The sun is shining. We are now officially in the beginning of summer. Summer is always better if one is by the sea. But most of us are not. So when one lives in a city, summer foods make it all better. Around the market you can now find watermelons. For us, it is the ultimate summer flavour. We spend the entire summer with this pink, sweet fruit. Eaten as is, straight from the fridge is dreamy. Some say it’s even better at room temperature. But you know, it’s summer, one wants something cold to balance the heat.

The last few years, recipes using watermelon are popping up. Think away from smoothies for a bit. Watermelon’s sweetness and crunch balances perfectly with something creamy and salty. You guessed it. Feta cheese and watermelon can become best friends!

And while in Greece usually watermelons are massive-a few kilos each- here, you can get a lovely small watermelon at the market for the salad we are suggesting.

This salad is quite simple. Went for the classic flavour combinations. Watermelon-feta cheese-mint. However, you can use whatever herbs you prefer. How about fresh coriander? Hm! The measurements for watermelon and feta are balanced, but you can obviously add more cheese if you want. Try it and see.

Here, we used our 18oC olive oil. Its grassy, fruity flavour is the perfect pairing for these ingredients.

And whatever you do, don’t forget the vinegar. It really makes all the difference, brightening up the entire dish. Something like the early summer sun, brightening up our lives. You can of course experiment more, add a bit of chilli for spice, lemon or lime for acidity.

For 2 people
400g of watermelon flesh
150g feta cheese
2 tbs olive oil
dashes of red wine vinegar
a few springs of mint
pepper

Remove the peel from the watermelon. Cut the flesh in cubes. We prefer large bite-sized pieces. Place in a bowl. Cut the feta cheese in identical cubes. Fine, they don’t really have to be identical. Add to the watermelon. Pour over olive oil and splashes of the red wine vinegar. Finely chop the mint and sprinkle on top. Add some freshly ground pepper.

This salad makes for a perfect summer lunch. We tried it for breakfast actually. Trust us, it works!


What is Dakos you say?

Dakos salad is one of the most iconic Greek dishes and probably one of the simplest to make. For us Greeks, it brings back memories of Greek summers. Of time spent by the sea, in the village. This is why often we eat it all year round. And in the big cities most of us now live.

What is dakos, many may ask. Dakos is a hard rusk traditionally made with barley. Barley mixed with water, salt and sourdough creates these delicious dark brown rusks. Barley gives a more intense flavour. Nowadays many make dados rusks using wheat, or a mixture of wheat and barley. But please try and get the barley ones. Especially if this is your first time tasting this. Barley after all is good for your body. It is a rich source of nutrients, that are essential for you, including protein, dietary fibre vitamins and minerals. So go on, swap wheat for barley for a bit. Dakos is good for your soul, too. The way it is usually prepared in Greece, originating from the island of Crete, forms the perfect filling lunch or dinner. Even breakfast if you prefer savoury flavours in the morning.

Our dakos rusks are made just for us by a family owned bakery in Chania, Crete. They still use their family recipe from 1930’s and bake them in traditional ovens using olive wood. These rusks come in various forms and shapes. The ones we prefer at Oliveology are the round ones that come cut in half.
Tradition has it that the top part of the rusk, slightly lighter in texture as it containing more air, is given to guests. The hosts always take the bottom part. Greek hospitality through food, wouldn’t you say?

There are many ways to use dakos; it is so versatile. During our cooking workshop  our guest chef Despina Siahuli even crumbles it on top of strapatsada (the greek version of shakshuka), a dish made with eggs and tomatoes.

Yes, tomatoes go great with dakos. Ideally you need juicy, ripe tomatoes. But if you can’t find any, our passata is an ideal substitution. Just add a few cherry tomatoes for texture. The way we usually prepare and savour dakos is simple, yet includes flavours that smell of Greece. Tomatoes, oregano, feta cheese, olive oil, olives. We always add capers too. We won’t give you quantities for this recipe, as you should adjust everything according to your own personal taste. Every household in Crete has their own way of making dakos after all.

