Well, after a weekend of snow here in London, we might have been a bit hasty celebrating spring last time. But the sun is shining again, so let’s just wait a bit and see, maybe it’s finally here!

This week we’ve got a salad for you. I’m not sure recipes like the one below should be called salads (remember, we’ve had this discussion when we made our pasta salad last spring). But anyhow, these are dishes that feel healthy, are eaten without making you want to fall sleep after and give you energy to get through the day. Just like salads. Yet more filling.

The writer of this blog post grew up hating our main ingredient, gigantes beans, cooked in the traditional fasolada (bean soup). But things change as one grows older, and often we see the same things very differently. And all of us at Oliveology love discovering new ways to cook familiar ingredients.

These beans become soft and buttery when cooked. They are, I must admit, so flavourful that they can stand on their own. However, we’ve added a few things to brighten up their smoothness. Think of roasted broccoli and green peppers, zingy lemon zest and juice and our favourite lemon and herbs kalamata olives. So let’s get started before the weather turns cold again.

1 small head of broccoli
1 large green pepper
a few pinches of dried thyme
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
salt, pepper

100g gigantes beans
vegetable stock or herb stalks, vegetable scraps
salt, pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
zest of 1/2 lemon
½ tub lemon olives

The night before soak your beans in plenty of water.

Cut your broccoli into florets. Use the whole vegetable, just cut the stem in smaller pieces. Cut the pepper into large chunks. In a bowl toss broccoli, green pepper, thyme, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread onto a baking tray and bake at 180 for 30 min or until broccoli is charred and soft.

Place your beans in a medium sized pot, cover with new water and vegetable scraps or stock. Bring to a boil and simmer until beans are tender, around two hours. Season with salt after the beans have softened up.

Drain and let the beans cool. In a salad bowl toss together beans, broccoli, green pepper, olive oil, lemon juice and zest and lemon olives. Taste and add more salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy in the sun. Or snow, who knows anymore?


Aegean Sea in a Bottle

No other wine has ever impressed me so much at first sight. This Gavalas Santorini truly brings the Aegean Sea in a bottle. The beautiful sunshine and blue sea from Santorini can brightened up your entire day.

The island of Santorini has been long famous amongst tourists for its picturesque views. This stunning beauty also exists in its wines. As one of the 25 OPAP (Oenoi Onomasias Proelefseos Anoteras Poititas or Appellation d’Origine de Qualité Supérieure, one of the terms for the Greek PDO labelling system), Santorini produces both white and red wines in dry and sweet style.

Ancient volcano eruptions have not only created its cliffs and lagoons, but also the volcanic soil for grape vines. It is this volcanic soil that has prevented the spread of phylloxera from other parts of Europe, and thus maintained the old vines that give wine of great quality. Meanwhile, the climate in Santorini has contributed significantly to its terroir. It is normally dry and warm like what you would find in a desert during the growing season, with sweeping westerly winds. Such winds are so strong that photosynthesis of the plants can stop and consequently slows down the ripening process of the grapes. To protect the vines from the wind, vine growers here follow the tradition of cultivating the vines in wide spaces and shaping them into crown-like spirals.

Assyritko is the flagship among the grape varieties on the island, as it takes up almost 83% of all the grapes being cultured in Santorini. It is a local variety of which 99% is planted in Greece nowadays. Santorini Assyrtiko is the most famous as the special growing environment has given high levels of sugar and of acidity. This versatile variety can be made for both dry and sweet wines.

The Gavalas Santorini vintage of 2016 is a crisp and well matured dry wine. In the glass it has a clear and pale lemon and straw-like colour, indicating that the wine has started its developing stage in terms of aging. On the nose, the perfumed wine presents profound fruity aromas such as pear, lemon, pineapple and slightly banana. It is a little flinty, but will be soon covered by its dominating notes of nut and honey, which is another hint of its aging development. On the palate it is crispy and refreshing. As one of the very few white wines that contains tannins, its tannins are rather smooth and rounded. This is also a full-bodied wine, with a moderate alcohol level and a long and nutty finish.

The wine is ready to drink, best served chilled at 8-10°C, in a globe shaped glass that is usually for Burgundy red wine. Decanting is needed to soften the tannins, but it will also enhance the honey and nut flavours in the wine. This wine is perfect to pair with seafood, such as fried fishcake, crab cake, slightly smoked mackerel fillet or pan-fried scallops. It also tastes great with white meat, light cheese, and even Korean seafood pancakes. It may not be the typical wine for summer, but definitely suits the beginning of spring days in London!

 References used: Wine-searcher.com

 


Well, spring is officially here! You may be reading this on every blog post for the next month, but bare with me, I absolutely love spring. How do we know that spring is here? Well, more flowers, much more light, warmer weather and…wild garlic!

I first encountered these fascinating leaves here in London. They have a bright green colour and an intense garlic flavour. Since I discovered them at Borough Market, they mark the beginning of spring for me. And what’s more interesting is that you can find them only for a few weeks in spring. All of us at Oliveology love it when some foods appear for a very short time at the market. We always try to eat seasonally, and anticipating unique vegetables, fruit or leaves like wild garlic is quite exciting. So when Marianna brought me a bunch of these last Saturday, I knew the time for one of my favourite things (and seasons) was here.

