Giahni is a traditional Greek way of cooking, loved by most Greeks. In giahni, seasonal vegetables are slowly cooked in olive oil and lemon or tomato. The result is a comforting, mellow dish so versatile that can be served as a main or side, and eaten hot, at room temperature or cold.

For these tomato-based dishes, some use crushed tomatoes or tomato passata, others use tomato puree diluted in water, or both. We’re using both. The passata offers a lush sauce, while the paste adds depth to this dish. Today we are making potatoes, patates giahni, as it’s called. This recipe is said to have been popular amongst the monks in the Greek church. In our adaptation of the classic recipe, we added a little honey to balance the natural acidity of the tomatoes. And we are very keen to try molasses next time!

Check out our other traditional Greek recipes in this blog, and let’s get cooking!

Serves 2 as a side

2 potatoes (500g)
1 large onion (or 2 medium)
8 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic
1 tomato passata (680ml) or 3-4 tomatoes, crushed
1 tsp tomato puree in 200ml 1 cup warm water
1 tsp honey (we used wild thyme honey)
2 bay leaves
a few pinches of cinnamon
salt, pepper

Peel and cut the potatoes in big wedges and place in a bowl with cold water.
Cut the onion in half moons and finely slice the garlic.

Place 4 tbsp of olive oil in a deep frying pan or wide casserole over medium-low heat. Once the olive oil warms up, add the onions and cook until golden and caramelised, around 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Drain the potatoes and pat dry. Add the potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes until they are covered in oil.

In a large mug add the warm water, tomato paste and honey. Stir well until the tomato paste dissolves.

Return to your pan and add the tomato passata, water with tomato paste, bay leaves and the remaining olive oil. Season with cinnamon, salt and pepper and gently stir everything together. The potatoes should be just covered. Add more water if needed.

Cover and cook for half an hour, shaking the pan so that the potatoes don’t stick at the bottom. Lower the heat to medium, uncover and cook for another half an hour, until the potatoes are tender and the tomato is thickened.

Serve with more olive oil and feta cheese.


This week we’ve got a wonderful summer recipe for you!

The simplest version of the classic recipe calls for okra, olive oil, onions and tomatoes. As with most traditional Greek recipes, there are endless variations. For instance, my mother simply adds a bit of cinnamon and sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes. Others add a shot of vinegar. No matter the recipe, feta cheese is always served on the side. Here, we took inspiration from the past and created a wholesome dish that is sure to become a summer staple.

For this recipe you can use fresh or frozen okra. Just make sure to be very gentle when you stir your okra, otherwise it will break down. We’ve used our small sun-dried tomatoes, aged balsamic vinegar and orange-blossom honey to add aromas and depth to our tomatoes. We are also baking the okra in the oven, adding cheese – manouri and feta cheese! Of course, feel free to omit the cheese if you are vegan.

Serves 2 with leftovers

425g okra
1 large onion
1 bottle tomato passata or 3-4 tomatoes crushed
30g sun-dried tomatoes (reserve the oil to use in salads or dressings)
1tbsp tomato paste, mixed with ½ cup 100ml warm water
½ cup (100ml) olive oil
1 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp honey (we used orange blossom honey)
salt, pepper
cinnamon (optional)
100g feta cheese
100g manouri cheese (at our shop Borough Market or Spa Terminus)

Preheat the oven at 180C.

Cut the onion in half-moons and place in a medium-sized baking tray. Add the okra, tomato passata, sun-dried tomatoes and gently stir everything together.

In a large mug add the tomato paste and warm water, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey and gently stir everything together, until the paste has dissolved.

Add to your tray with the okra, season with salt, pepper and cinnamon (if using). Stir everything together.

Bake at 180C for one hour, stirring every 20 minutes or so. You can leave it for longer, up to two hours, if you want your okra mellow and very soft.

Cut the cheeses into cubes and once the okra is cooked, add the cheeses and cook for another 10 minutes.

Serve with crusty bread – I personally prefer okra at room temperature, but hot or cold actually works wonders with this dish!

 


This week we’re continuing our discovery of traditional Greek recipes and have prepared a hearty, summery bean soup for you. Fasolada, as bean soup is called in Greek, is a dish eaten throughout the year, but mostly in the winter. Beans are cooked with tomato, water, and vegetables such as onions, carrots and celery leaves. Bay leaf is a must here.

This recipe, adapted from my favourite 1989 recipe calendar is the summer version of this dish and comes from the island of Crete. It uses seasonal vegetables such as peppers which are found in abundance in farmers’ markets this time of the year.