You will need:
Dakos barley rusks
Tomatoes (or combination of passata and chopped tomatoes)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Feta Cheese
Dried oregano
Kalamata Olives 
Capers

Start by laying your rusks on a platter. You can prepare individual plates, but the Greek way of serving food is sharing it. Drizzle some water and olive oil on top. This will moisten the hard rusks. Scatter the passata and chopped tomatoes, with all their liquids. Don’t worry, the rusks will absorb them all. Crumble some feta cheese. Scatter olives and capers. Add oregano generously. Drizzle with lots of olive oil. Smell it. Smells like Greece, doesn’t it?


Spring is in its full swing!  To welcome spring here at Oliveology we brought in some very delicious new ingredients. All from Greece of course. All from small artisan producers. All of excellent quality. We will have plenty more of these in this blog in the future.

For now, we will celebrate spring introducing you to our golden marinated artichokes. Tender, meaty, fresh. Marinated in extra virgin olive oil, with a golden white colour. You can savour them as they are, or enjoy them in wonderful spring salads.

Speaking of spring salads, the amazing thing when following the seasons is that one can experience all sorts of new foodstuffs. What comes with spring? Well, we will pair our artichokes with purple sprouting broccoli. This is a very interesting vegetable, that also happens to be very beautiful. Its dark green and purple stems, leaves and florets complement perfectly our artichokes.

Serves one as main or 2 as a side dish

2 large handfuls of purple sprouting broccoli florets -you can replace with broccoli or cauliflower- (approx. 1 cup)
1 large red pepper or 1 roasted red pepper
A handful of marinated artichokes (approx. 1/2 cup)
A few springs of mint, finely chopped
Red wine vinegar (to taste)
Salt (to taste)

Trim any woody broccoli stems. Slice horizontally any large florets so that all have the same size, to cook evenly. You should have both florets and stem attached together. Rinse under cold water. Boil in salted water for 3 minutes. Test and leave a few more minutes if needed. Let cool.

Roast the red pepper in the oven at 180C until tender and the skin has blackened. Once you are able to handle it, remove skin and seeds and discard. Save the juices from your baking tray. You can skip this step if you are using roaster red peppers from a jar. Slice the roasted pepper in long strips.

Mix the broccoli, artichokes and red pepper. Add the olive oil from the artichoke marinade (no waste here-it’s delicious!) and the juices from the roasting pan of the pepper, or a tablespoon of the juice from the jar. Add a few splashes of red wine vinegar, sprinkle the mint and season with salt. Enjoy!


During the cold winter months our mind goes to hot, comforting food. Soups, stews, roasts. However, our bodies also crave foods that will sustain us. Eating raw foods is exactly what we need in January. Especially when it comes to foods that we have associated with something else.  What do we mean?

Think of beetroots. Or carrots. Usually we think of beetroots or carrots boiled or roasted. Served as salads or sides, or as part of a stew. Yes, we are used to eating these winter vegetables hot.

But what if we tried something different? Eating raw is good for the body. Add to this crunchy walnuts and sweet raisins. Eating this colourful, delicious salad is good for the soul too. Plus, needless to say, it really needs nothing but the vegetables, a knife and a cheese grater.

For 2 people you will need:

4 medium sized beetroot (approx. 400g)
2 small carrots
1 green apple
50g of walnuts
20g of raisins
3 tbls of olive oil (+link 22)
1 tbls aged balsamic vinegar
Pinch of sea salt

Peel and grate the beetroots, carrots and apple.  If you love different textures then grate the beetroot and cut the carrots and apple into various shapes and sizes: slices, cubes, whatever you fancy. If you also have beetroot leaves, finely slice them too. Mix all together.

Crush the walnuts and sprinkle over the salad. Add the raisins. In a small bowl whisk the olive oil, vinegar and sea salt. Pour over salad and serve.

Enjoy!


