April is here! The days are now officially longer (thank you daylight savings), and the weather is warm and sunny. This month we are getting ready for Greek Easter. Over the next few weeks, we will share with you traditional Greek recipes. We invite you to join us, cook with us and celebrate Greek Easter.

Easter Sunday is a day of celebration. Families and friends gather around the table, eating lamb, traditionally roasted on a spit. There are eggs died with red dye (watch this space for a how-to!). There’s also this lettuce and dill salad. Lettuce is in season in spring, and alongside dill make for a very refreshing side dish. Lots of vinegar and spring onions make this salad the perfect pairing to lamb. In my family we never add salt to the Easter salad, and we make it quite vinegary. You can add salt and reduce the vinegar to 1.5 tbsps if you prefer.

Serves 6

1 very large lettuce or 2 medium ones
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 large bunch of dill
6 spring onions
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp sweet wine vinegar
salt (optional, to taste)

Finely cut the lettuce and add it in a bowl with cold water and ½ cup of red wine vinegar. This will both clean the lettuce, and according to some will add some more acidity to the salad. Drain well.

Place the lettuce in a large bowl.

Finely slice the spring onions and finely chop the dill. Add to your bowl.

Add the olive oil and vinegar, season with salt (if using) and mix everything together.

Serve with more vinegar and olive oil if desired.

The 25th of March is the Greek Independence day, coinciding with the Feast of the Annunciation. Independence day celebrates the Greek War of Independence (1821–1829) and the liberation of Greece from the Ottoman occupation. The Feast of the Annunciation commemorates the visit of archangel Gabriel to Virgin Mary, informing her that she would be the mother of the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

When it comes to food, the 25th of March falls within the 40-day period of strict fasting before Easter, when Greeks are invited to abstain from all animal flesh. But given the celebratory character of the day, consuming fish is allowed. The traditional dish of the day – with several regional variations – is salted codfish, battered and deep fried, and served with skordalia.

As we’ve written before, skordalia is a traditional Greek dip, made with raw garlic, “skordo” as is its name in Greek. It is usually made with potato, or bread, and occasionally nuts are added. Today we have the classic recipe for you, made with potato. It is by Katerina, Nafsika’s mother.

Serves 6-8 as a dip

600g potatoes (2-3 large)
150ml olive oil, plus more to serve
6-8 cloves of garlic (to taste)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
salt, pepper (to taste)

Place the potatoes in a large pot with plenty of cold water. Bring to the boil and cook until tender, around 40min. Drain and while the potatoes are still hot, peel off their skin. Let them cool down. Crumble into large pieces.

In a food processor (or using a pestle and mortar) blend together the olive oil and garlic. Slowly add the potatoes and blend everything together until you have a smooth mixture.

Transfer to a bowl, season with salt and pepper and add the vinegar. Taste and adjust for seasoning/vinegar. Serve drizzled with more olive oil.

By next week, spring will be here. Spring solstice is on the 21st and already we feel the days becoming longer and the weather milder. Flowers are timidly appearing in parks and green is the colour all around us.

Green leafy vegetables of all sorts have always been the food that makes us feel healthy and strong. So as we say goodbye to winter and welcome spring, this week we are making a classic greek dish: hortosoupa. Literally meaning “soup with greens”, it is a much loved Greek dish. There are many ways to make hortosoupa and today’s recipe is inspired by the food writers of the Greek magazine Gastronomos who use trahana to add some texture in this soup. You can omit trahana if you prefer to keep this vegan.

Traditionally, hortosoupa is prepared with wild greens, which are in abundance in Greek farmers markets this time of the year. We also used bunches of chervil and Mediterranean hartwort. But worry not, you can use any leafy greens and herbs you have in hand. My mother makes hortosoupa with spinach, and also adds any leftover vegetables we may have around: potatoes, carrots. My best friend uses kale and a wide selection of herbs: parsley, dill, watercress, celery leaves. You get the idea. Chard works well, collard greens, arugula, and of course, spinach and kale, parsley and dill.

Don’t forget to check our all of our spring recipes!