What does one do with these aromatic leaves? Well, garlicky pesto of course! You may remember our pistachio pesto from last year, or the sun dried tomato pesto from last fall. This spring we are making wild garlic pesto!

For this recipe we used walnuts and kefalotyri cheese. As for herbs, well, even though basil is traditionally used for pesto, we went for parsley. Its hebry notes blend perfectly with the wild garlic. But also a large bunch of parsley is much more affordable than these small bunches of basil you find at London markets. Now, if you are those lucky people who have pots with herbs then feel free to use whichever combination you prefer!

For a large jar of very garlicky pesto you will need:

½ cup wild garlic leaves
2 cups parsley leaves (save the stalks for stock)
1 cup walnuts
1 cup olive oil
kefalotyri cheese (optional)

Here is what you need for the recipe

If you prefer a subtle garlic flavour, then I suggest you halve the quantity of wild garlic leaves. But you know, a very garlicky pesto is better. So, in a blender or with a pestle and mortar place the herbs and walnuts. Sure, you could toast the walnuts first. But don’t. Trust me, these walnuts can proudly stand on their own. Raw. Blend, adding slowly the extra virgin olive oil until your walnuts are crushed and combined with the herbs. Season with salt and pepper and add as much cheese as you like.


Spring is here! Well, let’s not be hasty, but it seems so. The snow that surrounded us here in London last week has now melted and the sun is shining. The first flowers appear in the green parks. We timidly stop to smell them once again.

I always think of bees when I smell flowers. Imagine living a life surrounded by aromatic flowers. But let me not get carried away, our favourite beekeeper has more to say on bees.

But bees bring us to this week’s recipe. We will make a delicious spring breakfast using bee pollen! And not only to welcome spring. As many of us at Oliveology have been ill the last few weeks, bee pollen is our go-to superfood to boost our immunity. And ideas on how to incorporate it in our lives are always welcome (let us know if you’ve got any!). Bee Pollen is a source of essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids and enzymes including iron, protein, Vitamin B1, B2 and B3. Sounds like it’s very good for our bodies.

Collected by honeybees from the forests and flora of Northern Greece, our bee pollen is carefully dried to preserve all the vital nutrients. If you’ve never tasted bee pollen you’re in for a treat! These golden granules look like small rocks. But they are powdery, creating a silky dust in your mouth. And you can read a bit more here too!

This week we are pairing bee pollen with pairs and our favourite white soft galomyzithra creamy cheese. In an open sandwitch! Talk about pumping up your morning toast! Oh and for future spring breakfasts, bee pollen is great sprinkled on Greek yogurt, porridge, cereals and salads or added in milk, juice or smoothies.

Spring bee pollen toast for two

1 large pear
2 slices of qood quality bread
60g of galomyzithra cheese
2 teaspoons of bee pollen
sage honey (optional)

Finely slice the pear. Spread the galomyzithra cheese on your bread. Place the pear slices on top. Sprinkle bee pollen. Drizzle some honey if using.


When our Lida wrote her blog post on wine and cheese pairings, we absolutely loved the combination of smoked graviera with a barrel fermented Assyrtiko or aged Xinomavro. The thought of melted smoked graviera cheese has been with us since. And although we were getting ready for spring recipes, the weather did us a favour to remain wintery for a bit longer.

So while we are enjoying the white snow in London, this week we have prepared for you a very comforting recipe. The last winter recipe probably, as we are officially into spring. It is March after all. And what better way to say goodbye to winter with our absolutely favourite cauliflower and cheese. But for this one we’ve used our smoked graviera cheese!

Made from sheep’s and goats’ milk, this cheese comes from Sfakia on the island of Crete. It is made with thyme, making it all more interesting. Herby, woody and smokey, it is the perfect cheese for this recipe. And for a barrel fermented Assyrtiko or aged Xinomavro of course.

Serves 4

1 medium cauliflower (approx. 700g net weight)
1lt whole milk
1 tsp whole peppercorns
½ bunch tarragon plus more to serve
½ tsp salt
1.5 tbsp butter
1/5 tbsp flour
100g grated smoked graviera cheese
Smoked chilli flakes (optional)
Tarragon leaves (to serve)
Olive oil  (to serve)

Cut the cauliflower into florets. Finely chop the stalks and separate the leaves. Add the cauliflower, stalks and leaves in a medium sized pot. Top up with milk. Milk should cover it completely. Add the tarragon leaves, peppercorns, salt. Slowly bring to the boil and simmer until cauliflower is cooked, but still firm when pierced with a fork. Strain and reserve the milk.You should be left with approximately 700ml milk. Discard the tarragon and peppercorns. Place the cauliflower in an oven dish in one layer. In the same pot melt the butter. Add the flour and stir until mixed. Slowly add the aromatic milk you have reserved until your béchamel is thick and coats the back of a spoon. Taste and season with salt. Add the smoked graviera and stir until melted. Pour the béchamel on the cauliflower. Sprinkle with the chilli flakes. Bake at 200C for 20-30 min. To serve drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle some tarragon leaves.