Did you know that chickpeas are one of the earliest known cultivated legumes, tracing their ancestry back at least 7,000 years to the dawn of agriculture?

The Greeks seem to have quite a passionate and long-lasting love affair with the bean, as chickpeas have been found at Thessaly in the late Neolithic (about 3500 BC) Greece. It is also known that the ancient Greek philosophers Plato and Socrates made reference to the nutritional value of hummus in their writings. The humble legume, together with wheat, a variety of beans, lentils, chickpeas and split peas, “form the very foundation of the Greek diet and have done so since Neolithic times” according to Diana Farr Louis of Culinary Backstreets.

Health wise, chickpeas are an excellent source of high-quality protein, with a wide range of essential amino acids. Like most legumes have long been valued for their fibre content; in this case, between 65-75% of the fibre found in chickpeas is insoluble*. Chickpeas are a source of 10 different vitamins and essential minerals, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, copper, potassium and manganese.

Lately, it’s all about aquafava, that some go as far as saying that it actually is the new kale. This chickpea brine makes baking, cooking and cocktails without eggs much easier for vegans, those with allergies or looking for lighter options. This will be the subject of a future post however, in the meantime let’s enjoy this easy and nutritious recipe.

Chickpeas with spinach

Ingredients

300g chickpeas
1 kg spinach
1 onion (you could also add a couple of garlic gloves, if desired)
3 grated tomatoes
½ cup of extra virgin olive oil – we recommend using our 27oC evoo
Salt, pepper, oregano (you could also add cumin and paprika, if desired)

Method

Initially, soak them overnight in a bowl of water and drain them the next day. In a pot heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté onion (and garlic) until soft. Add chickpeas, tomato and water to cover and cook until chickpeas are almost cooked. Wash and chop spinach and stir in the mix. Cook until wilted and bright green. Finally add salt, pepper, oregano and simmer for a further 10-15 minutes. It goes without saying that feta goes perfectly with this dish. Of course, try it with our raw Kalamata olives; we would recommend our wild green lemony ones or those with lemon and herbs

You can find Greek chickpeas in our new shop at Borough Market, along with a great variety of pulses, such as lentils, giant beans and fava split yellow peas. Soon all available online.

Insoluble fibre is found in foods such as wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains. It adds bulk to the stool and appears to help food pass more quickly through the stomach and intestines.


Σπανακορυζο (Spanakorizo) is an old time classic Greek-style spinach risotto. This nourishing dish has excellent health benefits, just on time for Lent.

Bright, vibrant looking, fresh spinach can be found in food markets across Greece, as well as the UK, this time of the year. It is packed with iron and is advised especially for vegetarians, those who experience iron-deficiency anaemia, pregnant women or those abstaining from meat during Lent. In addition, if you combine iron with vitamin C, you’re boosting your body with more energy. Apart from spanakorizo with lemon, you could also have an energy boost when pairing spinach salad with orange slices, bean burrito with salsa and oatmeal with strawberries.

It also has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancerous properties and its properties are especially important for healthy eye-sight. As a nutritional powerhouse, it also is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C and folic acid as well as a good source of manganese, magnesium and vitamin
B2. Enjoy spinach raw in salads, roasted (8-10 minutes), slice and stir fried (1-2 minutes) or steamed whole (3-4 minutes).

Serves 4
Preparation: 10’ Cooking: 25’

Ingredients
• 1 kilo roughly chopped fresh spinach -alternatively frozen
• 1 leek finely chopped
• 1 onion
• A bunch of spring onions
• 1 grated tomato
• Juice from a lemon
• ¾ cup of evoo –we recommend using our 22°C
• ¾ cup Karolina rice -could also work with Arborio/ brown rice
• 1 bunch of dill roughly chopped
• Freshly ground salt and pepper
Initially, chop spinach in chunks. In a wide pot heat the olive oil over medium heat olive oil and sauté the onion, the spring onion and the leek for a few minutes until soften. Afterwards, add spinach, grated tomato and rice. Stir in the ingredients until soften. Put in two glasses of water. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20-25 minutes, until the rice is tender. During cooking, stir the mix once in a while and check if it appears to be getting dry. Pour in some more hot water, if needed. Finally add salt, pepper and dill. Squeeze the lemon. Mix and serve. It goes without saying that feta goes perfectly with this dish. Of course, try it with our raw Kalamata olives; we would recommend our wild green lemony ones or those with lemon and herbs.