Serves 6
4 tbsp olive oil, plus more to serve
4 spring onions
500g wild greens (hórta), or other leafy greens
2 large bunches of herbs (we used chervil and Mediterranean hartwort)
1200ml water or stock
150g trahana (sweet or sour)
salt (to taste)

Finely chop the spring onions, using both the white and green part.

In a large pot and over medium heat place the olive oil and the spring onions and cook until soft but not caramelised.

Roughly chop the greens and herbs and add them to the pot. Stir, until the greens are wilted, around 5 minutes.

Add the trahana and water or stock and stir everything together. Season with salt.

Bring to a boil and then cover, lower the heat and cook for 30 minutes, until trahana is tender.

Blend the soup to get a smooth texture and serve with more olive oil.

Today is Clean Monday in Greece! Clean Monday marks the beginning of Lent. As such, foods eaten on this day prepare us for the 40-day fast which follows. Taramosalata is traditionally eaten, along with fava, fresh salads, the few amongst other classic dishes, which of course include halva.

We also eat lagana, a bread especially made for the day. It is a flat, oval bread, sprinkled with lots of sesame, usually made with flour and yeast or sourdough starter. Today we have a very interesting version of this recipe. We are making a lagana with no yeast and with tahini. The recipe comes from the monks in the monastery of St Nectarios in Phocis, in central Greece and appeared in Gastronomos magazine. As we read, yeast and sourdough symbolise rebirth and reproduction, so in some monasteries these are omitted during Lent. Expect something that resembles a flatbread, but quite dense and wholesome with the addition of tahini.

300g all-purpose flour
200ml lukewarm water
1 tsp salt
2 tsp tahini
50g sesame, plus more for sprinkling

In a large bowl place the tahini and water and whisk together. Add the salt, sesame and flour and knead for a few minutes until you have an elastic dough.

Roll it out in an oval shape, around 5-7mm high and transfer to a baking tray covered with greaseproof paper. Place it somewhere warm and let it rest for a few hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven at 190C. Sprinkle the lagane with water and sesame and cook for 40 minutes until golden.

Serve with plenty of taramosalata and fava!

This month, we begin Lent with taramosalata, as we give a warm embrace to the women who have guided us into becoming who we are. We also cook for Ukraine.

There is always great complexity in the making of any nation and its identity, and we will always be compassionate to others. People carry their own histories and stories and we must respect and care for all. But one thing is clear: we stand against warfare.

We support Alissa Timoshkina and Olia Hercules in #CookForUkraine with a recipe that felt close to our hearts. This split pea & bread soup (kuleshnyk) is adapted from Olia’s book “Summer Kitchens: Recipes and reminiscences from every corner of Ukraine”. We loved adding more olive oil and swapping the bread with dakos rusks. We hope you enjoy making it and find solace in its comforting smell.

This hearty stew, which we shared with our loved ones, is a reminder that living in peace is something to be celebrated. So join us as we cook together, get involved in ways that feel close to our hearts, and hope for freedom, justice, democracy and peace in the world around us. Read more in this week’s newsletter and follow this link to learn more about Cook For Ukraine and how to donate.

Serves 4-6

2 medium onions
1 large carrot
1 large parsnip
4 cloves of garlic
2tbsp olive oil, plus more for serving
2tbsp tomato paste
Dried thyme (to taste)
200g fava (split yellow peas)
100g dakos rusks
Dried oregano (to serve)

Peel and dice the onions, carrot and parsnips. Finely slice the garlic. In a medium-sized saucepan and over medium heat add the olive oil and your vegetables, but not the garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook until tender and caramelised, around 20 minutes. Add a splash of water if needed.

Once your vegetables are caramelised, add the garlic and cook for two-three minutes. Add the tomato paste and thyme, and cook for 5 more minutes. Add the fava and 2lt of water. Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, until the fava is cooked and the vegetables are tender, for an hour or so.

Crush the dakos rusks and add them to your pot. Cook for 5 more minutes. Serve with oregano and plenty of olive oil.