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.

 


This Valentines’ Day is unlike any other. Most of us are still on lockdown. We are rarely able to spend time with our loved ones – let alone go out and meet new people to love. But despite the pandemic, or perhaps because of it, now is the time to, more than ever, express our love to the people around us. To ourselves as well.

So this week’s recipe is a very special one. It is an easy and fun recipe to make, it gets your hands messy, and with your favourite music on, it is guaranteed to cheer you up. Plus you know, you are left with lovely chocolate truffles to enjoy -yes we are making chocolate truffles!

But of course, these are no ordinary truffles. Remember last year’s olive oil and dark chocolate mousse? This year we are using olive oil as well, but a very special one. Our 21C olive oil! It is made from semi-ripe olives cold extracted together with walnuts, purslane,  fennel seeds, rosemary and oregano. The wild aromatic herbs give these truffles a subtle earthy flavour; and as we love nuts, so we couldn’t but add plenty in these little chocolate balls.

Makes 25
350g chocolate 60% cocoa (you can do a bit less, or a bit more, depending on what you prefer)
200g double cream
2 tbsp 21C walnut oil
100g nuts (hazelnuts, almonds or walnuts)
to serve (finely chopped nuts, or cocoa, or powdered sugar, or salt and pepper)

Cut the chocolate in small pieces (the size of chocolate chips). Place in a large bowl.

Roughly chop the nuts. Set aside.

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan warm up the double cream until bubbly on the sides, but not boiling. Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Let sit of a couple of minutes.

Using a whisk, slowly whisk together the chocolate and cream (the cream will have melted the chocolate by now). It will slowly come together. Once it does, add the olive oil and whisk again until you have a smooth and shiny mixture.

Add the nuts and stir everything together, using a wooden spoon. Spread the mixture in a shallow baking dish and place it in the fridge. After half an hour or so, it will have changed in texture you will be able to shape it. Give it a bit more time if you need to. Using a teaspoon for measuring shape your chocolate into little balls.

You can serve them as is, or roll them in finely chopped nuts, cocoa, powdered sugar or (our favourite) sprinkle some sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Store them in the fridge for a couple of weeks (well, we seriously doubt they will last that long!) and always serve at room temperature.


Welcome to 2021! We hope you all had a peaceful end of the year and are somewhat ready for the challenges and fun times ahead. During these first weeks of the year many of us reflect on the year past and make plans for the future. Food, of course, is always part of our new year’s resolutions. No matter what these are (eat more vegetables!), this week we have a simple, fun recipe for you. We are kicking off 2021 with a very unique pesto-like dish.

The inspiration for this dish came to us when faced with plenty of wilted greens in the fridge. Usually we go for pesto, but alas, there were no nuts at hand. But there’s always dakos around, so we figured, why not give this a try?

The result is magnificent! With a much more intense and robust in flavour than your classic pesto, this recipe is perfect to accompany all sorts of vegetables, from roasted carrots to boiled broccoli. Or you know, just eat it straight from the jar.

Makes 1 jar
2 cups of greens (we used spinach and parsley)
½ cup olive oil, plus more if needed – depending how thick they want it
50g dakos carob rusks
1 tbsp 17C lemon oil
2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
salt

In a food processor or pestle and mortar blitz together the rusks until they resemble like little rocks. Add the greens, olive oil, lemon oil and vinegar and blitz everything together, until you get a pesto-like texture. Taste, season with salt, adding more olive oil or vinegar if needed.

Serve with more dakos rusks!


This week we’ve got a very Christmassy recipe for you! Think of tender butternut squash and sweet potatoes, roasted in the oven and mixed with plenty of olive oil, to create the perfect creamy mash. It is the ideal side dish for your Christmas table, and why not, a main meal on its own, with a green salad! Oh, and did we mention it’s vegan?