Mandarins are much loved from chefs and bakers around the world, for their wonderful essential oil. Following Greek chef’s Evie Voutsina tip -this time of the year that they are at their best- you can grate their skin, store it in the fridge wrapped in cling film and use it throughout the year in various cakes, sauces, breads etc. This risotto is the perfect first course during winter time; it can also work as a side dish for a simple roast chicken and sautéed spinach or as a main dish with a green salad. Let us know how you found this tangy, fruity, colourful, silky dish.

Serves 4-6 persons

Preparation: 25’ Cooking: 15’ approximately

Ingredients

300 g butternut squash (without the skin)

1 almost ripe quince

1 big red onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 glass of white wine

½ cup evoo 22°C

80 g almonds toasted and chopped

4 table spoons of black Corinth raisins

skin from½ mandarin (ideally organic) and a bit more for decoration (if desired)

2 table spoons of parsley finely chopped

sea-salt and freshly ground pepper

400 g/ 2 tea cups of (risotto) rice Carolina or Arborio

5 ½ cups of boiled water

Cut the squash as well as the quince in small cubes. With a spoon grate the inside of the mandarin skin; cut the skin in strips and reserve them in a small bowl. In a heavy skillet or large pan, heat the olive oil over moderately high heat and sauté the onion a few minutes until softened transparent. Afterwards, put in the rice, the butternut squash and the quince along with the garlic and stir for 2-3 minutes. All the rice grains should be well coated with olive oil and opaque. Season the mix with salt and pepper and add the white wine stirring constantly until it is completely absorbed. Put in the raisins as well as the clementine skin stripes.

At this point, begin pouring in the water, about½ cup at a time, stirring and letting each addition absorb before adding more. As the rice begins to swell and after about half of the water has been added, taste for doneness. The rice should be al dente. Continue adding water as necessary. Depending on the desired texture you may mix it at a slow or quick pace. When it’s almost ready, check the seasoning and as a final touch add the parsley and the almonds. Stir and remove it from the fire. Serve immediately, garnishing each plate with clementine sections.

Tip: You could alternatively roast the butternut squash as well as the quince first -with their skins- and when they’re ready you only need to flesh them out and add them to the risotto. It might seem like an extra step in the cooking process, but actually makes it easier.

* Inspired by Voutsina E. (2009, January), Mandarin: fragrant and noble, Gastronomos, 87.

By Lida Papamatthaiaki


A creative recipe by Jackie. Enjoy!

Figs and olives are well on their way in, cherries are on their way out.
Here is something to mark the transitional period between the seasons- a bit savoury, a bit sweet…about as classifiable as the weather.

Olive, cherry, fig samosas with rosemary syrup

• I find it easiest to fold these pastries into triangular shapes, hence the term “samosa”, but there is no reason you cannot make them in different shape. Filo pastry is wonderfully forgiving.
• The recipe is meant to be a guideline, as are most of the recipes created for oliveology. Create! Be inspired by the best produce you can find.

Continue reading →


Let me introduce it to you

You may find it with different names: Sesame seed candy/ bar/crunch, sesame nougat or παστέλι in Greek and different textures, from chewy to crisp. Usually consists of sesame seeds, sugar or honey (but ours are made with sesame and honey, only) and sometimes contains various nuts.

Let me deconstruct it for you 

I am pretty sure you’re familiar with the health benefits of honey; as an anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal substance and an energy resource, of course. Sesame’s nutty flavour, adds texture to baked goods and ground sesame seeds make delicious spreads such as hummus, tahini and sesame butter. The seeds are a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and also a very good source of copper and manganese; very low in cholesterol and sodium; an alkaline food that supports bone and blood vessel health. They offer the most of the nutritional value when the entire seed is used (un-hulled).

Interesting facts and a famous phrase

Sesame snacks mixed with honey or syrup are favoured from the Middle East through South Asia to East Asia. Especially in the Indian cuisine, the Assamese tilor laru is a breakfast snack and the Maharashtran tilgul ladoo is associated with the festival of Mahar Sankranti. In Japanese cuisine, goma-dofu is made from sesame paste and starch.

Apparently, the famous phrase “Open Sesame” in the story of “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” in One Thousand and One Nights may be inspired by the opening of the fruit capsule, which unlocks the valuable sesame seeds.

So, what are you waiting for? Come and try our delicious snack bars with sesame and honey or sesame, honey, linseed, raisin, almond and hazelnut. When combined with a cup of our olive leaf tea or freshly brewed coffee, a smile on your face is guaranteed!