Have you noticed how colourful everything seems to be in October? Have a look at people’s outfits around you. Come to the market and see how fruits and vegetables turn autumn into a feast of colours. Maybe we are all competing with the seductive colours of the leaves, as they change to various shades of yellow, brown and purple. Go for a walk around the park, look around you for a few minutes and notice the green grass and the myriads of colours of the leaves. Yes, autumn is indeed full of enchanting colours.

And of course, it’s the time of the year for one of our favourite vegetables: butternut squash. With its bright orange colour and warm, comforting taste, it is the ideal ingredient for an autumn dinner.

Last year we made a comforting pumpkin soup. This year we are feeling a bit more adventurous. Both with flavours and colours for that matter. Think of bright orange butternut squash, red chillies, white feta cheese, dark golden chestnut honey and bright green sage. Can you think of anything better? I think the colours of this tart can proudly compete with the autumn leaves, wouldn’t you say?

This recipe is adapted from epicurious and serves 5:

1 sheet of puff pastry (approx. 20x25cm)
400g butternut squash
a few sage leaves
1 medium red chilli
2 tbsp olive oil + 2 tbsp for frying the sage leaves
30g-50g feta cheese
1 tbsp chestnut honey
salt
pepper

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Lay your puff pastry on top.

Using a sharp knife cut off a few centimetres from the bottom and from the stem end of the squash. Then make one long cut, down the middle from the top to bottom. Scrape out the seeds (you can save them and toast them separately if you want). Slice the butternut squash vertically as fine as you can, so that you have beautiful thin half moons.

Arrange the squash on your puff pastry, gently pressing it down. Overlap the slices, as they will shrink a bit while cooking. Leave a centimetre border. Brush both pastry border and squash slices with the 2tbsp of olive oil. Finely chop half of the chilli and scatter on top of the squash. Season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 30min or until puff pastry is golden and squash is soft and tender.

While your tart is in the oven, slice the rest of your chilli in fine rounds. Using a peeler, create shavings of feta cheese (or crumble it if you can’t be bothered).

In a frying pan heat the remaining 2tbsp of olive oil. Add the sage leaves and fry until crisp, but still bright green. Transfer to a paper towel.

When your tart is ready, remove from the oven. Scatter the remaining chilli, feta cheese and fried sage leaves. Drizzle with chestnut honey. See the colours everywhere?

 


Autumn is the time of the year when I get most..snacky. It could be the cold, slowly preparing us for winter, the gloomy weather, or the fact that most of us are getting busier and busier at this time of the year. But even when I’ve had a good breakfast or lunch, I always feel hungry in between. Hungry is not the right word probably. Most of the time I feel like I need to snack on something. And most of the time I’m craving something sweet.

But you know, usually sweet things make your cravings even bigger. And then you find yourself snacking throughout the entire afternoon. So I am always in search of interesting things to have with my tea or coffee. Like our mastic cookies, the oat bars with chocolate and tahini, or even some plain raisins.

This week, inspired by our home-made hazelnut butter, we are making intense, flavourful energy balls! What are we using? Oats, honey, hazelnut butter, and lovely dried cherries from our Borough Market shop!

This recipe is adapted from Epicurious.

Makes 18-20 small energy balls

50g wild flowers honey
1 generous pinch of ground nutmeg
1 generous pinch of salt
80g creamy hazelnut butter
50g oats
60g coarsely chopped dried cherries

In a large bowl mix honey, hazelnut butter, nutmeg and salt. Add the oats and dried cherries and mix everything together, using a wooden spoon or your fingers.

Taking a teaspoon of the mixture, form small balls. Store in an airtight container and consume throughout the afternoon. Or you know, whenever you get snacky.


The naming of all nut butters is quite clever if you think about it. Peanut butter, almond butter, hazelnut butter. You read these words and immediately your mouth is filled with the creamy taste of roasted nuts. You can almost feel it melting in your mouth, the smell of nuts filling the room.

There are all sorts of nut butters out there. But you know, not all of them are good for you. Read the labels before you buy anything. It’s a nut butter, the only ingredient it should contain is nuts. Maybe a pinch of salt. But nothing else. So next time you go shopping, try to source the nut butter that only has nuts inside.

