. No. We work out for one whole hour, swimming and exercising, holding on the ropes.

The lake is full of small fish and if you stay still for more than a few seconds they come and feed on your dead cells. They don’t bite but you feel kind of ticklish. I don’t know if this is true but I’ve heard that they imported these little fish exactly for this purpose.

During the summer Lake Vouliagmeni offers hot spring baths, hydrotherapy and physiotherapy but unfortunately this year they are closed due to works for their refurbishment.

I’ve been talking with a few swimmers, trying to find out if in fact what they say is true and evidently they all have seen improvement to their health condition.

The only disadvantage is that the entrance ticket is quite expensive. It costs 8 Euros a day per person and the cafeteria is also extremely expensive e.g. 6 Euros for a glass of orange juice and 3 Euros for a Greek coffee but of course you don’t have to buy anything from the cafeteria, so we take some fresh fruit with us.

Farfalle with aubergines, peppers and purslane pesto

Preparation and cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves:  4


  • 500 grams of farfalle (bow tie pasta)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1-2 aubergines, diced
  • ½ red bell pepper, cut julienne
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 cup of leftover chicken breast or thigh (without the skin), cut into bite sizes (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Pesto (about 1/2 cup)


  1. Boil pasta in salty water for 15 minutes al dente or according to the instructions on the package.Meantime, heat the olive oil in a skillet and sauté the onion until translucent. Stir a few times to caramelize the onion but not to brown.
  2. Add the aubergine and sauté as well, stirring until it is soft.
  3. Add the red bell pepper and just mix with the other ingredients a few times.
  4. Finally add the cooked chicken and mix.If the pasta is not ready (as this takes about 10 minutes to prepare the vegetables) remove from the heat and when pasta is done, drain and add it to the skillet.
  5. Place on the heat again, season with salt and pepper and put as much pesto as you like (I added about half the quantity).

I am submitting this recipe to Ruth, of Once Upon a Feast, who has created Presto Pasta Nights and who is hosting it herself this week and as this is a recipe I have concocted (this is a new word I learned from Lore and I hope I am using it correctly), I am sending this recipe also to Lore’s Original Recipes.

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