As you know, we love roasting vegetables. Do you remember last year’s Honey & Grape Molasses Carrots, or the Festive Brussels Sprouts with Walnut Oil from a few years ago? It is true that flavoured olive oils take roasted vegetables to a whole other level. Especially this year, we were very happy to add the unique Ginger, Lime & Basil Olive Oil to our selection. And in this dish, it pairs perfectly with our Apple Olive Oil with Cinnamon, Walnuts and Honey!

For this mash, we’ve used not one, not two, but three olive oils! The flavours complement each other, adding depth and silkiness to the dish. Serve with all three, so that your guests can select which one they prefer. And as we are during a pandemic, when we say guests, we mean you.

Serves 6

1 kg sweet potatoes (approx. 3 large)
1.5 kg butternut squash (1 medium)
100ml olive oil, plus more to serve
2 tbsp ginger, lime and basil olive oil, plus more to serve
2 tbsp apple olive oil, plus more to serve
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp nutmeg
salt, pepper

Preheat the oven at 200C

Peel the sweet potato and cut in bite-sized pieces. Set aside. Peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds and cut in bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

Lay the vegetables separately in two roasting trays, making sure they are in one layer.

In a bowl whisk together the olive oil, ginger oil, apple oil, thyme, paprika, salt and pepper. Drizzle the mixture over the two trays. Toss the vegetables, so that they are nicely coated with the flavoured oil mixture.

Cover each tray with tinfoil.

Place the two trays in the oven, roasting the vegetables for 1-1,5 hours, until very tender. Let them cool.

Mash them all together, using the liquid from the roasting trays. You should have a smooth mash. Serve with plenty of olive oil.


We were so proud to receive the news for the Great Taste Awards! Every year we participate in Great Taste, the world’s largest and most trusted food and drink awards and we are always very excited when the results come in!

A panel of over 500 experts spent time tasting our lovely products and we are very proud to announce that we have five products with star ratings! Below are the awarded products and some of the judges’ comments. We can’t wait to celebrate!

18°C organic extra virgin olive oil *1 star*

This is the first olive oil of the season, made from unripe olives when they are still small and green. An olive oil with intense flavour and a unique grassy taste. Some of the judges’ comments:

Beautiful, richly coloured, green-gold olive oil with its warm, fruity and peppery aromas. Smooth and silky in texture, the oil dissipates on the palate to reveal its flavour profiles. Sweet meadow hay, buttery artichoke and fresh green almond notes are quickly followed by peppery, feisty young fruit flavours, daring and bold. An astringency plays around the edge of the palate leaving a natural vibrancy. This oil is fresh, lively and spirited.

This buttery light oil has a gentleness suitable for light salads.

Young, fun and delicious!

 

Ginger, Lime & Basil Olive Oil *1 star*

This special oil is made from semi-ripe olives crushed with ginger, lime and basil. It has a vibrant flavour and intense aromas. Some of the judges’ comments:

A deep golden coloured, clear oil with a warm ginger aroma. The flavours of ginger and basil are quite soft and mellow, well balanced with the richness of the oil. The oil has a gentle fruity flavour and is soft and smooth.

The basil was fresh and fragrant, and there was a lovely warmth from ginger followed by a little pepperiness from the oil. The texture was rich and smooth.

 

21°C organic extra virgin olive oil *1 star*

This special oil is made from semi ripe olives crushed with walnuts, purslane, and wild aromatic herbs giving a fresh taste that is full of flavour. Some of the judges’ comments:

Thick and buttery on the palate, it has a strong, lingering herbal flavour.

A gorgeous rich green olive oil positively glistening with natural goodness and tantalizing the palate with its aromas of sweet and aromatic fennel. Smooth and silky in the mouth…Brisk walnut flavours are followed by woody, resinous heady notes from rosemary…The peppery fruit flavours are present and bring a feisty little kick on the finish.

An interesting and intensely aromatic oil – the flavours are so clearly Greek. The fennel seeds provide a striking sweetness with a little bit of nutty bitterness from the walnuts.

 

Plain Kalamata olives *1 star*

These are the classic Kalamata olives. They have a great flavour and fleshy texture. Some of the judges’ comments:

A really rich reddish brown and plump, these olives pack a punch. The salt level is excellent and balances well with the bitterness. There’s hints of sweetness towards the end of the olive profile also present in the marinating oil.

