This week we’ve got a diffrent kind of Greek pie for you. As you know we love pies, and traditional Greek recipes! This recipe comes from the region of Thessaly, in mainland Greece, an area with vast valleys and mountains. It is sometimes called the “easy” spanakopita, or hortopita (wild greens pie) as it’s basically a spinach or wild greens pie, but without the classic filo.

As with most traditional Greek recipes, there are as many recipes out there as there are cooks. When researching for this blog post, I discovered lovely stories of “this is how my grandmother used to make it”, tips on how to achieve the best texture and so forth.

In this pie, the filling is the same as that of the spanakopita, with spring onions, onions, and/or leeks, spinach and feta cheese. Many also use wild greens instead of spinach, as in the classic Hortopita (wild greens pie). However here, all vegetables are added raw. Our alliums were not that tender, so we gently fried them for a bit, diverging from the classic recipe.

Instead of the labour-intense filo, the cooks prepare a mixture of cornmeal, olive oil, and some liquid, placed on top and at the bottom of the filling. Some use water (and omit the feta cheese if the pie is to be consumed during Lent). Others use milk instead of water, kefir, or yoghurt mixed with water. Some put little pieces of butter on top of the pie before placing it in the over, but olive oil is also preferred.

In our version of plastos, we went for our beloved olive oil instead of butter, and used vegetable stock for the cornmeal, as we feel it offers a delicate, light texture. We also love equal parts of filling/filo, but if you prefer more filling, just use a bit less of the cornmeal / water mixture. Feel free to experiment and create your own version of this wonderful pie!

Serves 10

4 spring onions
1 medium leek
2tbsp olive oil
500g spinach or seasonal greens
1 large bunch of dill
250g feta cheese
600g cornmeal
100ml olive oil, plus more for greasing the pan and drizzling over the pie
500ml+100ml water, vegetable stock or other liquid

Preheat your oven at 200C.

Place your spinach in a large bowl, season generously with salt and massage the leaves for 2-3 minutes. Their volume should reduce in half. Set aside in a colander, as you prepare the rest of the filling.

Finely slice the spring onions and leeks. Place them in a frying pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and gently fry until tender but not caramelised. Let cool.

Finely chop the dill.

In a large bowl add the spinach, spring onions and leeks, dill, and crumble the feta cheese.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the cornmeal with the 500ml of vegetable stock (or other liquid you are using). Season generously with salt. You should have a thick mixture, resembling a slightly looser cookie dough.

Grease a 30cm baking pan with olive oil. Place half of your cornmeal mixture and spread it so that the bottom of the pan is covered. Place your spinach filling on top.

Add the 100ml of vegetable stock (or other liquid) to the remaining cornmeal mixture to dilute it, so that it resembles a loose cake batter. Pour it on top of your spinach filling. Drizzle plenty of olive oil on top.

Bake at 200C for 50min-1 hour on the bottom rack of your oven, until golden. Serve with Greek yoghurt of more feta cheese.


Ladera, literally meaning foods that have plenty of olive oil are perhaps the most loved dishes of Greek cuisine. These are vegetables (always in season), that are slowly cooked with olive oil and either lemon or tomatoes. Plenty of herbs are added towards the end of the cooking. These dishes take time and care, but the result is mellow, comforting flavours that have come together over low heat. Remember our pea & lemon stew?

Olive oil is the star in these dishes, and we love using our Ergani for such recipes. It is a classic olive oil made from ripe olives, produced on a small organic family farm in the Messinia region of the Peloponnese. It has a full, traditionally rich flavour and is fantastic for this week’s recipe.

We’re making a pea and tomato stew, with the first fresh peas of the season! You can use frozen as well, but if you can find fresh it will be amazing! This is my mother’s recipe which we grew up eating in the summers. In the classic recipe, some add potatoes or carrots, so feel free to do so! My mother also adds cinnamon in all tomato-based dishes, so of course, I had to.

This dish is great on its own as a main dish, but also an ideal accompaniment to roast chicken. It is also perfect for lunch the next day, and some even prefer eating it at room temperature or cold!

Serves 2 with plenty of leftovers

½ cup olive oil
1 large onion
500g fresh peas
1 bottle tomato passata or 4 tomatoes, blended
1 tsp tomato puree
salt, pepper
a few pinches of cinnamon
small bunch of dill, finely chopped

Finely chop the onion.

In a heavy-bottomed pot add your olive oil and onion. Over medium heat gently cook the onion until translucent but not caramelised, around 5-10 minutes. Add the peas and stir.

In a bowl add two cups of hot water and the tomato paste. Stir until the tomato paste is dissolved. Add it to your pot.

Add the tomatoes (or passata). Season generously with salt and pepper. Add the cinnamon and stir everything together.

