Halva is a category of desserts which are very popular in the Balcans, parts of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. There are many variations, flavour combinations and textures. Today we are preparing halvas simigdalenios, literally translated as semolina halva. It is a dessert served all throughout Lent in Greece, and in many other occasions throughout the year.

It is also known as the 1-2-3-4 halva, as the key ingredients are measured by volume: 1 x olive oil, 2 x semolina, 3 x sugar, 4x water. In the classic recipe, the olive oil is mixed with the semolina, the sugar with the water and then the two come together. We’ve simplified the recipe, simply adding everything gradually in the same pot. We’ve also weighed the ingredients, so that it’s easier for those of us who do not like measuring things in cups.

The traditional recipe calls for the aromas of cinnamon, cloves and orange. We’ve also added almonds and raisins. You can add your preferred spices, use whichever nuts you prefer and other dried fruit instead of raisins.

Serves 6

100g olive oil
200g coarse semolina (you can also use fine, or a mixture of the two)
300g sugar (we used light brown sugar, but white sugar works as well)
400g water
1/3 tsp ground cloves
2/3 tsp ground cinnamon
zest from 1 orange
50g raw almonds (you can also use any other nuts you prefer)
50g Corinth raisins (you can also use any other dried fruit you prefer)

Roughly chop the almonds, so that they are the size of the raisins. Or however you prefer, it’s a personal choice, really.

In a bowl mix the sugar, cinnamon, cloves, orange zest. Set aside.

In a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pot and over medium heat pour the olive oil and semolina. Stir until the semolina is golden-brown, around 10 minutes.

This step is crucial. So leave all distractions outside the kitchen. Take your time in “roasting” as we say in Greek the semolina, and your halva will have a nutty, intense, wholesome flavor. But this step needs lots of care, so stay with it for those minutes, stirring and contemplating the beauty of the heat, as it transforms the white-yellow grains into golden brown. Or the beauty of those moments of stillness.

Once the semolina is ready, add the sugar-spice mixture and stir for a minute. Add the almonds and raisins and stir for another minute, smelling as the aromas come together.

Remove from the heat and very, very slowly add the water. It will splatter, so be careful.

Lower the heat to its lowest setting. Return the pot to the heat and stir until the mixture thickens up, around 15-20 minutes.

Again, do not leave it alone, the halva doesn’t like that. Yes, this is a recipe that takes time and care. But you will be rewarded. Soon, you will have a delicious halva. But as you may have realised by now, these moments of stillness, as you stir the halva, smell the aromas and breathe -without any distractions- are perhaps even more precious than the halva itself.

You will know it’s ready when it’s quite thick and there is resistance as you stir.

Now there are two schools of thought here.

Some prefer the halva hot, so in that case you are done and you can serve immediately. Others however prefer the halva cold. It’s a big debate in Greece, you must know. So if you want to serve it cold, pour the halva in a greased cake tin (even better if it’s non-stick), and let it cool down a bit. Place in the fridge to let it cool completely. Remove from the tin and serve.

After you are done, take a walk around the house. Perhaps the most rewarding thing when you make halva is the smell that fills your home.

Let us know which of the two ways you prefer (hot/ cold, or maybe at room temperature!) and in any case, do serve with extra cinnamon!


November is here and things seem to be more challenging than ever. We hope that you are all taking good care of yourselves and your loved ones. Times are tough, so remember to breathe and relax.

As we seem to be spending more and more time at home, this week’s recipe is one which we started to make on Sundays, so that we can have something tasty – and healthy- to nibble on, during those dull weekday afternoons, when many of us seem to be lost behind a laptop screen. This is a snack you can enjoy with a warm cup of tea by the window. A small sweet break in your routine, if you wish.

We’ve used what is perhaps one of the best dried fruits we’ve ever brought to you: dried pears. They are picked, sliced and dried without the addition of any sugar or other additives. They have a mellow, fragrant taste and soft texture. You can add them to your stews, salads, morning granola or baking. Or, you can use them to make these delicious, no-bake granola bars! And make sure to snack on some as you are cooking. Trust us, it makes the prep so much sweeter!

Makes 5 (one for each workday of the week)

50g raw almonds
100g dried pears 
150g cup oats
100g honey (we used Arbutus honey)
100g almond butter (see here how to make your own!)
¼ tsp each cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves
pinch of salt

Roughly chop your almonds and your pears. The larger the pieces, the more visible they will be in the bars.

In a large bowl place your oats and mix in the spices and salt. Add the chopped almonds and pears.

In a small pot heat the honey until small bubbles start to form. Remove from the heat. Add the almond butter and slowly whisk until blended together.

Pour the almond-honey mixture over the oats and using a wooden spoon, stir well.

Place in a small baking tray, lined with grease-proof paper. Press down firmly until the entire surface is flat. You can use a glass or the back of a large spoon to do so. Cover and place in the fridge for a few hours until firm.

Remove from the fridge and cut in 5 pieces.


