This week we’ve got for you a very traditional Greek recipe. Arakas (which means “peas” in the Greek language), is a dish most Greek households make regularly. As with most Greek vegetarian dishes, it entails slowly cooking vegetables, in olive oil and water, adding herbs and lemon or tomato. There are of course as many recipes for this, as nearly each household has its own. But this one we are making for you today is special.

It is my mother’s. We always love sharing our family’s recipes with you. Remember Mrs Kalliopi’s magic dough? Yum! Katerina, my loving mother, always manages to cook dishes that are airy, soft, comforting. For these classic Greek dishes, she uses a few simple ingredients. She never uses high heat and takes her time in stewing the vegetables, stirring every so often and then sitting in our kitchen, by the pot. It is as if the food needs constant care. And indeed it does. She is a wonderful cook, you see.

Her recipe for Arakas is one of my favourite ones, one that we always make in spring. So last week, when I visited her, we made it together, so that we can share it with you.

Serves 2

350g fresh peas
4 spring onions (only the white part and a little bit of the green)
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice, plus more for serving
1 small bunch of dill
salt, pepper (to taste)

Place the olive oil and spring onions in a medium-sized pot and gently fry over medium heat. Once the onion is soft, add the peas and season with salt and pepper. Stir well, so that your peas are coated in the olive oil.

Add 2 cups of water and bring to the boil. Lower the heat to medium and let the peas simmer, covered for 25min. Taste, add the dill, lemon and more water if needed. Cook for another 15min, or until the peas are soft and the water has reduced into a sauce.

Serve with more lemon juice and dill.


This week we’ve got a very aromatic spring recipe for you. We are using one of the most seasonal ingredients, rhubarb. The first time I tasted rhubarb was poached, with cinnamon and loads of sugar. I didn’t think much of it. The second time I tasted it, it was raw, thinly sliced, and with a little bit of sugar, just to take the sourness off. It was an intense experience. It tasted like snails in grass. It was fascinating. Indeed, rhubarb is quite unique and stirs up passionate reactions. There are those who love it and those who hate it. We belong in the second category.

The recipe we’ve prepared is quite unique too. We are not using any sugar to sweeten our rhubarb. Just grape molasses and Corinth raisins. What are we making? The most interesting chutney-like creation. It lays somewhere between jam and chutney. You can have it with bread and butter, but also with cheese and oily fish. You can taste the sweetness of the raisins, the depth in flavour of the grape molasses, the fruity rhubarb notes and there is still a hint of sourness still remaining. And, like last year’s poached pears, we’ve paired these three ingredients with fragrant spices, just to give you a slightly more complex creation.

Makes 2 jars

500g rhubarb
100g Corinth raisins
170g grape molasses
300ml water
¼ tsp cinnamon
10 cardamom pods
¼ tsp ground cloves
5 black peppercorns

Cut the rhubarb in 5cm pieces. Place the rhubarb in a pot, along with the raisins, grape molasses, water and spices. The liquid should just cover the rhubarb. Bring to the boil and then immediately lower the heat. Let it simmer, uncovered, for 30-40 min, stirring occasionally or until the rhubarb has soften, the raisins have soak up the juices and all the flavours have blended together.

Keep in jars in the fridge and serve on toast, with graviera or manouri cheese and oily fish.


Greek Easter is here! It is one of our favourite holidays of the year. Following 40 days of Lent, tomorrow is Easter Sunday, and we are very much looking forward to sitting around the festive table with friends and family.

Every year, we paint red eggs, bake the traditional tsoureki, have lamb and salads with spring greens and, of course, tzatziki! Remember our pink tzatziki from last year? This week we’re making the classic version for you.

As you surely know, this dip can be enjoyed all year round. It is quite refreshing and goes very well with the Easter lamb. But also it makes for a wonderful addition to vegetarian dishes, sandwiches and salads.

So join us, for a celebration of Greek Easter by making the classic tzatziki recipe tomorrow! And a couple of tips: Make sure to use thick Greek yogurt and to squeeze your cucumber, so that you end up with a thick, creamy tzatziki.

500g Greek yogurt
1 large cucumber
1 small bunch of dill
1 clove of garlic
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
salt, to taste
dill, olive oil (to serve)

Grate the cucumber. Squeeze it to remove excess liquid. Finely chop the dill. Mince the garlic with salt. Mix everything together and add the vinegar. Serve with more dill and olive oil.

 

Happy Greek Easter everyone!!

 


Spring is officially here! The weather is warmer, the sun is shining and the flowers have blossomed. Spring for us at Oliveology is often the time for new beginnings. Try something new. Start something new. Plant a seed that will soon blossom into something beautiful.

For us, it is also often about discovering new, seasonal ingredients or techniques. This week we are cooking with fresh artichokes. You have, of course, the option of using our marinated artichoke hearts. But in the spirit of trying something new, we suggest you get your hands on the fresh ones.