Or, if you are a bit like us, you can make your own. Seriously, this recipe is very, very simple. Why not give it a try? As with all recipes that consist of few ingredients, you need to get the best quality nuts. We’ve got some lovely hazelnuts at Borough Market, straight from Greece. For a very smooth hazelnut butter, we will remove the skins from the nuts. But between you and I, if you can’t be bothered, just leave them on. This recipe includes roasting them. But again, you can get roasted ones. But as I replied to a friend when she asked why do I bother roasting my nuts for this recipe: can you smell the kitchen? This is why. So go on, give it a try!

For 1 jar you will need

500g raw hazelnuts
a pinch of salt

Preheat your oven at 180C.

Place your hazelnuts on a tray, all in a single layer. Roast for 10-15 min, checking regularly. You need your hazelnuts to have a golden-brown colour. But be careful not to over-roast them, otherwise they will become bitter.

Lay a clean tea towel on your table. Once the hazelnuts are roasted and still very hot, remove them from the tray and place them on your towel. Carefully wrap the towel around the nuts, holding it by its ends with your one hand. With your other hand roll the towel around, so that the hazelnuts grind against each other. After a few minutes, most of the skins will have fallen off, leaving you with lovely golden hazelnuts. If skins still remain you can transfer all your nuts to a clean tea towel and repeat for a few minutes.

Once your hazelnuts are skinless, pulse in a food processor. In the beginning you will have the texture of breadcrumbs for what seems like an eternity. Be patient, it takes only 4-5 minutes of pulsing. And then, magically, you get a smooth, creamy butter! Add a pinch of salt and blend for one last time. Transfer to a sterilized glass jar.


As you know we love salads that ain’t exactly salads. By that we mean that they go beyond leafy greens and dressing. Ingredients such as bulgur (and dried prunes!), dakos, favaki or lentils form the basis for colourful, filling dishes. These non-salads are great for a light dinner, and perfect for lunch. If you have leftovers, some of our readers also have them for breakfast, with the addition of a couple of fried eggs. Try it, it actually works!

This week, with fall in its full swing, we will be using black-eyed peas. These are very popular in the southern United States, cooked with pork for added flavour. In Greece things are, as you may have guessed, simpler. Greeks enjoy these legumes boiled and served simply with olive oil, lemon and a bit of salt. You see, Greek cuisine is all about simplicity in flavours.

And so are we at Oliveology. However, we will of course add a few more ingredients. Vegetables and herbs. And of course, keep the olive oil and lemon. The secret for this recipe is to boil the black-eyed peas in salted water. So that when you drain them, your main ingredient will be very flavourful on its own. Most of us usually season our dishes in the end. But this trick here makes all the difference.

For this salad, we recommend using parsley. However, you can use whatever herb you prefer. Dill would work great, and so would mint.

Serves 2 for main or 4 as a side
200g black-eyed peas
1tbsp coarse salt
1 bay leaf
½ cucumber
15 cherry tomatoes
zest of one lemon
1 small bunch of parsley
Plenty of olive oil (to serve)
Lemon juice (to serve)

In a medium-sized pot place the black-eyed peas, salt and bay leaf. Boil until tender. Strain and let cool.

Slice your cherry tomatoes in half. Dice your cucumber. Finely chop your parsley. Zest the lemon.

In a large bowl mix the black-eyed peas, tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, lemon zest. You can serve your salad at room temperature or cold. Before serving, drizzle with plenty of olive oil and lemon juice.


The question of what to have for lunch is always present. Often you can’t be bothered with turning on the stove. You only crave for something cold you can have straight from the fridge, or at least something that you can eat at room temperature.

However, the all mighty green salad, no matter how you dress it up, well…it is still a green salad. Something that, let’s be honest, might fill your belly but sometimes not your soul.

Here is where pasta salads come in. We are still not sure if the word salad is ideal for these types of dishes. Maybe the word salad is used because pasta salads are consumed cold. Maybe it’s used because pasta salads are the lighter cousins of pasta. No one knows really. But one thing is certain. Pasta salads are the way to kick off the series of foods we have for lunch. Yes, pasta salads lie between pasta and salad. The recipe below it is not a warm bowl of penne with tomato sauce. It is not a gem lettuce and avocado salad. It’s something in between. And this is exactly what makes it even more interesting. This recipe is inspired by the Greek chef Chrysanthos Karamolegos, who originally created this combination of flavours.

And we’re making our own mayonnaise for this one, give it a try!

