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.


This week we are cooking asparagus again! You see, the beauty of waiting all year long for a vegetable or fruit is that you can then enjoy it to the fullest. This week we have decided to make something simple. As we are busy preparing for our upcoming cooking workshop in mid-May, and many new exciting things for this autumn, we often find ourselves very tired at the end of the day.

On days when the idea of cooking something elaborate for dinner seems absurd and you come home late from work (or worse, you have more work to do like we often do), this simple recipe will make you happier. Making it only takes a few minutes, enough to relax you from the day’s stress.

For this one we’ve used St Isidoros cheese, a smooth and intense goat’s milk cheese, made on the island of Naxos and matured for 400 days. Come by Borough Market to taste it!

So here we go, ingredients and recipe for two people:

4 eggs
½ bunch asparagus
a couple of pinches of dried thyme
1 small leek
3 tbsp olive oil
100g St Isidoros cheese, grated
salt, pepper

Turn on your oven to grill.
Finely slice the leek. Remove the woody ends from the asparagus and cut each in half.
Blanch the asparagus in boiling water for two minutes.
In an oven proof skillet gently fry the leeks with the olive oil until softened.
Set aside and sprinkle half of the cheese.
Mix the eggs, salt, pepper and the rest of the cheese in a bowl, whisking with a fork.
Pour the egg mixture on top of the leeks and scatter the asparagus.
Place it under the grill for 5 minutes, or until the eggs are set.

We hope that by now you have relaxed. Set the table and serve with a simple green salad.


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!

 

 


How was your Easter? We are all now well rested from the long weekend last week and getting ready for our own Greek Easter. Easter in Greece is one of the most important holidays. Starting from Clean Monday, the days of lent prior to Easter prepare us all for this week. Going to church, making sweet tsoureki and painting eggs are only a few of the traditions we uphold during those days.

On Easter Sunday, families gather together for the Easter lunch. Lamb is served, alongside a simple salad with lettuce, spring onions and plenty of dill. Then, each family has its own additions. Some will prepare pies, others will have various types of meat. At Oliveology we always go for tzatziki. This refreshing dip balances perfectly the intensity of lamb. And we make ours with plenty of garlic of course.

So, in the classic recipe the main ingredients are yogurt, cucumber, garlic and dill. But we are going to take this one step further this Easter. Marianna’s very own family recipe swaps the cucumber for raw beetroot, giving this pink tzatziki sweetness and crunch.

For a large bowl you will need

500g yogurt
3 cloves of garlic, minced to a paste (if you love garlic then feel free to add more)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil plus more to serve
1 large beetroot
3 tbsp. fresh dill, plus more to serve
salt  (to taste)

Grate the beetroot. Place in a bowl, squeezing away any excess liquid (you can use the liquid for smoothies, soups or cocktails). You can skip this step if you prefer a less thick tzatziki. Add the yogurt and dill and stir well. In a separate bowl whisk together the olive oil, vinegar and garlic. Combine the two. Mix until all flavours have blended together. Taste and season with salt. Serve with plenty of dill and olive oil.

 


Well, after a weekend of snow here in London, we might have been a bit hasty celebrating spring last time. But the sun is shining again, so let’s just wait a bit and see, maybe it’s finally here!

This week we’ve got a salad for you. I’m not sure recipes like the one below should be called salads (remember, we’ve had this discussion when we made our pasta salad last spring). But anyhow, these are dishes that feel healthy, are eaten without making you want to fall sleep after and give you energy to get through the day. Just like salads. Yet more filling.

The writer of this blog post grew up hating our main ingredient, gigantes beans, cooked in the traditional fasolada (bean soup). But things change as one grows older, and often we see the same things very differently. And all of us at Oliveology love discovering new ways to cook familiar ingredients.

These beans become soft and buttery when cooked. They are, I must admit, so flavourful that they can stand on their own. However, we’ve added a few things to brighten up their smoothness. Think of roasted broccoli and green peppers, zingy lemon zest and juice and our favourite lemon and herbs kalamata olives. So let’s get started before the weather turns cold again.

1 small head of broccoli
1 large green pepper
a few pinches of dried thyme
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
salt, pepper

100g gigantes beans
vegetable stock or herb stalks, vegetable scraps
salt, pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
zest of 1/2 lemon
½ tub lemon olives

The night before soak your beans in plenty of water.

Cut your broccoli into florets. Use the whole vegetable, just cut the stem in smaller pieces. Cut the pepper into large chunks. In a bowl toss broccoli, green pepper, thyme, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread onto a baking tray and bake at 180 for 30 min or until broccoli is charred and soft.

Place your beans in a medium sized pot, cover with new water and vegetable scraps or stock. Bring to a boil and simmer until beans are tender, around two hours. Season with salt after the beans have softened up.

Drain and let the beans cool. In a salad bowl toss together beans, broccoli, green pepper, olive oil, lemon juice and zest and lemon olives. Taste and add more salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy in the sun. Or snow, who knows anymore?


Well, spring is officially here! You may be reading this on every blog post for the next month, but bare with me, I absolutely love spring. How do we know that spring is here? Well, more flowers, much more light, warmer weather and…wild garlic!

I first encountered these fascinating leaves here in London. They have a bright green colour and an intense garlic flavour. Since I discovered them at Borough Market, they mark the beginning of spring for me. And what’s more interesting is that you can find them only for a few weeks in spring. All of us at Oliveology love it when some foods appear for a very short time at the market. We always try to eat seasonally, and anticipating unique vegetables, fruit or leaves like wild garlic is quite exciting. So when Marianna brought me a bunch of these last Saturday, I knew the time for one of my favourite things (and seasons) was here.

What does one do with these aromatic leaves? Well, garlicky pesto of course! You may remember our pistachio pesto from last year, or the sun dried tomato pesto from last fall. This spring we are making wild garlic pesto!

For this recipe we used walnuts and kefalotyri cheese. As for herbs, well, even though basil is traditionally used for pesto, we went for parsley. Its hebry notes blend perfectly with the wild garlic. But also a large bunch of parsley is much more affordable than these small bunches of basil you find at London markets. Now, if you are those lucky people who have pots with herbs then feel free to use whichever combination you prefer!

For a large jar of very garlicky pesto you will need:

½ cup wild garlic leaves
2 cups parsley leaves (save the stalks for stock)
1 cup walnuts
1 cup olive oil
kefalotyri cheese (optional)

Here is what you need for the recipe

If you prefer a subtle garlic flavour, then I suggest you halve the quantity of wild garlic leaves. But you know, a very garlicky pesto is better. So, in a blender or with a pestle and mortar place the herbs and walnuts. Sure, you could toast the walnuts first. But don’t. Trust me, these walnuts can proudly stand on their own. Raw. Blend, adding slowly the extra virgin olive oil until your walnuts are crushed and combined with the herbs. Season with salt and pepper and add as much cheese as you like.