Remember our artichokes with anchovy vinaigrette from a few years back? Delicious! And how about some Greek classics?

Lida, our resident chef, had prepared this traditional recipe for you a few years back.

Artichoke hears with peas, carrots and potatoes. Absolutely delicious! In our Vegan Cooking Class at the end of April, she will be making this recipe again, also showing you how to prepare fresh artichokes. As above, in the spirit of trying new things, book yourself a space – we’ve got very few left!

Inspired by spring, this week we have for you a recipe of artichokes cooked in white wine with wild garlic, capers and lemon olives. A perfect dish to have as a main or as a meze sitting under the sun.

Serves two as a starter

3 tbsp olive oil
5 fresh artichoke hearts
2 cups of Gavalas Santorini Blue Assyrtiko
1 bulb of fresh garlic
½ tub kalamata olives with lemon and herbs
1 tbsp capers
smoked salt, pepper (to taste)

Place the olive oil in a pot and over high heat. Place the artichoke hearts facing down and fry, until the edges are brown and charred, about 2-3 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and season with the smoked salt and pepper. Add the fresh garlic, two cups of white wine, and one cup of water.

Cook for 30 minutes covered and 15 minutes uncovered, until the artichokes are soft and the remaining liquid has formed a thick sauce. In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the olives and capers.

Serve with crusty bread and some Assyrtiko wine.

 


This week, we’ve got a very luscious, spring recipe for you. We are using one of our favourite ingredients, artichoke hearts! Our marinated artichoke hearts come from the area of Kyparissia in Peloponnese. They are picked, cleaned and placed in glass jars with leeks, olive oil and sunflower oil. They are an ideal addition to your tarts, or as part of an antipasti dish.

Inspired by the much loved artichoke-spinach combination, this recipe is perfect for a cosy dinner for those days when the sun refuses to shine, and we still feel that we are more in winter than in spring. So what are we making? Oven baked wholemeal penne with spinach, artichokes, creamy Greek yogurt and galomyzithra cheese-all baked in the oven. And as always, it is really easy to make!

If you love artichokes as much as I do, then have a look at our Vegan Cooking Workshop in April, where you will learn how to prepare and cook fresh artichokes!

Serves 4

1 leek
1 jar artichoke hearts
200g galomuzithra
100g yogurt
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 cups fresh spinach
150g wholemeal penne
75g graviera cheese

Finely chop the leek and place in a large bowl. Drain the artichokes, reserving the oil and add to the bowl. In a non-stick frying pan, gently heat up the spinach, until just wilted. You should be left with one cup. Add to the bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix the artichoke oil, galomuzithra and yogurt. Add the garlic. Mix well, adding 3/4 cup of water to dilute. You are to have a thin, creamy sauce. Worry not, the pasta will absorb it.

In an oven-proof casserole dish, place the vegetables, creamy sauce and pasta and toss everything together. Sprinkle some graviera cheese and bake at 180C for 40 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked and the cheese has melted.

 


When I was a kid, every year there was a day when my mum would come to me and my little sister and give us a thin bracelet, made of red and white strings. This is ‘Martis’ (lirerally meaning March), she would say. And with that care in her voice that only mothers carry, she would add: And you should wear it, so that the sun doesn’t burn you.

As a kid, I wasn’t exactly sure how the Martis would protect me from the sun, but in my mind, this day only meant one thing: the beginning of spring, my favourite season. I knew that while wearing it, the days would get longer, the sun would shine brighter and some of my favourite foods (strawberries!) would start to appear at the markets.

Martis is part of folk tradition in Greece and the Balkans, going back for decades. The phrase my mother would use (I learned as an adult), is associated with the often unexpected changes in spring weather, a reminder that one needs to be careful this month. Its colours, red and white carry various symbolisms in different cultures across the region. The ritual of removing it is equally important in Greek tradition. Folk tales say how one has to remove it at the end of March, and hang it on a tree, so that swallows then collect it and use it to create their nests. Another tradition calls for the Martis to be removed at Easter, and to be tied on the leg of the lamb that is being cooked, burning over the open fire.

As an adult, I rarely bothered to actually take two pieces of string and create my own. So when a few years ago, working at our shop at Borough Market, Marianna came and gave us all a Martis, I was presently surprised. And immediately transported back to my childhood, remembering my excitement about spring.

We used to make this with my grandmother, Marianna told me. We would sit across from each other with long white and red strings and twist them tightly. Then we would cut it in pieces and give to the whole family. Unlike me, Marianna has been wearing the Martis every year. And every year, she gets it for all of us at Oliveology.

So this March, join us at Oliveology, in sharing your childhood memories around Martis and celebrate the beginning of spring that is finally here.

 

by Nafsika


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 top 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.


We really love more substantial salads. Salads that have crunchy things, some grains, loads of vegetables. The bulgur-asparagus is one of our favourites. But we wouldn’t say no to a pasta salad either. You see, when the weather is hot these dishes make for the perfect dinner.

