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.


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!

 

 


January is in full swing, with gloomy wet weather (which however the writer of this blog post happens to adore). January is the month when we all decide we will take better care of ourselves. With the feasting of the holidays now way past us, we make promises to eat healthier, better. What healthier and better means may differ for each of us. For us at Oliveolology it is eating fresh vegetables, food made with care, good olive oil.

But you know, you have to have exciting flavours too. So this week we are playing with one very special ingredient. Kalamata olives with orange and herbs. These olives are marinated in orange juice, zest and wild aromatic herbs from our farm. Try to imagine the meatiness of the kalamata olives together with the citrusy orange. Absolutely delicious.

And what these olives pair perfectly with? Beetroot! You know we love this vegetable and there is something very satisfying to roasted beetroot. Remember our beetroot dip? How about last year’s lentil and beetroot salad?

To bring everything together we’ve selected kale and our organic goat’s cheese.

Serves two as side or one as main

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 sweet red wine vinegar
1 grape molasses
1 bowl/plate/bunch/bag of kale leaves
2 large beetroot
½ tub orange olives
¼-1/2 pack goat cheese
pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 200C. Scrub your beetroot under running water. Wrap each one in tinfoil and place them in a baking tray. Roast them until cooked through, around an hour.
In the meantime, wash and tear the kale leaves into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Whisk together the olive oil, sweet vinegar and grape molasses, salt.
Once cooked, remove the beetroot from the oven. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, unwrap them and using your fingers peel the skin off. You can of course leave the skin on. Slice the beetroot or cut them in wedges. Gently toss together beetroot, kale, orange olives, dressing. Lay on a plate or bowl (we used a chopping board). Crumble the cheese on top.


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.


As you know we love salads that ain’t exactly salads. By that we mean that they go beyond leafy greens and dressing. Ingredients such as bulgur (and dried prunes!), dakos, favaki or lentils form the basis for colourful, filling dishes. These non-salads are great for a light dinner, and perfect for lunch. If you have leftovers, some of our readers also have them for breakfast, with the addition of a couple of fried eggs. Try it, it actually works!

This week, with fall in its full swing, we will be using black-eyed peas. These are very popular in the southern United States, cooked with pork for added flavour. In Greece things are, as you may have guessed, simpler. Greeks enjoy these legumes boiled and served simply with olive oil, lemon and a bit of salt. You see, Greek cuisine is all about simplicity in flavours.

And so are we at Oliveology. However, we will of course add a few more ingredients. Vegetables and herbs. And of course, keep the olive oil and lemon. The secret for this recipe is to boil the black-eyed peas in salted water. So that when you drain them, your main ingredient will be very flavourful on its own. Most of us usually season our dishes in the end. But this trick here makes all the difference.

For this salad, we recommend using parsley. However, you can use whatever herb you prefer. Dill would work great, and so would mint.

Serves 2 for main or 4 as a side
200g black-eyed peas
1tbsp coarse salt
1 bay leaf
½ cucumber
15 cherry tomatoes
zest of one lemon
1 small bunch of parsley
Plenty of olive oil (to serve)
Lemon juice (to serve)

In a medium-sized pot place the black-eyed peas, salt and bay leaf. Boil until tender. Strain and let cool.

Slice your cherry tomatoes in half. Dice your cucumber. Finely chop your parsley. Zest the lemon.

In a large bowl mix the black-eyed peas, tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, lemon zest. You can serve your salad at room temperature or cold. Before serving, drizzle with plenty of olive oil and lemon juice.


The question of what to have for lunch is always present. Often you can’t be bothered with turning on the stove. You only crave for something cold you can have straight from the fridge, or at least something that you can eat at room temperature.

However, the all mighty green salad, no matter how you dress it up, well…it is still a green salad. Something that, let’s be honest, might fill your belly but sometimes not your soul.

Here is where pasta salads come in. We are still not sure if the word salad is ideal for these types of dishes. Maybe the word salad is used because pasta salads are consumed cold. Maybe it’s used because pasta salads are the lighter cousins of pasta. No one knows really. But one thing is certain. Pasta salads are the way to kick off the series of foods we have for lunch. Yes, pasta salads lie between pasta and salad. The recipe below it is not a warm bowl of penne with tomato sauce. It is not a gem lettuce and avocado salad. It’s something in between. And this is exactly what makes it even more interesting. This recipe is inspired by the Greek chef Chrysanthos Karamolegos, who originally created this combination of flavours.

And we’re making our own mayonnaise for this one, give it a try!

Feeds 4 for lunch

2 spring onions
5 tbsp red wine vinegar
1tbsp sugar
½ cucumber
½ pack zea penne (read more on zea pasta here)
1 gem lettuce
1 avocado
5 leaves basil
3 tbsp mayonnaise
3tbsp olive oil
salt
pepper

Finely chop the spring onions. In a bowl mix the red wine vinegar with the sugar, until sugar resolves. Add the spring onions and let them marinate until you prepare everything else. This will give them a soft sweetness and acidity.

Boil your pasta in salted water. Once al dente, strain and rinse under cold water. Cut the cucumber in small pieces (you can choose between half moons, cubes, whatever you prefer really). Cut the avocado in cubes. Finely shred the lettuce and basil leaves.

Mix the mayonnaise and olive oil, adding water to dilute the mixture until you have a liquidy sauce.

Toss together the pasta, cucumber, avocado, lettuce, spring onions (removed from sugar/vinegar mixture), basil, dressing. You can use the leftover sugar/vinegar mixture if you feel more acidity is needed. Season with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature or cold if you prefer.

by Nafsika


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.

 


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.

Ingredients:
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?

Here is what you need for the recipe

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!