Cover, turn up the heat and bring the peas-tomatoes to a boil. Turn down the heat, and let it slowly cook until the peas are soft, around 30-45 minutes minutes. Add more water if needed.

When the peas are tender, add the dill and let it simmer for a few more minutes.

Serve with plenty of feta cheese and crusty bread.


Pies are very much loved in Greece. They were traditionally created as a way to use whatever vegetables, herbs, and other foods were available. They represent in many respects the “Greek cuisine of need”, in which the food that is created is interlinked to the changing of the seasons and availability of ingredients.

It takes flour, water, olive oil and vinegar to make the filo and then the cook’s imagination takes over. This week we are making a classic Greek pie, spanakopita. We’ve made a vegan version in the past, which is also traditionally eater during Lent in Greece. The basis of this pie is of course, spinach. Some kind of allium, usually spring onions, red onions or even leeks are used. Feta cheese is a must, as well as eggs for texture. In some households milk, cream or yoghurt is added in the filling, but we decided to keep it classic. You can make your own filo, use store-bought, or even puff pastry! If you can get your hands on large, dark green spinach leaves go for it! They take a while to clean and prep, but I feel they work better here than baby spinach.

Serves 10

1 bunch of spring onions
1 medium leek
1.5kg of spinach (leaves and stalks)
½ cup olive oil (80ml)
1 small bunch of dill, leaves only, finely chopped
250g feta cheese
4 eggs
8 sheets of filo
150ml olive oil

Preheat the oven at 180C.

Finely chop the spring onions, leek and spinach stalks (if any). In a large pot, and over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and gently fry them until translucent and tender.

Roughly chop the spinach leaves and add to the pot, turning up the heat to high. Season with salt and pepper (but remember not to use too much salt, as the feta cheese is salty too). Stir everything together, until the leaves become tender, reduce in volume and all liquid is absorbed, around 20 minutes. Add the dill, remove from the heat and let the spinach cool down.

Crumble the feta cheese in the spinach mixture and add the eggs. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

Brush your baking tray with olive oil and place one sheet of the filo. Brush with olive oil again. Cross over a second sheet of filo, ensuring that the entire surface of your tray is covered. Brush with olive oil. Continue crossing over with olive oil and filo, using four sheets in total.

Place the cool filling in your tray, careful not to break the filo.

Cover with one sheet of filo and brush it with olive oil. Repeat until the top is covered with four sheets of filo. Tuck in the edges. Brush the top with the remaining olive oil.

Score the pie and bake at 180C at the lower rack of your oven for about one hour.


If there’s one thing that’s associated with Greek cuisine (but also Turkish and quite a few others for that matter), that is definitely filo. Filo is a thin dough made with no yeast or other leavening agent. It is used for a variety of dishes, like baklava or pies.

It takes quite a bit of skill to roll out filo swiftly, and if you ever find yourselves in a Greek village, you will see older women, using a very thin rolling pin, creating paper-thin layers of filo in a few seconds. We do not have that skill (yet!), but join us as we -slowly- roll out filo.

This recipe was given to me by my godmother, Alexandra, who got it from her friend, also called Alexandra. It is surprisingly easy to make, so if you have never made filo before fear not!

Makes 8 sheets for a 30cm pan

350g all-purpose flour (you can also use half wholegrain and half all-purpose flour)
salt
70ml olive oil
45ml red wine vinegar
120ml (1/2 cup) water

In a large bowl add the flour and season generously with salt. Whisk together the flour and salt. Add your olive oil and vinegar and start mixing everything together using your hands. Add the water and work the dough in the bowl, until all ingredients are combined, and the dough is no longer sticking at the sides of the bowl.

Place the dough in a clean, floured surface. Work the dough for another 5 minutes until smooth. Return it to the bowl, cover in clingfilm and place it in the fridge for one hour.

Separate the dough into eight balls. You can use a scale to ensure each ball is the same size as the others, but really, you don’t have to.

Roll out each dough ball, so that you have a very thin, round sheet of filo, adding a bit more flour if needed. If when you start rolling our your dough it springs back, then it needs to rest a bit more. Leave it outside the fridge for another 10 minutes and try again.

You can roll out the filo by rotating the dough clockwise, and rolling it away from you. Alternatively you can rotate your rolling pin clockwise, moving from the centre of the dough outwards, keeping the dough in front of you.

Place the filo sheets on top of each other with clean kitchen towels in between. By the time you have rolled out the last one, they will have dried up a bit, which is what you want, so that they can absorb the beautiful olive oil that you will brush them with.

Your filo is now ready to use!! Check out our pie recipes for inspiration!


On Sunday we celebrated Greek Easter! There are many traditions that go with this celebration. There’s the lamb on the spit, of course; our beloved tzatziki; dying eggs red; fasting for 40 days; eating loads of tsoureki, the traditional brioche-type bread; the traditional magiritsa soup, made of offal.

