When I was a kid, every year there was a day when my mum would come to me and my little sister and give us a thin bracelet, made of red and white strings. This is ‘Martis’ (lirerally meaning March), she would say. And with that care in her voice that only mothers carry, she would add: And you should wear it, so that the sun doesn’t burn you.

As a kid, I wasn’t exactly sure how the Martis would protect me from the sun, but in my mind, this day only meant one thing: the beginning of spring, my favourite season. I knew that while wearing it, the days would get longer, the sun would shine brighter and some of my favourite foods (strawberries!) would start to appear at the markets.

Martis is part of folk tradition in Greece and the Balkans, going back for decades. The phrase my mother would use (I learned as an adult), is associated with the often unexpected changes in spring weather, a reminder that one needs to be careful this month. Its colours, red and white carry various symbolisms in different cultures across the region. The ritual of removing it is equally important in Greek tradition. Folk tales say how one has to remove it at the end of March, and hang it on a tree, so that swallows then collect it and use it to create their nests. Another tradition calls for the Martis to be removed at Easter, and to be tied on the leg of the lamb that is being cooked, burning over the open fire.

As an adult, I rarely bothered to actually take two pieces of string and create my own. So when a few years ago, working at our shop at Borough Market, Marianna came and gave us all a Martis, I was presently surprised. And immediately transported back to my childhood, remembering my excitement about spring.

We used to make this with my grandmother, Marianna told me. We would sit across from each other with long white and red strings and twist them tightly. Then we would cut it in pieces and give to the whole family. Unlike me, Marianna has been wearing the Martis every year. And every year, she gets it for all of us at Oliveology.

So this March, join us at Oliveology, in sharing your childhood memories around Martis and celebrate the beginning of spring that is finally here.

 

by Nafsika


This is a recipe unlike any others. What do we mean? Well, this is a recipe that you can make at home, when your fridge is empty. You know, those evenings when you are too tired or too lazy to go shopping, or those days that you have forgotten to do so -it has happened to us as well!

The secret here is a nicely stocked cupboard and a bit of imagination. Have a look at our bundles, get yourselves some essential cupboard items and we’ve got you sorted.

So this week, we are making lentils. We are not smoking them, but we are using two of our ingredients that will offer some smokey-ness. Smoked salt and roasted red peppers! This recipe will be amazing with some freshly squeezed lemon juice and zest, but as this is a recipe to make with an empty fridge, we are using our lemon olives instead! And of course, our chilli vinegar for some spice and kick.

Freshly cut herbs and / or caramelised onions would also work, you know, just in case you do decide to go shopping! But the recipe words perfectly as is, using just your cupboard staples.

Serves two

150g lentils
½ tbsp smoked salt, plus more to serve
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp chilli vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
150g roasted red peppers
½ pack kalamata olives with lemon and herbs
Fresh parsley or other herbs or caramelised onions (optional)

In a large pot with water, add the smoked salt and lentils. Boil until the lentils tender. Drain and place in a large bowl.

In the meantime, cut your peppers in fine strips.

Place the peppers in the bowl with the lentils. Add the olives, dried oregano, olive oil and vinegar. Toss everything together and add more salt if needed. Add herbs and caramelised onions (if using). Serve hot or at room temperature.


It was Valentine’s day yesterday and we hope you had a wonderful time with your loved ones! Did you make our Valentine’s Orzo with Black Truffle Sauce? If not, go ahead, it’s simple, delicious and between us, it doesn’t have to be Valentine’s day to enjoy something like this!

This week we have a new recipe using one of our products of the month: saffron! Remember our Saffron and Orange Chickpeas from a few weeks ago? If you haven’t used this unique ingredient before, this week’s recipe is ideal.

And I must say, do have a look at our beautiful hamper for the adventurous cook. It includes saffron amongst other intriguing ingredients that guarantee to inspire your daily cooking! Or check our gift bag with saffron and other treats!

This recipe is adapted from the Greek magazine Gastronomos, one of our favourite ones. It is on the sour side, so if you prefer your dressings sweeter don’t hesitate to add a bit of honey or grape molasses. Cooking after all is all about adapting recipes to your own unique preferences!

Serves 2

400g carrots
1 tbsp lemon
1 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 generous pinches of saffron in 1 tbsp of warm water
1 clove of garlic minced
5 tbsp olive oil
Salt

Wash, peel and cut your carrots in bite-sized pieces. Place them in a large pot with boiling, salted water and boil until tender. Remove from the pot and drain. You can skip this step if you prefer and use the carrots raw.

In the meantime, make your dressing.
In a bowl whisk together the lemon juice, orange juice, red wine vinegar, saffron in water and garlic. Slowly add the olive oil, until the mixture is emulsified. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Toss warm (or raw!) carrots and dressing together and serve immediately.


Valentine’s Day on February 14th is usually associated with romantic love. For us here at Oliveology it is indeed a day of love. Love is not only for lovers, but also for friends, family, yourself. It is also the day to indulge in the pleasures of eating-and cooking for that matter.

So this week we have prepared a recipe for you, using one of our very special ingredients! Black. Truffle. Sauce.

Our truffle sauce is made of champignon mushrooms, blended with black summer truffle, extra virgin olive oil, salt and spices. Each jar contains 10% of truffle, so the aroma is quite intense. You can use this sauce in various dishes, stir into warm pasta, add on omelettes or mix with cream for a delicious sauce. My personal favourite is simply spreading it on warm toast, with fresh herbs on top. Add a poached egg and you’ve got yourselves the most luxurious breakfast -or dinner for that matter!

But back to this week’s recipe. It is possibly the simplest way to use this delicious ingredient. Apart from simply spreading on toast, that is. You can swap orzo for rice, and if you want to complicate it a bit more, use vegetable stock instead of water. But for us, this version is ideal.

Serves two

1 medium red onion
2tbsp olive oil
150g orzo
½ jar black truffle sauce
300ml water
salt pepper
30g kefalotyri cheese, finely grated
springs of thyme (to serve)

Finely slice the onion. In a medium sized dish and over medium-high heat gently fry the onion in the olive oil until translucent and slightly caramelised. Add the orzo and stir until covered in the remaining oil and well mixed.

Add half of the truffle sauce and stir again.

Add the 300ml of water, season with salt and pepper and let it cook, half covered until orzo is al dente.

Remove from the heat, add the cheese and stir, adding a few splashes of water if needed.

Serve with the remaining black truffle sauce and fresh thyme.