Your Kalamata olives have such a wonderful black purple shine, and truly do look inviting… your olives are fruity in texture and flavour and deliver a truly traditional Kalamata taste.

These olives have a beautiful blackish brown colour, a shiny firm looking skin and a fruity aroma. The flesh is meaty but tender in the mouth and there is lots of upfront fruity sweetness and acidity followed by a pleasing touch of bitterness.

 

Kalamata olives with ouzo *1 star*
Kalamata olives, marinated in extra virgin olive oil, ouzo, lemon peel, star-anise and fennel to produce a unique Greek olive taste. Some of the judges’ comments:

Beautifully shiny Kalamata olives. There is a distinct aniseed/ouzo aroma. The olive flesh is soft and giving, coming off the stone well…the combination is very reminiscent of sitting at a harbour side bar with a bowl of olives and a iced glass of cloudy ouzo. The balance at the finish is long and good.

Wonderfully plump, glossy looking olives with a distinct aroma of ouzo. The olives are soft and juicy.

 

Have a look at exciting recipes with olive oil, flavoured olive oils, and olives all around our blog.

 


Roasted red peppers really are the easiest thing to make. Don’t get us wrong, we love the jarred ones equally. Our organic Florina peppers are cooked over open flame. And this specific variety of Florina peppers is famous for its rich and sweet flavour! But as we now have a bit more time, we decided to go ahead and cook things we don’t ordinary prepare. And this recipe works well with any type of peppers you’ve got.

Roasted red peppers are excellent when stuffed with rice, shrimps, mince meat and of course, feta cheese! Finely chop them and add in sauces, salads, pasta and risotto for a boost of flavour. Blend them with some extra virgin olive oil and make your own dip.

10 large red florina peppers (around 1kg)
3 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar or sweet balsamic chilli vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil

Pierce the red peppers all around with a fork. Make sure you do not skip this step!

Remove the tops and gently tap the peppers so that you remove all seeds as well.

If you have a gas stove, you can roast them directly over the gas flame. Turn them around regularly for 10min or so, depending on how large your peppers are, until there are charred bits all around and the flesh is soft when pierced with a fork.

If you are using a conventional oven, place the pierced peppers in a baking tray and bake at 160C (no fan) for about half an hour, or until tender.

Remove from the gas flame or oven and place in a bowl. Cover with cling film and let the peppers steam a bit, until they are still warm, but cool enough to handle. Using your hands or a small knife, remove the skins and discard.

Place the pepper flesh in a jar, tupperwear or serving platter and add the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Keep in the fridge.


This week we’ve got a fascinating recipe for you, which we prepared using the last nettles of the season. We love nettles! A few weeks ago we made a wonderful nettle pesto, so this week we decided to go for something a bit more unusual. In Greece we usually put nettles in pies, but it’s rare that we would ever make something sweet.

But there was Mrs Kalliopi’s delicious olive oil cake recipe, which called for fresh fruit -we had originally made it with graded apples, if you remember? So we thought, why not try with nettles? So there you have it, a bright green olive oil cake with nettles –and a bit of apple. Nettles have a unique flavour, imagine something between spinach, cucumber, a bit grassy, this sort of thing. So now imagine a sweet version of this, and that’s our cake!

As always, make sure to use gloves when handling nettles and to blanch them before using them in cooking.

Makes one small tin

½ cup olive oil
1 large bunch of nettles
1 large green apple
zest from 1 lemon (optional)
1 cup of sugar
1 egg
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
Apple oil (to serve)

Preheat the oven at 180C.

Using gloves, pick the leaves from the nettles and discard the stalks.
In a large pot with boiling water blanch the nettles for 3-5 minutes. Drain and let cool.
Place the nettles in a clean tea towel and squeeze out as much water as you can. Finely chop or (better), blend them into a smooth paste. You should be left with roughly ¾ cups of nettle pulp.

