Yes, it’s spring! After our weeks of asparagus love (did you make our asparagus frittata? How about the bulgur wheat salad?) we were very tempted to cook again with asparagus. But you know, spring has so many other beautiful vegetables. So this week we decided to make a delicious spinach and rice stew! Spanakoryzo, as we call it in Greece, is the simplest yet the most delicious dish. I think the reason is that, as with most Greek recipes, very few ingredients come together, and each shines.

In spanakoryzo, you can taste how the lightly metallic taste of spinach mellows in slow cooking. We paired it with sweet spring onions and leeks (yes, we love it when spring vegetables all come together). In the end, we put loads of dill and squeezed plenty of lemon juice. The aniseed and lemon notes of dill pair perfectly with the warm stew and the lemon brings the sun into your dish.

We used our carolina rice. This is the one we use for our rice puddings. As the rice absorbs all the fragrant juices from the vegetables, its high starch content gives the spanakoryzo a creamier texture.

Serves 4

1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for serving
5 spring onions
1 medium leek
1 large onion
1 kilo fresh spinach
200g Carolina rice
500ml water
1 large bunch of dill, finely chopped
juice of 1 lemon, plus more for serving
salt

Finely chop the spring onions, leek and onion. Finely chop your spinach.

In a large shallow pot, pour the olive oil and over medium low heat gently fry the spring onions, leek and onion until translucent.

Add the spinach and stir until half in volume.

Add the rice and stir until it’s well mixed in. Soon after pour in the water. Stir and season with salt.

Let your stew simmer for 20-30min or until the rice is cooked through.

Turn off the heat, add the dill and lemon juice. Serve with more lemon juice and a generous drizzle of olive oil.


You know how all of us support no-waste cooking. There are many ways to incorporate leftovers in your meals. Yes, leftovers can be tricky sometimes. But not if you have a few clever ideas up your sleeve.

In the past, we have used our intense truffle butter to transform leftover mash potatoes or our aromatic walnut oil to roast various leftover veg and chickpeas.

This week we have a new idea for you! Make a tart. Tarts and pies are good that way. You see, if you make say a spinach pie, you can use whatever greens you have available, wilted or not. If you make a tart, you can use it as your basis for whatever ingredients you have laying around in your fridge.

We took the idea from Bon Appetit, which is the writer’s favourite cooking magazine. So for this tart we used puff pastry (but you can make your own if you want, and a feta cheese/yogurt base. Then you can really use whatever ingredients you have around. For example, I had a few sun dried tomatoes and marinated artichokes that we did not use at our last cooking class and wine tasting. These keep perfectly in the fridge covered in olive oil. But the time comes when one wants to clear their fridge. Enter tart idea.

 

Serves 4 as main:

1 sheet of puff pastry (approx. 300g)
100g whole milk
150g feta cheese
150g Greek yogurt
100g sun-dried tomatoes
100g marinated artichokes

Preheat your oven at 180C.

In a small pot and over medium-low heat, warm up your milk. Crumble the feta cheese in the pot and stir well until feta cheese melts and there are no lumps. Remove from the heat and let it cool down a bit. Fold in the yogurt and stir until well combined.

Roll out your puff pastry and place it on a baking sheet. You can use greaseproof paper, or make sure to oil the baking sheet so that your tart doesn’t stick to the bottom.

Using a fork, pierce the puff pastry across all of its surface. Put the puff pastry in the oven and bake for 5 min, until light golden. Remove from the oven and let it cool. Leave the oven on.

Spread the feta/yogurt mixture on the puff pastry, leaving a few cm on each side. Scatter the sun-dried tomatoes and artichokes all around. Drizzle some of their oil if you wish.

Place back in the oven and bake for 20-25 min, until the puff pastry is golden. Now, this is what we call cooking with leftovers!

 


This week we are cooking asparagus again! You see, the beauty of waiting all year long for a vegetable or fruit is that you can then enjoy it to the fullest. This week we have decided to make something simple. As we are busy preparing for our upcoming cooking workshop in mid-May, and many new exciting things for this autumn, we often find ourselves very tired at the end of the day.