We’ve got a new olive oil from our farm in Sparta! The Ginger, Lime & Basil Olive Oil is a very special oil. It is made from semi-ripe olives of the Koroneiki, Athinoelia and Kalamata varieties. These are crushed together with ginger, lime and basil. We use 1200g of semi-ripe olives to produce 100ml of this cold extracted oil. Of course it has no additives or preservatives. It has a very vibrant flavour and intense aromas, and a fascinating aftertaste.

This olive oil pairs perfectly with white fish and rice dishes. But what is the ideal way to savour such an exquisite olive oil? Vegetables, of course, as they are the perfect canvas to bring out its delicious colours. So this week, after a visit to the market, we got some fresh green beans and created this lovely recipe for you. It is quite simple, yet this olive oil transforms the green beans into magic!

This is great for a light lunch, but can also be served as a side dish as part of a meal.

Serves 2

500g green beans
2 small red onions
2 fat clove of garlic
4 tbsp olive oil
50g raw almonds
4 tbsp Ginger, Lime & Basil Olive Oil, plus more for serving
zest 1 lime
1 tbsp. lime juice
salt (to taste)

Cut your beans in large bite-sized pieces.
Place your beans in a large pot with boiling, salted water and cook for approx. 5-7 minutes until tender but not soft. Drain and place in a large bowl. While the beans are still warm, toss them together with the ginger, lime and basil olive oil, lime juice and zest. Season with salt. Set aside.

Finely slice the onion and mince the garlic. Gently fry in the olive oil, over medium-low heat, until caramelised, approx. 4-5 minutes. Roughly chop the almonds and add them to your frying pan. Cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Serve the beans with the onion-almond mixture, drizzling some more ginger, lime and basil olive oil if needed.


As we were preparing this recipe, we debated a lot on whether bee pollen reminds us more of winter or spring. You see, bee pollen is known as nature’s living superfood, as it is a source of essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids and enzymes including iron, protein, Vitamin B1, B2 and B3. So it’s our go-to ingredient during winter, when we feel we need an immunity booster. At the same time, it really reminds us of spring, of flowers blossoming and bees buzzing, as it is collected by honeybees from the forests and flora of Northern Greece.

So we decided to settle the debate, by making a spring granola with bee pollen. Eating this granola for breakfast also feels great for our body during these challenging times. And what goes best with bee pollen? Honey, of course and crunchy, beautiful almonds.

Makes 1 jar

200g oats
100g almonds
pinch of salt
4 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp orange blossom honey
1 tbsp sesame seeds
3 tbsp bee pollen

Preheat the oven at 150C.
Roughly chop the almonds.

In a large bowl, place the oats and almonds. In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, honey and salt. Pour the liquid mixture over the oats and nuts, and gently toss everything together, until the oats and nuts are all covered with honey and olive oil.

Place the granola on a baking sheet, nicely spread out and bake in the oven for around 20’, tossing regularly. Be careful not to burn it!

Once the granola is golden remove from the oven and let cool. Toss in the sesame and bee pollen. Store in an airtight jar.


This week we are feeling quite autumn-y. And what goes better with autumn, than wonderful baking activities on a Sunday afternoon!

So this week we are making a recipe that is something between a bread and a cake. What do we mean? It is a dough made with flour, nuts and dried fruit! It is very moist and not at all sweet. You can have it with tea, butter and honey for a filling breakfast, serve it as part of your cheese platter alongside crackers, or even enjoy as is.

For this recipe we used dried apricots and cherries. As our dried fruit have no added sugar, the result is dense and flavourful. But do not expect it to be sweet. It is more on the bitter/sour side. So if you wish, you can add a bit of honey or sugar in the recipe, or omit the balsamic vinegar. But first, try this one, it really is something special, especially served with plenty of honey.

Another idea would be to get our Autumn Baking bundle and use all of its ingredients for this recipe!

This recipe is adapted from a recipe created by Nena Ismirnoglou, whose recipes always surprise us with their simplicity and flavour.

Makes a medium-sized cake tin

200g all-purpose flour
8g dried yeast
300g dried fruit (we used a combination of apricots and cherries)
50ml balsamic cream with mandarin
120ml water
100g nuts (we used raw almonds and raw hazelnuts
2 tbsp oak honey, plus more to serve
½ tsp ground cloves, cinnamon or other warm spices

Finely chop the dried fruit. Warm up the balsamic cream with the water and pour over the fruit. Let them soak for 30minutes.

Ground the almonds and hazelnuts. Mix together your flour, ground nuts and spices.

In a large bowl whisk together the yeast with 2tbsp of warm water. Add to the bowl the flour-nuts mixture and dried fruit. Knead well until you have a slightly sticky dough. Cover with a tea-towel and let your dough rest in a warm environment for 30minutes.

Preheat your oven at 180C.

Place some greaseproof paper on a cake tin and drizzle it with 1 tablespoon of honey. Place your dough in the tin and push it gently. Drizzle the rest of the honey on top of the dough.

Bake for 30min. Remove from the oven and serve warm or at room temperature.


This year we decided to create a very festive recipe using our newest dried fruits and nuts! We selected the word stuffing when categorising this recipe, but this will make for a wonderful side dish, or vegan dinner. It is somewhat a combination of our other Christmas stuffing recipes. It is made with rice, just like our vegan stuffing from a couple of years ago, but also leeks, like the less ordinary stuffing we made last year. But this year we decided to take it up a notch.