Galatopita is a tradition upheld at Marianna’s home, and in many other Greek hourseholds as I’ve discovered while researching for this post. Galatopita literally means milk pie. Its custard-like filling has a buttery, creamy texture and a subtle, comforting sweetness. It is made of milk, sugar, fine semolina and eggs. Some variations around Greece include filo, while others omit the filo. The recipe we’re using is by Mrs Kalliopi, Marianna’s mum. It was hand-written, with just a rough estimate of the ingredients, and no cooking instructions. More of a reminder for the experienced cook of what goes into the galatopita. We absolutely love such recipes!

In the past, this was traditionally made with fresh, unpasteurised milk. So if you can find some, do use it for this delicious dessert. We used goat’s milk for ours. If you try any plant-based milk, do let us know how it turned out! As this recipe only has very few ingredients, do try and get the best you can afford. Definitely get the cinnamon to serve, this is not optional, it’s part of tradition.

So let’s enter May, and celebrate spring with this sweet delicious dessert. Thank you Mrs Kalliopi!

Serves 10

1200ml milk (approx. 6 cups)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
200gr white sugar (approx. 1 cup), plus more for the baking tray
150gr fine semolina (approx. 1 cup)
6 eggs
Olive oil and more semolina (for the baking tray)
cinnamon (to serve)

Preheat your oven at 180C.

Place your milk in a large heavy-bottomed pot and over medium heat. Add the vanilla and stir well. Add the semolina and sugar. Using a whisk, start whisking all the ingredients together. As the milk warms up and the semolina hydrates, you will slowly see the mixture thickening up. Do not forget to whisk the mixture, otherwise the milk will burn at the bottom of the pot – you do not want that. The texture we are going for is like that of a very thick béchamel sauce, or Greek yoghurt.

After the mixture thickens up, after around 15-20 minutes, remove your pot from the heat. Very slowly add the eggs, one by one, whisking constantly so that each egg is incorporated before moving to the next one. You should end up with a very smooth, silky mixture.

Butter or oil a shallow baking tray and dust it with plenty of semolina. Pour in your mixture. Sprinkle more sugar and cinnamon on top. Bake at 180C for 40-45 minutes, until the cream is set.

Serve with plenty of cinnamon.

 

 


Remember last week’s semolina halva? This week, continuing our journey to the magical land of halva, we are making sesame halva with honey! Traditionally this sesame halva is made with sugar and tahini. However, as many (including us!) prefer honey to sugar, many recipes now opt for sweet, runny honey instead. The texture is less crumbly and resembles that of toffee, which we must admit, we absolutely love.

For this, we’ve used our whole tahini, but you can use the classic one as well. We’ve also used a combination of strawberry tree (Arbutus) and orange blossom honey. Both coming from the Peloponnese, arbutus is a rare “bitter” honey made by bees feeding on the Arbutus unedo tree flowers (strawberry tree), while the orange blossom honey is a delicate, sweet honey with a citrus taste and a light amber colour. They pair perfectly in this halva!

This is the basic recipe, to which you can add cocoa or chocolate, various nuts (almonds are a classic!), or sesame. We love pistachios, as they have this beautiful pink-green bright colours which make the halva not only taste, but also look delicious!

This is a quite filling snack, so a little goes a long way. Cut it in small square pieces and enjoy with your afternoon tea, for breakfast or as post-dinner dessert!

 

280g tahini (whole or white)
280g honey (we used both strawberry tree honey and orange blossom honey)
80g raw, unsalted pistachios or any other nuts of your choosing

Place your pistachios at the bottom of a non-stick cake tin. You can finely or roughly chop them and/or roast them if you prefer. We left them raw and whole.

Stir well your tahini in the jar and add it in a small saucepan. Over low heat warm it up for a few minutes. Remove from the heat and place in a large bowl.

In a small saucepan and over low hear warm up the honey, until bubbly and caramelised. To check if it’s ready, drizzle a bit in a glass with cold water. It should shape as a soft ball and not be runny. If you have a candy thermometer, you should aim for 115C.

Once your honey is ready add it to the tahini. Using a wooden spoon, stir everything together. Almost immediately, you will see the mixture changing texture, as the ingredients come together. When it gathers around your wooden spoon and not touching the sides of your bowl you are done!

Carefully pour the halva in the cake tin over your nuts. Let it set for a few hours. Cut in small pieces and serve!

 


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!


Fanouropita is a traditional Greek olive oil cake, made in honour of St Fanourios. The saint’s name, Fanourios, comes from the Greek word fanerono, which means to reveal; and this is where this cake’s name, fanouropita, comes from.