On days when the idea of cooking something elaborate for dinner seems absurd and you come home late from work (or worse, you have more work to do like we often do), this simple recipe will make you happier. Making it only takes a few minutes, enough to relax you from the day’s stress.

For this one we’ve used St Isidoros cheese, a smooth and intense goat’s milk cheese, made on the island of Naxos and matured for 400 days. Come by Borough Market to taste it!

So here we go, ingredients and recipe for two people:

4 eggs
½ bunch asparagus
a couple of pinches of dried thyme
1 small leek
3 tbsp olive oil
100g St Isidoros cheese, grated
salt, pepper

Turn on your oven to grill.
Finely slice the leek. Remove the woody ends from the asparagus and cut each in half.
Blanch the asparagus in boiling water for two minutes.
In an oven proof skillet gently fry the leeks with the olive oil until softened.
Set aside and sprinkle half of the cheese.
Mix the eggs, salt, pepper and the rest of the cheese in a bowl, whisking with a fork.
Pour the egg mixture on top of the leeks and scatter the asparagus.
Place it under the grill for 5 minutes, or until the eggs are set.

We hope that by now you have relaxed. Set the table and serve with a simple green salad.


St George’s day here in the UK marks the beginning of asparagus season. As you know, all of us at Oliveology love cooking with ingredients that are in season. And the writer of this blog post loves asparagus!

Our lovely guest chef Despoina was part of Borough Market’s celebration for St George’s day, making delicious recipes with some of our ingredients! If you want more, you can find her at the Borough Market Cookhouse along with our very own Marianna in our two upcoming cooking workshops in May and June.

So with spring in its full swing and the sun shining, this week we have also prepared for you a recipe with, what else, asparagus. With green all around us in London parks we couldn’t but combine asparagus with fresh green vegetables. So get your basket, come by the market and get all your ingredients for a green grain bowl! Oh, and this one has a zingy green yogurt dressing to go with it. This dish is perfect to take with you for a lunch in the park, or enjoy for dinner in a warm evening.

For 2 people you will need:

100g cooked bulgur wheat
1 small bunch of asparagus
1 medium cucumber
1 avocado
a handful of seasonal greens (we used fresh spinach)
1 bunch of fresh mint
1 bunch of chives
100g Greek yogurt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp grape molasses
zest of 1 lemon
juice of half a lemon
salt

 

Dressing: finely chop your herbs. In a small bowl mix the yogurt, herbs, lemon zest. Season with salt and add lemon juice to taste.

Asparagus: Cut the asparagus. We finely chopped the stalks and kept the tops. But you can do whatever you prefer. Blanch the asparagus in boiling water for 2 minutes. Place in a bowl with ice cold water to stop them from cooking further.

Veg: Cut the cucumber in bite-sized pieces. Slice the avocado.

In a large bowl, mix your bulgur wheat with asparagus, cucumber, and half of the dressing. Place in bowls, top with the sliced avocado and seasonal greens. Serve with fresh herbs, more dressing and lemon wedges.


OLIVE JAPAN International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition is one of the premier olive oil competitions in the world, bringing together the highest standards of integrity and professionalism in awarding medals to the best oils from around the globe. It takes place in the region of Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan.

The process of selecting and awarding olive oil has very strict quality criteria based on the International Olive Oil Council’s regulations and standards. The tasting selection was done by blind tasting from expert panel tasters of international prestige and stature. There was a large participation of olive oil from many oil producing countries worldwide such as Australia, China, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, U.S.

We are very proud to announce that our 18C evoo acquired a very high score (9,00 -9,50 / 10 points) and was awarded the GOLD MEDALIt is a great honor and recognition for our producer Sakellaropoulos Organic Estates.


This week we’ve got something special for you! A sneak peak into our March Cooking workshop! For this one, Marianna teamed up with lovely Despoina Siahuli, for a 3-hour Greek feast! Despoina shared her skills and Oliveology Cooks learned to make delicious Greek dishes. Marianna talked about our favourite Oliveology ingredients and their stories. Everyone gathered together and shared food and wine in the end.

