Moussaka is one of the most popular and most loved Greek dishes. It takes a while to make, so think of it as a weekend project. But the result will not disappoint. Layers of mellow vegetables are followed by a layer of beef mince, then more vegetables and finally a smooth béchamel sauce. It is a quintessentially summer dish, as aubergines and courgettes, they key ingredients, are in season – and at their best- then.

Following our delicious Olive Oil Mythologies dinner a few weeks ago, this is the recipe for moussaka, which we served as a main course. It is by Katerina, Nafsika’s mother. We have planned many more amazing dinner experiences after the summer, so watch this space for our autumn events!

This recipe serves 16, as in Greece we always make large quantities of moussaka. It freezes well if you want to make two trays. Simply place in the freezer before the final step of baking. You can also half the recipe, if you prefer.

Final advice: moussaka needs to rest after baking. So estimate at least 45 minutes of resting time before diving in. Trust us, the result is worth it!

Serves 16

Mince meat
2 medium red onions (approx. 300g)
6 tbsp olive oil
1kg beef mince, lean
1 cup water
2 tsp tomato puree
½ tsp sugar (optional)
1.5 bottles tomato passata (or 5 juicy tomatoes)
½ tsp cinnamon
salt, pepper (to taste)

Finely chop or grate the onions. In a medium-sized heavy bottomed pot add the olive oil and onions. Gently fry over medium heat until transluscent but not caramelised.
Add the mince and stir well, until the mince is broken down and has browned.
Add one cup of water and cook until the mince is tender, around 15minutes.
In a cup with warm water stir in the tomato puree and sugar until the sugar dissolves.
Add it to your pot, along with the tomato passata and stir well.
Season with cinnamon, salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the mince is tender and the sauce thickens, around 30-45 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Vegetables
2kg aubergines
1kg courgettes
1kg potatoes
1.5 cups olive oil
salt, pepper (to taste)

Preheat the oven at 180C.
Slice all the vegetables into 5mm / ½ cm slices.
Lay the vegetables in trays and brush the one side with olive oil.
Season with salt and pepper.
Bake at 180C until the vegetables are soft, around 20min.
Half-way through turn them over and brush the other side with olive oil, seasoning with salt and pepper.
Set aside to cool.

Béchamel sauce
225g butter
225g flour
3lt milk
10 eggs
750g kefalotyri cheese

In a medium-sized heavy bottomed pot and over low heat add the flour and butter. Whisk together until golden. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens. You can test by covering the back of a spoon with the sauce, and running your finger through it. The line should remain clear. Remove from the heat and whisk in the nutmeg, salt, pepper, eggs and cheese. Set aside, covering tight with cling film. The cling film should touch the surface of the sauce.

Assembling
Preheat the oven at 180C.
Brush the bottom of a large baking tray with a bit of olive oil (2 tbsp). Layer half the aubergines, followed by courgettes and potatoes. Add the mince. Continue with another layer of aubergines. Top with the béchamel sauce.
Bake at 180C until the béchamel sauce is golden and the moussaka is bubbly, 20-30min.
Let the moussaka rest for at least 45 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.


This week we’ve got a family recipe for you. Every summer, my mother, along with many other Greek cooks, prepares tomato sauce, enough to last the entire winter. She uses summer tomatoes, which are particularly juicy and ripe towards the end of August in Greece.

Often unable to get my mother’s sauce in London, I started making it myself. However, as this is a sauce with very few ingredients, the quality of tomatoes is really important. When I started using our tomato passata I was amazed: the sauce tasted exactly like my mother’s. You see, our organic tomato passata is made with organic Greek tomatoes picked during the summer when they are at their best, with no added salt, as close to the flavours of nature as you can get. It’s great for any tomato-based dish (check out our recipes here), and it’s great in this family recipe.

Serves 4

3 tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion
1 bottle tomato passata
1 tsp tomato puree
½ tsp sugar (optional)
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp cinnamon
salt, pepper (to taste)

Grate or finely chop the onion. In a medium-sized pot add the olive oil and onion and gently fry over medium heat until translucent but not caramelised. Add the tomato passata.

Stir the tomato puree and sugar (if using) in a cup of warm water until dissolved. Add to your pot. Add the basil and cinnamon and season with salt and pepper. Stir well.

Bring the sauce to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens and the flavours blend together, for about an hour. Half way through taste and adjust for seasonings, adding more basil, cinnamon, salt and pepper if needed.

Serve with pasta or rice, use on top of bruschetta, or even as a dipping sauce.


This week we have a very hearty recipe for you. Lentils and tomatoes are an all-time favourite and we couldn’t but pair them together in this simple, yet very comforting dish.