St Fanourios is celebrated on the 27th of August every year. On this day, many Greeks bake Fanouropites and take them to church to be blessed. The legend has it that these are in memory of the saint’s mother, who was a harsh woman, and whose salvation the Saint (and by extension the bakers) ask. So when one bakes the cake, one needs to say “God forgive the mother of St Fanourios”. Which is something I did not do, as I only found out about it during my research for this piece. So please, when you bake this cake, do it for me as well.

But fanouropita is also baked asking the saint to reveal items that are missing, or to bring people something that they want: Good health or “a good husband”, if one is single. So even though it is not August (yet!), this week we decided to make this cake and ask for health, and for finally being able to see, share food and hug our loved ones.

It is important to know that this cake is to be made with only seven or nine ingredients, symbolic numbers in Greek religion. Apart from the 7 key ingredients, we’ve added our delicious Corinth raisins and walnuts. The result is a rich and moist cake- and vegan! You can make it with sunflower oil, but we feel that the olive oil gives it a more robust flavour, so do give it a try!

Serves 8

150g super-fine white sugar
150g olive oil
350ml orange juice (from 3-4 oranges) and zest from 2 oranges
½ tsp baking soda
400g self-raising flour
1 tsp ground cloves
2 tsps cinnamon
50g Corinth raisins
50g walnuts

Preheat your oven at 170C.

In a large bowl sieve the flour, cloves and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a separate bowl whisk the sugar and olive oil together until very well combined.

Mix the orange juice and zest and stir in the baking soda. Be careful as it will bubble. Slowly add to the olive oil-sugar mixture.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon, until just combined (you do not want to overmix the flour). Add the raisins and walnuts and give it one final stir.

Your batter should look like a loose cake batter. Place it in an oiled baking tin and bake at 170C at the bottom rack for an hour, or until your knife comes up clean from the middle of the cake.

Remove from the oven and let your fanouropita cool in its tin. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

 


Vasilopita is a traditional Greek cake, especially prepared for New Year’s Eve. On New Year’s Eve, the whole family gathers around the table, and just past midnight, the host cuts the Vasilopita. Each member of the family gets a piece. But there’s a secret. There is a coin inside the Vasilopita and whoever finds it is said to have luck for the entire year!

This year many of us will not be having the large family gatherings of the past. But in honour of these gatherings, we have prepared for you Oliveology’s Vasilopita. The recipe if from Marianna’s mother, Mrs Kalliopi, who makes it every year for her family. Needless to say we were extremely happy she shared it with us!

Serves 20

250g butter
6 large eggs
400g sugar
4 medium oranges (both juice and zest)
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 kg flour

Beat butter and sugar, until white and fluffy. In two bowls, separate the eggs yolks and whites. Beat the whites until soft peaks form. Set aside.

Slowly incorporate the yolks one by one into the butter and sugar mixture.

Mix the orange juice with baking soda and be careful as it will bubble. Slowly add to the mixture, so that it doesn’t splatter.

In a separate bowl sieve the flour and baking powder. Slowly add to the mixture.

In the end, fold in the egg whites and gently mix with a wooden spoon or spatula.

Bake at 180C, until your cake is cooked through, for around an hour. You can check by inserting a knife in the middle of the cake. If it comes our clean, it’s done.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and using almonds, or your fingertips, write 2021 on your cake.

Happy New Year!!!


The phrase “spoon sweets” sounds a bit peculiar in English, but it’s the actual translation of the Greek phrase Gluka tou koutaliou. The phrase gave its name to a category of “sweets” that are served and eaten with (you guessed it) a “spoon”. It includes fruits (but also vegetables) that are slowly cooked with water and sugar. The fruits are picked when in season, and large quantities of spoon sweet are prepared. They are then carefully stored in jars, and last all year-round, until the fruits are in season again. As the fruits slowly cook in the sugary syrup, they release their natural sweetness and their flavours intensify. The result is quite flavourful, so usually a small spoon is enough to satisfy your sweet cravings. In the past, every guest was greeted with Greek coffee and a small plate of spoon sweet.

So this week, as the market was full of grapes, we decided to go ahead and make Gluko tou koutaliou stafyli (grape spoon sweet). For this, select the larger grapes, as they will better hold their shape. And we used seedless grapes.

Makes 2 jars

675g grapes
350g sugar
200g water
zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp lemon juice
Greek yoghurt (to serve)

Carefully remove the grapes from the vine and wash under cold running water. Drain well and place in a large pot with the water, sugar, lemon juice and zest. Bring to the boil, without stirring. Then immediately turn the heat to the lowest setting and stir carefully so that the grapes are mixed with the sugar syrup.

Cook, half-covered, for 54min to one hour. To test if the spoon sweet is ready, take a tablespoon of the syrup and place it in a small plate. Let it cool and run your finger through it, to create a line. If the syrup stays in place, then you are done.

Remove from the hob and let it cool.
Store is glass jars and keep in the fridge.

Serve with Greek yoghurt!