In case you missed it, there will be more!
But to give you an idea, this week we have prepared for you one of Despoina’s recipes from the March workshop! Despoina put together a beautiful combination of flavours: dakos rusks, grape molasses, feta cheese, hazelnuts. All of these coming together with seasonal greens!

We’ve adapted her recipe, steamed our greens and used more dakos and feta, but the core flavour palet is the same. And it’s delicious!

So make the recipe and sign up for the next two cooking classes with Despoina and Marianna! We look forward to having you there cook with us.

Serves 4 as a side or two as main

Salad
300g of spring greens
50g roasted hazelnuts
100g dakos croutons
100g feta cheese

Dressing
¼ clove of garlic, minced into a paste with salt
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp grape molasses
4 tbsp olive oil
salt, pepper

In a large pot with salted, boiling water blanch your greens for 3-4 minutes. Remove and place in a bowl with iced cold water. Let them cool.

To make your dressing, whisk together the garlic, vinegar, grape molasses. Slowly add the olive oil. Taste and season with salt and pepper (but remember, feta will add a layer of saltiness too).

Crush your hazelnuts and crumble the feta cheese.

In a large bowl toss together greens, hazelnuts, dakos croutons, feta cheese and dressing.

I liked this salad more the next day, the flavours all blend together and dakos is soft. Try it both ways and let us know which you prefer!

 

 


How was your Easter? We are all now well rested from the long weekend last week and getting ready for our own Greek Easter. Easter in Greece is one of the most important holidays. Starting from Clean Monday, the days of lent prior to Easter prepare us all for this week. Going to church, making sweet tsoureki and painting eggs are only a few of the traditions we uphold during those days.

On Easter Sunday, families gather together for the Easter lunch. Lamb is served, alongside a simple salad with lettuce, spring onions and plenty of dill. Then, each family has its own additions. Some will prepare pies, others will have various types of meat. At Oliveology we always go for tzatziki. This refreshing dip balances perfectly the intensity of lamb. And we make ours with plenty of garlic of course.

So, in the classic recipe the main ingredients are yogurt, cucumber, garlic and dill. But we are going to take this one step further this Easter. Marianna’s very own family recipe swaps the cucumber for raw beetroot, giving this pink tzatziki sweetness and crunch.

For a large bowl you will need

500g yogurt
3 cloves of garlic, minced to a paste (if you love garlic then feel free to add more)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil plus more to serve
1 large beetroot
3 tbsp. fresh dill, plus more to serve
salt  (to taste)

Grate the beetroot. Place in a bowl, squeezing away any excess liquid (you can use the liquid for smoothies, soups or cocktails). You can skip this step if you prefer a less thick tzatziki. Add the yogurt and dill and stir well. In a separate bowl whisk together the olive oil, vinegar and garlic. Combine the two. Mix until all flavours have blended together. Taste and season with salt. Serve with plenty of dill and olive oil.

 


If you haven’t tried Greek tsoureki before, then you are certainly missing out! Soft, fluffy, with a beautiful brown semi-soft crust and an amazing stringy texture. Its distinct, rich flavour and intense aromas come from the two aromatic spices used: mastic and mahlab, which give a really characteristic flavour and smell. Freshly ground mastic (masticha), is an aromatic spice from Chios island, and aromatic mahlab or mahleb (mahlepi), is a spice made from ground seeds of cherry.

Ingredients

40g fresh yeast
60ml water
75g special flour for tsoureki (a flour mix, high in protein)
45g butter 82% fat
135g sugar
100g eggs
85ml milk
10g mahlepi (a spice made from cherry stones)
20ml orange juice
Zest from an orange
3g grounded mastic (resin obtained the mastic trees in Chios island, PDO product)
1g salt
A portion of vanilla (powder)
425g special flour for tsoureki
40g melted butter 82% fat, in medium temperature
1 egg, beaten for egg wash
40g thinly sliced almonds
Red eggs (if desired)

Method

Sprinkle yeast over lukewarm water and let it stand for 10 mins. Afterwards, add 75g of flour, stir to combine and leave it to rise in a warm place for approximately 45 mins.

