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.


Baklava is one of the most-loved Greek desserts. With origins in the Ottoman cuisine, it is prepared all around Greece, Turkey, and many other countries of the Levant, the Balkans and beyond.

We’ve tasted some delicious Turkish baklava with pistachios, while in Greece walnuts are preffered. Some more ‘modern’ versions which were popular all around Athens in the 90s-2000s used hazelnuts. Diverting from traditional recipes, for us, the selection of nuts is a very personal choice, and in this recipe we’ve actually used a mixture of all three: pistachios, walnuts and hazelnuts.

When it comes to the layers of filo, there are, again endless variations. If you love a tall baklava, double the recipe, or prepare it in a smaller baking dish. In ours we used one pack of filo and a 32x26cm dish and the result was a thin baklava. Ideally a metal baking dish is preferred as the distribution of heat is optimal for the baklava. However, we tried baking ours in a classic baking dish and it worked just fine.

For the syrup, we used our wild flower honey to sweeten ours, which adds a wonderful depth of flavour. When it comes to pouring the syrup over the baked baklava, there is a great debate around the ideal temperatures. We found that cooled down syrup poured over the hot baklava, just as it comes our of the oven gives a wonderfully crispy filo.

1 pack filo (450g)
350g nuts (we used raw pistachios, walnuts and hazelnuts)
100g white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
250g clarified butter (or simply melt butter)

For the syrup
250ml water
200g white sugar
200g wild flower honey
2tbsp lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
lemon peel

Syrup: In a medium sized pot and over medium heat add the water, sugar, honey, lemon juice and peel, and cinnamon stick. Cook for 5-10 minutes. Remove the lemon peel and cinnamon stick and set aside to cool.

Preparation: Preheat your oven to 190C.

Working in batches and using a pestle and mortal or blender, grind your nuts until they resemble coarse sand. Whisk in the sugar and cinnamon and set aside in a bowl.

Place the sheets of filo on the table over a kitchen towel and cover with a damp kitchen towel.

Melt your butter and place it on the table.

Assembling: Brush the bottom and sides of your pan with butter. Place one layer of filo, trimming the ends if needed. Drizzle some butter and add another layer of filo. Repeat until you have four layers of filo at the bottom.

Sprinkle a thin layer of your nut mixture. Cover with a sheet of filo and drizzle with butter. Repeat the process with a thin layer of nuts, then filo then drizzled butter, until you are left with three sheets of filo and no nuts.

Drizzling butter in between the sheets of filo, cover the top of the baklava with the remaining three sheets. If you have any butter left then pour it over your baklava.

Using a sharp knife cut in a diamond-shaped pattern (or squares or whatever you prefer). You can place the baklava in the fridge for the butter to set if you are finding it difficult to cut.

Baking: Bake at 190C in the bottom rack of the oven for 30-40minutes, until the baklava is golden and cooked underneath as well (check by gently lifting a piece from the corner).

Remove from the oven and immediately pour over the syrup. You will hear it making a beautiful sound. The syrup might seem a lot but let it cool and it will absorb most of it.

Tip: Baklava is always better the next day, so if you can, be patient and wait at least a few hours before serving it.

 


Greek Easter is around the corner, and we are now in the final week of Lent. Beginning on Clean Monday (yes with taramosalata!), during these the 40 days prior to Easter, Greeks are invited to abstain from all animal products. Grains and pulses slowly cooked with extra virgin olive oil take centre stage and baked delicacies with tahini (like the tahinopita we made a couple of weeks ago) are prepared. Spring vegetables like peas (here with olive oil and lemon) or spinach (think of spanakopita) are everywhere, and are always part of the menu. For this final week of Lent, we’ve used one of our favourite spring ingredients, wild garlic and we’ve put together a simple yet delicious pesto recipe. As you will read, there’s plenty of garlic in this recipe, so if you want a more subtle flavour, you can substitute add some parsley instead.

For this pesto, we’ve also used our product of the month: pistachios. Greek pistachios are renowned for their unbeatable rich flavour, beautiful pink exterior, and vibrant green kernels, and these pistachios, with PDO status, are completely raw and unsalted with an exquisite taste and texture.

Makes one jar

50g raw pistachios
50g wild garlic leaves (or a mixture of wild garlic and parsley)
100ml olive oil
zest from 1 lemon
1-2tbsp lemon juice
fine sea salt (to taste)

Roughly chop the wild garlic leaves and add to a pestle and mortal or a blender. Add the pistachios, and half of the olive oil and blend everything together until chunky. Slowly add the remaining olive oil, pulsing slowly.

