This week we’ve got a very summery rice salad for you. It is great for picnics or barbecues, makes for a delicious lunch or light dinner and makes use of July’s seasonal vegetables that we so love.

This rice salad with various variations of vegetables, and with a mustard-olive oil-lemon dressing is a classic in Greek households. In my family we always prepare it on Clean Monday (the day which marks the beginning of lent in Greece), along with taramosalata. Then we use spring vegetables, so I’ve been very excited for this summer take on a family classic.

In this recipe, we used our Carolina rice, which comes from the area of Grevena in the northern part of Greece. Carolina rice is high in amylopectin (starch), making it the perfect ingredient for a creamy risotto or a rice pudding. But here, we’ve rinsed it well, so that we can use it as our base for this summer salad. For our dressing we’ve used a very special oil, made from semi-ripe olives crushed with fresh lemongrass and tarragon. It has an especially fresh flavour and intense aroma, pairing perfectly with our summer vegetables. This salad is great as is, but you can also add some grilled chicken or prawns if you prefer.

Serves 2
100g Carolina rice
1.5 cups of water
250g cherry tomatoes
1 large cucumber
1 small tub of Amfissa green olives
1 lemon, zest and 1 tbsp juice
1 tsp mustard
2 tbsp olive oil with lemongrass & tarragon
dried spearmint (to taste)
salt, pepper (to taste)

Rinse the rice thoroughly, until the water runs clear. Place the rice and 1.5 cups of water in a medium-sized pot and over medium heat. Cook, covered, for around 20 minutes until all the water has been absorbed. Rinse under cold water and set aside.

Cut your cherry tomatoes in half and the cucumber in bite-sized pieces. In a large bowl whisk together the lemon zest and juice, mustard, olive oil with lemongrass & tarragon and spearmint. Add the rice to your bowl, along with your tomatoes, cucumber and olives, and gently toss everything together. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve cold or at room temperature.

 


Greek Easter is around the corner, and we are now in the final week of Lent. Beginning on Clean Monday (yes with taramosalata!), during these the 40 days prior to Easter, Greeks are invited to abstain from all animal products. Grains and pulses slowly cooked with extra virgin olive oil take centre stage and baked delicacies with tahini (like the tahinopita we made a couple of weeks ago) are prepared. Spring vegetables like peas (here with olive oil and lemon) or spinach (think of spanakopita) are everywhere, and are always part of the menu. For this final week of Lent, we’ve used one of our favourite spring ingredients, wild garlic and we’ve put together a simple yet delicious pesto recipe. As you will read, there’s plenty of garlic in this recipe, so if you want a more subtle flavour, you can substitute add some parsley instead.

For this pesto, we’ve also used our product of the month: pistachios. Greek pistachios are renowned for their unbeatable rich flavour, beautiful pink exterior, and vibrant green kernels, and these pistachios, with PDO status, are completely raw and unsalted with an exquisite taste and texture.

Makes one jar

50g raw pistachios
50g wild garlic leaves (or a mixture of wild garlic and parsley)
100ml olive oil
zest from 1 lemon
1-2tbsp lemon juice
fine sea salt (to taste)

Roughly chop the wild garlic leaves and add to a pestle and mortal or a blender. Add the pistachios, and half of the olive oil and blend everything together until chunky. Slowly add the remaining olive oil, pulsing slowly.

Add the lemon zest and juice and season with salt. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

If you have time, let this pesto rest for a few hours, so that the flavours develop. Serve with pasta, your favourite grains or roasted vegetables. Alternatively, add a tablespoon to a bowl of soup, or simply add in your salads or serve on top of toast!


Tahinopita, literally meaning “tahini pie” is a well-loved Cypriot sweet bread/cake, traditionally eaten during Lent. Marianna, who is half Cypriot, grew up with tahinopita, be it from the neighbourhood bakery, or home-made by her mother and aunts. I, on the other hand did not, as tahinopita was not part of my culinary universe.