For this week’s recipe our inspiration came from our wine tasting event at the end of May. Over the course of a few hours we tasted many fascinating wines and grape varieties from the island of Santorini (including a life changing mavrotragano). But let’s circle back to food. You see, we had some cucumbers left from the wine tasting. I like cucumbers, they are very refreshing and crunchy, a very good combination of characteristics for a vegetable if you ask me.

So this week we have for you a non-grain/grain bowl. For this dish we have swapped the grains for dakos barley croutons. Trust me, these little croutons make you feel full, body and soul. Dakos rusks are delicious. If you haven’t tried our traditional dakos salad, now is the time to do so!

For this week’s recipe we also used our mature 6-month feta cheese, made from sheep’s and goats’ milk and matured in wooden barrels. And yes, this feta cheese was also part of our wine tasting!

Creamy avocado and a light olive oil and red wine vinegar dressing complete this dish. So come by the market and get everything you need for a spring salad less ordinary. Did we say it is also super easy to make?

For 2 people you will need:
1 cup dakos barley croutons
1 medium cucumber, cut in sticks
70g feta cheese
1 large avocado
5tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
salt

In a large bowl place the dakos croutons and cucumber. Cut the feta cheese in cubes or crumble. Slice the avocado. Add feta and avocado to your bowl. Drizzle the olive oil and vinegar. Toss well so that all ingredients are mixed together and coated in olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt.


Yes, we’re cooking again with spinach this week! Did you make our spinach and rice stew last week? This week we felt it’s time we did something less traditional. Recipe books call these little thingies that we are making this week gnocchi or dumplings. We are not sure which word we prefer, but they do look like golf balls, hence the name on the title.

We are using fresh spinach from the market and our two favourite cheeses. Manouri, a creamy semi-hard white cheese and kefalotyri, a more piquant yellow cheese. Both are made from goats’ and sheep’s milk, from two small producers in Greece. We love them both equally. Manouri adds silkiness to the balls and kefalotyri adds the necessary saltiness.

For two people you will need:

400g of spinach (leaves only)
100g manouri cheese, grated
50g kefalotyri cheese, grated
2 egg yolks
60g all-purpose flour
black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil (to serve)

Blanch the spinach in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain, running the leaves under cold water. Squeeze the spinach with your hands, so that all the water is removed. You should be left with a couple of handfuls of spinach. Finely chop. Squeeze again to remove any excess water.

Place your spinach in a large bowl. Add the manouri cheese and the kefalotyri. Using a fork mix all ingredients together. In a separate bowl break the egg yolks. Add them to the spinach-cheese mixture and stir well. Slowly add the flour. You should have a slightly sticky dough. Add black pepper to taste.

Place it in the fridge for an hour. It will become firmer.

In the meantime, set up for cooking: Place a large pot with salted water over medium high heat and bring to the boil.

Once the dough is cold and firm, using your hands shape round balls. In batches, drop them in the boiling water but be careful not to overcroud the pot. The balls will rise to the surface. Once they do, let them swirl there for 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon remove from the pot.

Serve warm, with extra virgin olive oil and more black pepper.

 

 


Yes, it’s spring! After our weeks of asparagus love (did you make our asparagus frittata? How about the bulgur wheat salad?) we were very tempted to cook again with asparagus. But you know, spring has so many other beautiful vegetables. So this week we decided to make a delicious spinach and rice stew! Spanakoryzo, as we call it in Greece, is the simplest yet the most delicious dish. I think the reason is that, as with most Greek recipes, very few ingredients come together, and each shines.

In spanakoryzo, you can taste how the lightly metallic taste of spinach mellows in slow cooking. We paired it with sweet spring onions and leeks (yes, we love it when spring vegetables all come together). In the end, we put loads of dill and squeezed plenty of lemon juice. The aniseed and lemon notes of dill pair perfectly with the warm stew and the lemon brings the sun into your dish.

We used our carolina rice. This is the one we use for our rice puddings. As the rice absorbs all the fragrant juices from the vegetables, its high starch content gives the spanakoryzo a creamier texture.

Serves 4

1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for serving
5 spring onions
1 medium leek
1 large onion
1 kilo fresh spinach
200g Carolina rice
500ml water
1 large bunch of dill, finely chopped
juice of 1 lemon, plus more for serving
salt

Finely chop the spring onions, leek and onion. Finely chop your spinach.

In a large shallow pot, pour the olive oil and over medium low heat gently fry the spring onions, leek and onion until translucent.

Add the spinach and stir until half in volume.

Add the rice and stir until it’s well mixed in. Soon after pour in the water. Stir and season with salt.

Let your stew simmer for 20-30min or until the rice is cooked through.

Turn off the heat, add the dill and lemon juice. Serve with more lemon juice and a generous drizzle of olive oil.