We used our small white beans, which are harvested every year in organic farms in northern Greece. You can also use gigantes beans, or any other bean you prefer. In this recipe, we’ve used a very unique ingredient. Carob molasses! Made from 100% Cretan carob pods, it is cold-extracted and with no added sugar. It has a mild, sweet taste which adds sweetness and depth to our soup.

Serves 2 with leftovers

130g small beans
1 medium red onion
5 cups of water
2 carrots
1 stick of celery
2 large peppers
400ml tomato passata or 2 large tomatoes crushed
salt, pepper
1 tbsp carob molasses
½ cup olive oil
Dakos carob rusks and feta cheese (to serve)

The night before soak your beans in cold water. The morning after drain the beans and place them in a heavy-bottomed pot or casserole with 5 cups of water. Finely chop the onion and add it to your pot. Bring to the boil and then lower the heat to medium-high, cover and let your beans cook for half an hour.

As your beans are cooking prepare your vegetables: Peel and slice the carrots. Slice the celery, and cut the peppers in bite-sized pieces. Add the vegetables in the bean pot, along with the tomato passata. Season with salt and let the soup cook over medium heat, covered, for an hour or so, until the beans are tender.

When your beans are cooked, add the carob molasses and olive oil. Taste and adjust for seasoning and let it cook for another 5-10 minutes.

Serve with Dakos carob rusks and feta cheese.

This soup is perfect eaten hot, but also at room temperature if you prefer.


This week we’ve got a diffrent kind of Greek pie for you. As you know we love pies, and traditional Greek recipes! This recipe comes from the region of Thessaly, in mainland Greece, an area with vast valleys and mountains. It is sometimes called the “easy” spanakopita, or hortopita (wild greens pie) as it’s basically a spinach or wild greens pie, but without the classic filo.

As with most traditional Greek recipes, there are as many recipes out there as there are cooks. When researching for this blog post, I discovered lovely stories of “this is how my grandmother used to make it”, tips on how to achieve the best texture and so forth.

In this pie, the filling is the same as that of the spanakopita, with spring onions, onions, and/or leeks, spinach and feta cheese. Many also use wild greens instead of spinach, as in the classic Hortopita (wild greens pie). However here, all vegetables are added raw. Our alliums were not that tender, so we gently fried them for a bit, diverging from the classic recipe.

Instead of the labour-intense filo, the cooks prepare a mixture of cornmeal, olive oil, and some liquid, placed on top and at the bottom of the filling. Some use water (and omit the feta cheese if the pie is to be consumed during Lent). Others use milk instead of water, kefir, or yoghurt mixed with water. Some put little pieces of butter on top of the pie before placing it in the over, but olive oil is also preferred.

In our version of plastos, we went for our beloved olive oil instead of butter, and used vegetable stock for the cornmeal, as we feel it offers a delicate, light texture. We also love equal parts of filling/filo, but if you prefer more filling, just use a bit less of the cornmeal / water mixture. Feel free to experiment and create your own version of this wonderful pie!

Serves 10

4 spring onions
1 medium leek
2tbsp olive oil
500g spinach or seasonal greens
1 large bunch of dill
250g feta cheese
600g cornmeal
100ml olive oil, plus more for greasing the pan and drizzling over the pie
500ml+100ml water, vegetable stock or other liquid

Preheat your oven at 200C.

Place your spinach in a large bowl, season generously with salt and massage the leaves for 2-3 minutes. Their volume should reduce in half. Set aside in a colander, as you prepare the rest of the filling.

Finely slice the spring onions and leeks. Place them in a frying pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and gently fry until tender but not caramelised. Let cool.

Finely chop the dill.

In a large bowl add the spinach, spring onions and leeks, dill, and crumble the feta cheese.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the cornmeal with the 500ml of vegetable stock (or other liquid you are using). Season generously with salt. You should have a thick mixture, resembling a slightly looser cookie dough.

Grease a 30cm baking pan with olive oil. Place half of your cornmeal mixture and spread it so that the bottom of the pan is covered. Place your spinach filling on top.

Add the 100ml of vegetable stock (or other liquid) to the remaining cornmeal mixture to dilute it, so that it resembles a loose cake batter. Pour it on top of your spinach filling. Drizzle plenty of olive oil on top.

Bake at 200C for 50min-1 hour on the bottom rack of your oven, until golden. Serve with Greek yoghurt of more feta cheese.