Feeds 4 for lunch

2 spring onions
5 tbsp red wine vinegar
1tbsp sugar
½ cucumber
½ pack zea penne (read more on zea pasta https://oliveology.co.uk/asparagus-are-in/)
1 gem lettuce
1 avocado
5 leaves basil
3 tbsp mayonnaise
3tbsp olive oil
salt
pepper

Finely chop the spring onions. In a bowl mix the red wine vinegar with the sugar, until sugar resolves. Add the spring onions and let them marinate until you prepare everything else. This will give them a soft sweetness and acidity.

Boil your pasta in salted water. Once al dente, strain and rinse under cold water. Cut the cucumber in small pieces (you can choose between half moons, cubes, whatever you prefer really). Cut the avocado in cubes. Finely shred the lettuce and basil leaves.

Mix the mayonnaise and olive oil, adding water to dilute the mixture until you have a liquidy sauce.

Toss together the pasta, cucumber, avocado, lettuce, spring onions (removed from sugar/vinegar mixture), basil, dressing. You can use the leftover sugar/vinegar mixture if you feel more acidity is needed. Season with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature or cold if you prefer.

by Nafsika


The first chef I worked with once gave me what I consider to be the most valuable advice since. It’s all about the concentration of flavour he had told me, while preparing some greens with minimal water. You see, in home kitchens we are used to boiling ingredients, then getting rid of the water. Along with it goes much of the flavour. I hadn’t realised how important this advice was, until I started experimenting with various recipes. Like this one here. You’ll see what I mean in a bit.

It’s the end of the summer. Fine, the summer is long gone, but let’s pretend it’s still the end of the summer. September can allow us that. But tomatoes are slowly disappearing from the market, giving their place to autumn vegetables. And what better way to say goodbye to a lovely summer, but with a comforting soup. So this week, we take the last ripe tomatoes, roast them in the oven, concentrating their flavour to make a red, velvety soup. Ah, soups are so nice, remember our pumpkin one from last fall? Or our spring one?

The recipe is inspired by Gordon Ramsey’s own (no he was not my chef in case you were wondering).

For 4 servings you will need

1 large red onion
1 clove of garlic
1.5kg of ripe tomatoes, preferably of the same size
5tbsp olive oil
1tsp smoked paprika *
4tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
salt
pepper
500g vegetable stock

Preheat your oven at 200C.

Finely slice your onion and garlic. Place a large casserole or tray over medium heat. Add your olive oil and gently fry the onion and garlic. Add the smoked paprika, salt and pepper.

As the onions and garlic are cooking, prepare your tomatoes. Remove the core and slice them in half or in quarters if they are large. Once your onions are caramelised place the tomatoes in the casserole, all in one row. Don’t forget all the juices from your chopping board. You want your tomatoes to caramelise, not steam. Add the aged balsamic vinegar and let it reduce.

Place your casserole or tray in the oven, for 20-25 minutes, until tomatoes are soft and caramelised (see, now we have concentrated their flavour!). Remove from the oven and let them cool down a bit, so that you can blend them into a creamy soup.

Here is where you need to be very careful. Laugh not, it may sound obvious but you do not want litters of piping hot soup escape from your blender, like a volcano erupting hot lava all over your face, clothes and walls around you. Yes, this is from personal experience.

So once the tomatoes are cooled down, blend them in batches, using the vegetable stock (also cooled down!). Return your soup in a pot on the hob if you want to serve it hot. It is equally delicious cold though. Taste for seasoning.

Serve with a tablespoon of sun-dried tomato pesto, or drizzle with olive oil and a dollop of Greek yogurt.

——

* You can find smoked paprika at our shop at Borough Market

 

By Nafsika


Don’t you just love oven baked foods? There is something really comforting we find, when smells from the oven fill the kitchen. This week we are feeling very…Greek. What do I mean? Well, if you think of Greece usually what comes to mind is tomatoes, feta cheese and oregano.

At Oliveology we always enjoy experimenting with the various feta cheeses we’ve got at our Borough Market shop. There is the organic one, mild and smooth in flavour and hard in texture. It’s perfect to cube in salads or eat as is, drizzled with olive oil and oregano. Then there are the mature ones by Kostarelos, a Greek artisan producer who’s been making feta cheese since the 1930s. Talk about tradition on your plate. Their feta cheese matures in wooden barrels for six or twelve months. Yes, you heard right. This is not your everyday feta cheese. The twelve month one has a sharp deep taste and an all-round flavour with an intense aftertaste. The six-month feta is milder, with a velvery tanginess. But don’t let me get carried away, come by and taste for yourself.