Add the lemon zest and juice and season with salt. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

If you have time, let this pesto rest for a few hours, so that the flavours develop. Serve with pasta, your favourite grains or roasted vegetables. Alternatively, add a tablespoon to a bowl of soup, or simply add in your salads or serve on top of toast!


In Greece, Easter is perhaps the biggest celebration of the year. Amongst the traditional mageiritsa offal soup, the tsoureki brioche bread, and of course the much loved easter lamb, Greeks also prepare Easter eggs.

Traditionally, on the Thursday before Easter, the day of the crucifixion of Christ, eggs are dyed red, the red colour symbolising the blood of Christ. Today, many dye eggs in various colours, and decorate them with stickers.

The eggs are then kept until Saturday night, and after the resurrection of Christ at midnight egg tapping takes place, or “tsouggrisma” as it’s called. This is when two eggs are tapped together, as people exchange Easter wishes.

We love this Greek tradition, so this week we’ve decided to share it with you. In the sprit of sustainable living, we are only using natural dye, which gives the eggs a lovely spring colours, as individual as nature itself. You can also use onion peels, red cabbage leaves, turmeric and lots more to dye the eggs naturally!

12 eggs
1 pack (3 sachets) natural egg dye
2.250 ml water
2 tbsp red wine vinegar

The process is very straightforward. Select good, free range or organic eggs (even if just for this Easter).

In a stainless steel pot (a casserole might stain), add three sachets of dye and the water. Stir and place over medium heat. Add the vinegar and stir again.

Gently submerge the eggs in the cold water.

Bring to a simmer, skimming any foam that might arise, and gently stirring.

Gently simmer for 20min. Remove from the pot and add the eggs in a bowl with ice cold water.

Drain and admire the beautiful colours.

Happy Easter!!


Tahinopita, literally meaning “tahini pie” is a well-loved Cypriot sweet bread/cake, traditionally eaten during Lent. Marianna, who is half Cypriot, grew up with tahinopita, be it from the neighbourhood bakery, or home-made by her mother and aunts. I, on the other hand did not, as tahinopita was not part of my culinary universe.

So when I was researching for this recipe I was, I must confess, not so enthusiastic about it. In its many versions, it read like a sweet bread with sweet tahini, which is a much loved combination, but nothing more than that.

Well. Let me tell you, I was standing in my kitchen on a Sunday afternoon, fragrant smells of cinnamon, mahleb and cloves all around me, tasting perhaps one of the most delicious baked goods I’ve ever made.

The recipe is quite straightforward. You make the dough and the filling and then put them together. There are various ways to do so, and you can have a look at this video which is quite helpful. There’s also a much simpler way, which you can find here and which we used. It is very similar to making cinnamon rolls.

We got inspired by Georgina Hayden’s recipe who uses carob molasses in the filling and we absolutely loved the idea!

For the dough
350g flour
½ tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp aromatic spices such as mahleb, mastiha, vanilla
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 sachet dried yeast (7g)
275ml lukewarm water

For the filling
200g tahini
125g white sugar
3 tbsp carob molasses
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
3 tbsp olive oil
3tbsp water

To serve
wild flower honey (optional)

Preheat the oven to 160C.

First make the dough. Add the yeast to a jug with the lukewarm water and let it stand for a couple of minutes. In a large bowl, sieve together the flour, baking soda, and all the spices. Add the yeast/water mixture and using a fork bring everything together. Transfer your dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until you have an elastic dough, around 10min. Dust your bowl with some flour and return the dough to your bowl. Let it rest in a warm place while you prepare the filling, around 15min.

To make the filling, gently whisk together the tahini, sugar, carob molasses, spices, olive oil and water. You should have a thick-but-not-too-thick paste. Set aside.

Roll out the dough into a rectangle, around 2-3mm thick. Spread the filling on top. Then roll up the dough, cut in thick pieces, turn them on their side (like you would do with cinnamon rolls), and gently push them down, so that you have a small, round tahinopitas, resembling cookies. Alternatively, you can follow the traditional way: Fold the dough like an envelope, so that you have two layers of dough, with the filling in between. Roll up the dough and twist it around like a cheese stick. Roll it like a snail.

Place them in a baking sheet covered with greaseproof paper and bake in the oven at 160C for approx. 20minutes.

Remove from the oven and drizzle with honey, if using. Enjoy!


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.