We went full on with our dried fruit and used colourful nectarines and cherries. The bright yellow-orange nectarines are very aromatic and sour enough to add an additional dimension to this dish. Our cherries are moist and intense, full of natural sweetness. And what better pairing than our roasted and slightly salted almonds! And of course, many fragrant spices. It is Christmas after all.

We served our stuffing in an old serving dish, as we are somehow feeling more retro and nostalgic during Christmas. Somehow using old platters or bowls to serve our Christmas food brings us closer to all those moments of food sharing of the past. You know, these dishes do carry their own histories.

But before we get carried away, let’s get to our recipe!

Serves 4 as a side
1 large leek
4tbsp olive oil
200g Carolina rice
600ml vegetable stock
50g dried nectarines
50g dried cherries
50g almonds, roasted and slightly salted
1 tsp spices (we used a combination of cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg)
salt, black pepper (to taste)
lemon zest and fresh parsley (to serve)

When it comes to the dried fruit or nuts, you can select to finely chop them, roughly chop them, or for the more adventurous out there, leave them whole.

Finely chop the leek. In a medium-sized pot and over medium-high heat gently fry the leek in the olive oil until transluscent. In the meantime, rince your rice under cold running water. Strain and set aside. Add the rice to your pot and stir until coated with olive oil. Add the dried nectarines, cherries, almonds and stir again. Season with salt and pepper. Be mindful, the almonds are slightly salted!

Pour the vegetable stock, bring to a boil, and then turn down the heat and cook your stuffing simmer half-covered until the rice is cooked and the fruits are plump and rehydrated.

Serve with lemon zest and fresh parsley or other fresh herbs.

Merry Christmas everyone!!!


The word melitzanosalata in Greek means aubergine salad. But despite its name, it is not a salad. It’s a spread, or you can call it a dip, it’s a creamy thing anyways. In Greece this is the dish to go for at any taverna by the beach. It is even better with rounds or fried aubergine. You know, fried aubergine dipped into an aubergine spread. Double your pleasure. You can even add a couple of tablespoons of melitzanosalata to last week’s salad.

Of course, summer is the season to get the best aubergines around. And make your own melitzanosalata. This is not the traditional recipe. Traditionally only olive oil, vinegar and a bit of garlic is added to the aubergine. But for this week’s blog post we have experimented a bit.

We wanted to use tahini, even though this links more to the middle eastern baba ghanoush. But we love using tahini to add depth and warmth to our recipes. And a touch of honey to sweeten it a bit.

1.5kg aubergines
1 large clove of garlic
60g tahini
20g wild flowers honey
2tbsp olive oil
juice of one lemon
20g raw almonds, crushed
salt
smoked paprika to serve (optional)

 

Preheat your oven to 180C. Using a fork pierce your aubergines all around. Place them in a roasting tray and into the oven. Roast your aubergines for around an hour, until very tender inside. Remove from the oven and let them cool down a bit.

Using a spoon, scape all the flesh and place it in a large bowl. Some people prefer to remove the seeds. We are not those people, we love using the entire vegetable. Mash the flesh with a fork. In a separate bowl whisk together your tahini, honey, olive oil, lemon juice. Combine the two and stir in the almonds. Mix well.

Alternatively, once you have the aubergine flesh, dump everything except the olive oil in a blender and blend until smooth. Slowly add the olive oil towards the end.

Season with salt and add more oil or lemon if needed. Serve with the smoked paprika (if using).

 


Spring vegetables excite us, you must know this by now. And it is always a challenge to find new things to do with all these greens that are popping up in the market.

This week we decided to use one of our favourite staples, lentils. We usually associate lentils with comforting winter soups, or nutritious salads. But how about something…lighter? This dish is filled with all sorts of green things. The way we think about food is reflected on this lentil salad.

So follow us, take a walk around the market, and put in your basket all the greens that inspire you. We got a selection of broad beans, peas, sugar snap peas, zucchini, avocado and leeks. And to make it even more exciting, we’ve added crushed nuts on top of the salad. You could also crank it up a notch by adding some feta cheese or galomyzithra cheese, but we decided to keep this one vegan.

For 2 people you will need:

1 avocado
150g lentils
100g various spring vegetables (peas, broad beans, sugar snap peas)
1 zucchini
1 leek
4tbsp olive oil
25g mixed nuts (walnuts, almonds)
1-2tbsp red wine vinegar
salt

Boil the lentils in salted water for around 20min until cooked but not mushy. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.

Finely chop the leek. Place the leek in a frying pan, over medium low heat with the olive oil. Cook until soft but not caramelised.

In the meantime, cut the zucchini and avocado in small cubes. Rinse your spring vegetables under cold water and drain.

Add the zucchini to your frying pan with the leek and cook for 4-5min until tender. Add your spring vegetables and cook for 2 more minutes.

Place everything together with the lentils and avocado in a large bowl. Stir and season with salt. Serve with the crushed nuts and by drizzling vinegar on every plate.


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.