Now, what does one do with such amazing feta cheese? Well, no matter which one you choose-it really is a matter of personal preference-here’s the recipe for you.

This week we’re cooking our bulgur wheat, in the oven, with pieces of tomato, plenty of oregano and pieces of mouth watering melted feta cheese. Can you think of anything more interesting for this autumn? If so, drop us an email or a tweet, we always love your ideas using Oliveology ingredients!

This recipe serves 2 as main, or 4 as a side dish. You’ll need:

200g bulgur wheat
1tbsp salt

8 tbsp olive oil
2 large tomatoes
1 tsp oregano
200g feta cheese
salt, pepper

Preheat your oven at 200C.

Fill a large pot with water and add the salt and bulgur wheat. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and let the bulgur wheat simmer until al dente, around 15 minutes. In the meantime, dice your tomatoes and feta cheese.

Once the bulgur is cooked, strain and place in a bowl. Add the tomatoes, feta cheese, oregano and olive oil and mix well. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Spread the bulgur mixture on a medium sized tray. Bake in the oven for 30-40min, until feta cheese melts and the dish piping hot.

Eat with a spoon. It’s more comforting that way.

 

by Nafsika


There is something fascinating about preserving. As you know, here at Oliveology, we love eating what’s in season. However, there is a way to enjoy foods, even when they are not in season. Yes, by preserving them! Over the years we’ve experimented with preserving Butternut squash in sugar or dried figs in olive oil and vinegar. This time around we are making pesto. Yes, we have made pesto before, with pistachios, parsley and basil. But this one is different. It’s made with basil, almonds and sun-dried tomatoes!

It is funny if you think about it. Sun dried tomatoes are tomatoes dried in the sun. Preserved in the sun. Our pesto takes this already preserved ingredient and preserves it even more. Preserving the preserved if you may.

The wonderful thing about pesto is that you can make as much as you want and store it in the fridge. Then, whenever you get hungry all you have to do is open your jar. This pesto is delicious on its own, spread on toasted bread. It also pairs well with white cheese, like our galomizithra cheese. Of course it is ideal for a summery pasta lunch. Just mix it with warm pasta and serve with a glass of wine. Ta Da!

For one large jar you will need:

1 cup of basil (approx. 80g)
50g raw almonds with skin
100g sun dried tomatoes
1 fat clove of garlic
120ml extra virgin olive oil
40gr Naxos graviera grated cheese

In a food processor pulse the basil, almonds, sun dried tomatoes and garlic until coarsely chopped. Slowly add the olive oil and pulse, until fully incorporated. Pesto should be grainy but with no large lumps.

Transfer to a bowl and mix in the cheese. Add some olive oil if needed and taste.

Store in a jar in the fridge.

You can source the almonds, sun dried tomatoes, graviera cheese, and of course olive oil from our shop at Borough Market.


One of the ingredients we really love at Oliveology is bulgur wheat. Not only because these small golden grains have a deep nutty flavour. Not only because they sort of remind us of Greece (remember our gemista?) Not only because we like to think they are the healthy alternative to pasta. Mostly we love bulgur because it’s an ingredient we can use throughout the year. What do I mean? You can make wonderful winter dishes with it; remember our pie ? Check our pie and wait for the first cold days of the fall and you will see what we mean). But also, you can have bulgur cold, in filling summer salads. Combinations are endless.

This week our inspiration comes from something that came into our store recently: succulent dried prunes. Dried prunes and nectarines came in a few weeks ago. We all got very excited as you can imagine. We used the nectarines to make a very Greek granola. You can put prunes there too. But we decided to make something savoury with them. That’s the beauty of these dried fruits. They pair beautifully both with sweet and savoury flavours.

This salad here isn’t really a salad. It’s a wonderful main for a dinner on a warm summer night. You can have it warm too, but cold is quite nice. You can make it in advance, keep it in the fridge and when your guests come you’re all sorted.

Just make sure not to overboil the bulgur wheat (we did in the initial recipe testing). But on our second testing, we decided that al dente tastes way better.