We are after all getting ready for summer, eagerly waiting for the first juicy summer tomatoes to appear in the market. So in this recipe, adapted from Jack Santa Maria’s cookery book Greek Vegetarian Cooking, we are using the vibrant red organic tomato passata to make a delicious lentil stew. It makes for an excellent dinner, served alongside brown rice. But also, it works great as a more filling pasta sauce. Don’t forget to check out all of our recipes with tomato passata.

Serves 2 as main

1 medium red onion
1 clove of garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1 bottle tomato passata (or 2-3 juicy tomatoes, crushed)
500ml water (plus more if needed)
150ml red wine (we used the Barafakas Idea Red)
100g lentils
dried thyme (to taste)
dried oregano (to taste)
salt, pepper (to taste)
brown rice and fresh tomatoes (to serve)

Grate or finely chop your onion and garlic. In a medium-sized pot add the olive oil, onion and garlic. Gently fry over medium heat until translucent but not caramelised.

Add the tomato passata, water, wine and lentils and stir everything together. Add the thyme and oregano and season with salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil then lower the heat and cook, covered, until the sauce is thickened and the lentils are tender, around 45minutes. Half-way through taste and adjust for dried herbs and seasoning.

Serve with brown rice and fresh tomatoes (if desired).


All of us at Oliveology love cooking with seasonal produce. Every week, we walk around the market and find the fruits and vegetables which provide the inspiration for our recipes. This week our inspiration came from fresh broad beans. These lovely green beans, belonging in the  Fabaceae family are also called fava beans. However, they are not to be confused with fava (aka yellow split peas). They are in season in May in Greece, and in June they will be arriving in London. So let’s prepare!

In this very easy recipe, we slowly cooked fresh broad beans in extra virgin olive oil and served this vibrant dish with plenty of lemon and our 17C olive oil with with lemons, oranges & thyme. This recipe uses the entire pod, so do select broad beans that are young and tender. If you can’t find fresh broad beans, you can use green beans, or even peas in this recipe. Don’t forget to check out our spring recipes, especially these lemony peas.

Serves 2 with leftovers

1kg fresh broad beans
1 leek
2 spring onions
2 tbsp olive oil
500-750ml water
salt, pepper (to taste)
lemon juice, 17C olive oil (to serve)

In this recipe, we are cooking the broad beans whole. To prepare them simply trim the top and bottom and cut each bean in half, so that you have finger-sized beans.

Finely chop the leek and spring onions.

In a large heavy bottomed pot and over medium heat add the olive oil, leek and spring onions. Gently fry until translucent but not caramelised. Add the broad beans and 500ml of water. Season with salt and pepper and gently stir everything together.

Bring to the boil, then lower the heat, cover and let the broad beans cook until tender, for 30-40min, adding a bit more water if needed.

Serve with plenty of lemon juice and our 17C olive oil.

 

 


Spring is in full swing and we’ve got a lovely spring recipe for you. Inspired by the produce we find at the market, this week we’re kicking off May with a vibrant recipe.

As you may know, Greeks love to slowly cook vegetables in olive oil. Rice is often added, as in the very seasonal Spinach & Rice Stew (Spanakorizo), or in the winter Cabbage, Carrot & Rice Stew (Lahanorizo). As leeks are a favourite spring ingredient, this week we’re making a Leek & Rice Stew (Prasorizo).

We serve this vibrant dish with plenty of lemon juice and our favourite flavoured olive oil, the 17C. This is a limited production oil made from unripe olives, crushed with fresh lemons, oranges and thyme. Our special recipe imparts an exquisite citrus twist to this premium olive oil. This oil has a beautiful golden colour and smooth, rich, buttery texture. The aromas of lemon and orange along with the presence of thyme make it a well-balanced olive oil, a perfect accompaniment to spring and summer vegetables and white fish.

Serves 2

4 leeks
2 cloves fresh garlic (or one clove of garlic)
2 tbsp olive oil
½ cup white wine (we used Malagousia)
100g Carolina rice, rinced until the water is clear
Salt, pepper, dried thyme (to taste)
17C Olive Oil with Lemons, Oranges and Thyme (to serve)
Lemon wedges (to serve)

Cut the leeks in large bite-size pieces. Rinse them with plenty of water. Let them dry.

In a shallow casserole and over medium heat add the olive oil and leeks. Cook from all sides until tender, around 5-7 minutes. If you like, you can leave them a bit longer to char. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the wine and let it reduce. Add the rice and 650ml water and gently stir everything together. Season with salt, pepper and thyme.

Bring the water to a boil and then cover your casserole, lower the heat and simmer until the leeks are tender and the rice is cooked, around 20-30 minutes.

Serve with plenty of lemon and our flavoured 17C olive oil.