In a pot combine 45g butter, sugar, eggs, milk, mahlepi, juice and orange zest, mastic, salt and vanilla and warm up the mixture until it’s lukewarm. Stir to combine with a whisk. Add the mix to the electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and start adding flour gradually, stirring between additions. Combine the initial mix (with the yeast) as well and mix until the dough is elastic. Finally, add melted butter and keep mixing until the dough doesn’t stick to the mixer bowl anymore. Transfer the dough into a buttered bowl, cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for approximately 45 mins, until doubled in size.

Transfer the dough onto a floured surface and cut the dough in 350g balls. Line a baking tray with baking parchment. Divide the dough into three and roll into three stands. Plait the strips together, place on the baking tray and leave to rise in a warm place for approximately an hour, until doubled in size. Brush the top of the bread with egg wash, sprinkle some almonds and push the red eggs (if desired) into the bread. Finally, bake tsoureki at 170° for 40 mins. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Καλό Πάσχα – Happy Easter!


One of the first things I tried at Oliveology was the kalamata olives with ouzo. Until then I had never tried anything like it. They were intense, meaty, with the aniseed flavour present, but not overpowering. They were amazing!

Since then I have been thinking what to do with such an interesting product. Greek chef Ismyrnoglou gave me the inspiration with one of her recipes.

This week, we are making chutney! But not what you have in mind. This is the easiest chutneys you’ve ever made. It tastes like Greekness on a plate. Even though you know, chutney ain’t really Greek. But that’s ok, right? What are we using? Two ingredients only: ouzo flavoured olives and dried figs.

You can serve it with cheese or spread it in a sandwich. You can also eat it as a snack. It really is delicious!

For one jar you will need:

150gr kalamata olives with ouzo
150gr dried figs

Cut the figs in small pieces and place them in a small pot, with just enough water to cover them. Bring the water to the boil and then simmer until they absorb all the water and are moist and juicy. Cut the olives in identical pieces. Or not. Really, you can chop everything as you like. The smaller the better though! Once the figs have absorbed all the water and are nice and sticky, place both ingredients in a bowl. Mix the olives and figs so that they stick together. Your Greek chutney is ready! Keep it in the fridge so that it lasts longer and enjoy at room temperature.


Well, after a weekend of snow here in London, we might have been a bit hasty celebrating spring last time. But the sun is shining again, so let’s just wait a bit and see, maybe it’s finally here!

This week we’ve got a salad for you. I’m not sure recipes like the one below should be called salads (remember, we’ve had this discussion when we made our pasta salad last spring). But anyhow, these are dishes that feel healthy, are eaten without making you want to fall sleep after and give you energy to get through the day. Just like salads. Yet more filling.

The writer of this blog post grew up hating our main ingredient, gigantes beans, cooked in the traditional fasolada (bean soup). But things change as one grows older, and often we see the same things very differently. And all of us at Oliveology love discovering new ways to cook familiar ingredients.

These beans become soft and buttery when cooked. They are, I must admit, so flavourful that they can stand on their own. However, we’ve added a few things to brighten up their smoothness. Think of roasted broccoli and green peppers, zingy lemon zest and juice and our favourite lemon and herbs kalamata olives. So let’s get started before the weather turns cold again.

1 small head of broccoli
1 large green pepper
a few pinches of dried thyme
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
salt, pepper

100g gigantes beans
vegetable stock or herb stalks, vegetable scraps
salt, pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
zest of 1/2 lemon
½ tub lemon olives

The night before soak your beans in plenty of water.

Cut your broccoli into florets. Use the whole vegetable, just cut the stem in smaller pieces. Cut the pepper into large chunks. In a bowl toss broccoli, green pepper, thyme, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread onto a baking tray and bake at 180 for 30 min or until broccoli is charred and soft.

Place your beans in a medium sized pot, cover with new water and vegetable scraps or stock. Bring to a boil and simmer until beans are tender, around two hours. Season with salt after the beans have softened up.

Drain and let the beans cool. In a salad bowl toss together beans, broccoli, green pepper, olive oil, lemon juice and zest and lemon olives. Taste and add more salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy in the sun. Or snow, who knows anymore?