For 4 people you will need:

400g bulgur
1 small orange (juice and zest)
1 small lemon (juice and zest)
2 cups water
salt, pepper
1 small bunch fresh coriander (leaves only, approx. 30g)
1 small bunch fresh mint (leaves only, approx. 30g)
1 small bunch fresh parsley (leaves only, approx. 30g)
200g prunes

To serve:
a handful of raw almonds, roughly chopped
wild flowers honey (to taste)
extra virgin olive oil (to taste)

In a large pot, pour the water. Add the citrus fruits, both juice and zest. Add the bulgur and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil. Lower the heat and cook until bulgur is tender, approximately 15-20 minutes, stirring regularly.

Let the bulgur cool down. In the meantime, finely chop your herbs. Roughly chop the prunes. Mix together the herbs, bulgur and prunes. Before you serve, drizzle your salad with olive oil and honey. Taste and add salt and pepper if you want. Sprinkle the almonds. Serve at room temperature or cold.

 


Oregano might be a humble herb with a glorious name, nonetheless. In Ancient Greek, Ορίγανον: όρος+γάνος = η λάμψη του βουνού is the joy, the brightness of the mountain. Ancient Greeks would crown bridal couples with wreaths of oregano as a blessing of happiness upon their marriage.

Oregano is one of the most popular Mediterranean herbs and one of the foundations of Greek cuisine. Greece happens to be where the most praised varieties come from and Mount Taygetus is home to the most favoured of all Greek oreganos. The herb has been used since the antiquity as a food flavouring and medicine mostly for respiratory diseases.

Have you ever tried an herb called oregano not smelling or tasting like oregano as the authentic one? That is mostly because oregano is a wider category used to define nearly 50 plants available across the world that respond to a similar flavour profile. For example, you might have heard of Lippia graveolens, “Mexican oregano,” also known as Mexican marjoram or Mexican wild sage (not a true oregano), or Thymus Capitatus, “Spanish oregano” and Origanum majorana, “Sweet marjoram”. The authentic Greek Oregano is Origanum Vulgare ssp. Hirtum that has been scientifically proven to have antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties, as well as very potent aroma and intense flavour. 

In Greek cuisine, the herb is used dried, usually; there’s always a jar full of it in the Greek home. Oregano is used in tomato sauces, with meats, fish, cheese, egg dishes, salads, cheeses, and with vegetables including tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, and green beans. Combine it with minced garlic, sea salt, and olive oil and you have a flavourful marinade for pork, beef, or roasted potatoes.

The ancient Greeks were also the first to realize the amazing healing properties of oregano. It has powerful antibiotic, antifungal and antioxidant properties. It is used as a painkiller and anti- inflammatory. Oregano tea is considered a treatment to treat pain, colds, asthma, indigestion and fatigue. The leaves and flowering stems are natural antiseptics because of high carvacrol content. Oregano is rich in C, E, K, A vitamins, manganese, magnesium, calcium, niacin, zinc and iron among others.

This herb, rich in essential oils, pungent and peppery is quite sensitive when stored. We advise you in store it in glass containers; away from the heat and the sunlight but still, not in the fridge.

Make sure you buy your oregano from a trustworthy supplier. The recent years, a number of illegal harvesters have been stripping Greek mountains of wild herbs and rare plants.  We really hope this issue is solved as soon as possible as this looting stops natural regeneration, threatens delicate ecosystems and leaves entire mountainsides denuded.

In case you are growing the herb at your home, oregano protects the other plants from diseases and harmful ants. That is especially useful during summer, when mosquitos or other ants are hard to avoid.

Talking about the joy of cooking, have you seasoned your meal with oregano, today? Looking for inspiration? Oregano is a match in heaven with tomato, which is a match in heaven with feta which takes us to dakos, without a second thought.

Pop by our shop at Borough Market and smell our exceptional Greek oregano! We supply it in bunches or ground, hand harvested from the wild mountains of Epirus. The oregano as well as all of our wild herbs grow within Mrs. Maria’s organically certified land in Epirus. We also supply oregano essential oil, a premium oil organically produced and organically distilled on the farm Aetheleon outside Thessaloniki. This exceptional oil besides its culinary use as a food flavouring, it is widely acknowledged in the international scientific community for its strong antibiotic, antifungal and antioxidant properties.

Photo Credit: Aetheleon

By Lida