The countdown for Christmas has started. In preparation for this year’s celebrations we are bringing in store many delicious ingredients. Ingredients to cook with; ingredients to offer as gifts; ingredients to indulge yourself with.

Corinth raisins and dried figs have arrived from the Peloponnese, organic walnuts from the island of Eboea. They are a great addition to your morning cereal, yogurt or porridge. They are a very healthy snack between meals. They are amazing to add to any Christmas cheese platter. You can use them as ingredients in myriad festive cakes, puddings and bread.

But most importantly, they are what turns a salad dish from everyday, to festive. The small black raisins punch above their weight in terms of their sweetness and taste. Dried naturally under the Greek sun, the figs are succulent and intense. Pure, nutty walnuts add crunch.

Walking around the market we selected delicious green leaves to create this festive salad, and our very own artisan galomyzithra cheese, a soft white cheese made in Crete from goats’ and sheep’s milk. Of course, any salad that respects itself has a good quality extra virgin olive oil (we chose our 22oC). And finally, an aged balsamic vinegar will add the much needed acidity and sweetness. Read below the list of ingredients, we have a little secret in the end.

So here goes:

Festive Salad (For two people)

1 bunch of green leaves
A small handful of raisins (approx. 20g)
3-4 large dried figs, cut in half
A small handful of walnuts (approx. 50g)
100g of galomyzithra cheese
3 tbs of extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs of balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper (to taste)
grape molasses (to serve)

Place your leaves in a large bowl. Add the raisins, figs, walnuts and gently toss. In a separate bowl mix the olive oil and vinegar together with a pinch of salt and pepper. Dress the salad and place in a beautiful serving platter (it is festive after all). Add the cheese and serve, drizzling some grape molasses to add sweetness.


If you have ever travelled to Greece, it’s most likely that you have lost your heart to dakos, like Yotam Ottolenghi, this mouth-watering snack.

Cretan rusk, paximadi or dakos is the basis of the Cretan snack. It might seem confusing but dakos is the word for the Cretan rusk (paximadi) in Crete as well as the salad with it. Paximadi (or the dish with it) can also be found under the name of koukouvagia. Another brilliant version is the one from Kythera, ladopaksimada” (rusks baked with olive oil).

A rusk is twice-baked, dehydrated bread, in order to be maintained and eatable longer than fresh bread. It was considered a staple in Greece, especially for all those families who couldn’t knead daily. This product was essential to the diet of sailors, shepherds, farmers and all those who would spend a lot of time away from home. Consequently, this food is considered to be one of the first standardised products in Greece.

This tasty alternative to bread is flour-based of course, except that it is made mainly or exclusively out of barley flour. In addition, it has a high nutritional value; as it is rich in a number of vitamins of the B complex including folic acid and B6. As far as barley rusks are concerned, they are rich in magnesium, selenium, amino acids, fibre, phosphorus, silica, chromium and antioxidants. It has no preservatives but, it does have salt.

It is shaped either in thick wedges, rounds split horizontally in the middle, or into smaller crouton bites. Mind your teeth though, rusks are quite hard and must be softened with either water, wine, olive oil or broth before eating.

A secret for the best dakos you’ve ever had: sprinkle water on the rusks in order to soften them before adding the tomatoes. Make sure you use ripe, juicy tomatoes, grated over the rusks so it absorbs all the juice. Season and drizzle with some evoo. Finish the dish with crumbled feta or mizithra cheese (or a mix of both), a generous drizzle of evoo, some wild Greek oregano, Kalamata olives, capers or kritamo, if desired.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

But don’t limit yourself to dakos: add your rusks to salads and soups for volume, enjoy them with delicious yoghurt, a sprinkle of sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil, great with a fried/ poached egg as well, a classic when combined with cheese or charcuterie; a product that is wise to keep in your pantry, always.

Find our Cretan barley rusks  at Borough Market and start your delicious story from there.

Learn the classic Dakos Salad recipe.

Photo credit: Psilakis N.& M., Kastanas I., O politismos tis elias-To elaiolado, Karmanor, 2003.