Peel, core and grate the apple. Mix together the apple, nettle pulp and lemon zest if using. Set aside

In a separate bowl sieve together the flour and baking powder and set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the sugar and olive oil. Add the egg and whisk again until fully incorporated. Slowly add the flour and mix until incorporated. Add the nettles and apple and stir well with a wooden spoon.

Transfer to a greased and floured baking tin. Bake at 180°C for approximately 25 minutes, or until the cake is golden-brown on top and cooked through. To check, you can insert a knife and see if it comes our clean.

Serve with Greek yoghurt and our fragrant apple oil!


All of us at Oliveology love cooking with as little waste as possible. We love putting leftover veggies in hearty soups, to make tarts with whatever jarred ingredients we have in our fridge, and we even make bread with olives and sun-dried tomatoes we don’t feel like eating anymore.

When it comes to overripe fruit, we always go for jams. But I have been for years wondering about banana bread. You see, it’s not a cake, and it’s not a bread either. How does one eat it, really? So last week, when we had some overripe bananas, I knew it was time to see for myself. And when we say overripe, we mean black outside. Don’t bin them, make this recipe!

And of course, as you may know, we love adding olive oil and honey in almost everything. So banana bread could be no exception. This recipe also has Greek yoghurt, and wholemeal barley flour. And we also used a heart-shaped cake tin, no particular reason there.

What to expect: A dark brown colour, very airy, bouncy texture and a wholesome taste that is not at all sweet. So indeed, the name bread is really accurate.

Makes one large loaf (or a heart-shaped tin)

400g very ripe bananas
5tbsp vanilla fir honey
5tbsp olive oil
100g yoghurt (you can find it at our shops at Borough Market and Spa Terminus)
3 eggs
200g wholemeal barley flour
1tbsp baking soda
1tbsp baking powder
30g walnuts, finely chopped

Preheat the oven at 180C.

In a large bowl whisk the bananas until smooth. If you are left with a few banana lumps, that’s ok.

Add the honey, olive oil and yoghurt and whisk again. Add the eggs, one at a time, and whisk until you have a smooth mixture with a few banana lumps.

In a separate bowl, sieve the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add the mixture to the banana bowl and mix well. You should have something that looks like a slightly denser cake batter.

Grease your cake or bread tin with olive oil and dust with flour. Pour the batter in it and sprinkle the walnuts on top.

Bake at 180C for 30-45 minutes. The banana bread is ready when you insert a knife into the centre and it comes out clean.

Serve with Greek yoghurt and plenty of honey!


Valentine’s Day is one of the most wonderful days of the year. Why, you ask? Well, in my mind it’s associated with chocolate and you must know, I love chocolate. All of us at Oliveology as especially excited this year, as we are hosting our first Valentine’s popup dinner tomorrow evening. Our chef Lida has prepared a delicious menu (including a wonderful dessert with chocolate and bee pollen!) and will share with our guests fascinating facts about aphrodisiac foods and the senses. The event is sold out, but we have more exciting dinners coming up!

And for those of you who are looking for last-minute presents, have a look at our selection of Valentine’s treats, and especially our Valentine’s hamper and gift bag of treats.

In the past we have made some fun recipes for this day: A luscious white chocolate slab and an exciting orzo with truffle sauce.

And if you want to read more on wine and chocolate, this is by our very own Lida.

This year we decided to do something special. An olive oil and dark chocolate mousse.

Serves 4-6

200g good-quality dark chocolate
100g extra-virgin olive oil
5 eggs
75g sugar
pinch of salt
bee pollen (to serve)

Melt the chocolate in the microwave or using a bain-marie. Let cool and stir in the olive oil.
Separate the egg whites and yolks.
Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until fluffy and smooth.
Separately whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form.

Slowly add the chocolate and olive oil to the egg yolk/sugar mixture. Mix well. If it looks funny, don’t worry, keep going. Gently fold in the egg whites and mix well. You should be left with a smooth mixture.

Transfer to small bowls and refrigerate for a few hours until set. Serve with bee pollen and lots of love!