So when I was researching for this recipe I was, I must confess, not so enthusiastic about it. In its many versions, it read like a sweet bread with sweet tahini, which is a much loved combination, but nothing more than that.

Well. Let me tell you, I was standing in my kitchen on a Sunday afternoon, fragrant smells of cinnamon, mahleb and cloves all around me, tasting perhaps one of the most delicious baked goods I’ve ever made.

The recipe is quite straightforward. You make the dough and the filling and then put them together. There are various ways to do so, and you can have a look at this video which is quite helpful. There’s also a much simpler way, which you can find here and which we used. It is very similar to making cinnamon rolls.

We got inspired by Georgina Hayden’s recipe who uses carob molasses in the filling and we absolutely loved the idea!

For the dough
350g flour
½ tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp aromatic spices such as mahleb, mastiha, vanilla
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 sachet dried yeast (7g)
275ml lukewarm water

For the filling
200g tahini
125g white sugar
3 tbsp carob molasses
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
3 tbsp olive oil
3tbsp water

To serve
wild flower honey (optional)

Preheat the oven to 160C.

First make the dough. Add the yeast to a jug with the lukewarm water and let it stand for a couple of minutes. In a large bowl, sieve together the flour, baking soda, and all the spices. Add the yeast/water mixture and using a fork bring everything together. Transfer your dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until you have an elastic dough, around 10min. Dust your bowl with some flour and return the dough to your bowl. Let it rest in a warm place while you prepare the filling, around 15min.

To make the filling, gently whisk together the tahini, sugar, carob molasses, spices, olive oil and water. You should have a thick-but-not-too-thick paste. Set aside.

Roll out the dough into a rectangle, around 2-3mm thick. Spread the filling on top. Then roll up the dough, cut in thick pieces, turn them on their side (like you would do with cinnamon rolls), and gently push them down, so that you have a small, round tahinopitas, resembling cookies. Alternatively, you can follow the traditional way: Fold the dough like an envelope, so that you have two layers of dough, with the filling in between. Roll up the dough and twist it around like a cheese stick. Roll it like a snail.

Place them in a baking sheet covered with greaseproof paper and bake in the oven at 160C for approx. 20minutes.

Remove from the oven and drizzle with honey, if using. Enjoy!


April is here! The days are now officially longer (thank you daylight savings), and the weather is warm and sunny. This month we are getting ready for Greek Easter. Over the next few weeks, we will share with you traditional Greek recipes. We invite you to join us, cook with us and celebrate Greek Easter.

Easter Sunday is a day of celebration. Families and friends gather around the table, eating lamb, traditionally roasted on a spit. There are eggs died with red dye (watch this space for a how-to!). There’s also this lettuce and dill salad. Lettuce is in season in spring, and alongside dill make for a very refreshing side dish. Lots of vinegar and spring onions make this salad the perfect pairing to lamb. In my family we never add salt to the Easter salad, and we make it quite vinegary. You can add salt and reduce the vinegar to 1.5 tbsps if you prefer.

Serves 6

1 very large lettuce or 2 medium ones
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 large bunch of dill
6 spring onions
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp sweet wine vinegar
salt (optional, to taste)

Finely cut the lettuce and add it in a bowl with cold water and ½ cup of red wine vinegar. This will both clean the lettuce, and according to some will add some more acidity to the salad. Drain well.

Place the lettuce in a large bowl.

Finely slice the spring onions and finely chop the dill. Add to your bowl.

Add the olive oil and vinegar, season with salt (if using) and mix everything together.

Serve with more vinegar and olive oil if desired.


Today is Clean Monday in Greece! Clean Monday marks the beginning of Lent. As such, foods eaten on this day prepare us for the 40-day fast which follows. Taramosalata is traditionally eaten, along with fava, fresh salads, the few amongst other classic dishes, which of course include halva.

We also eat lagana, a bread especially made for the day. It is a flat, oval bread, sprinkled with lots of sesame, usually made with flour and yeast or sourdough starter. Today we have a very interesting version of this recipe. We are making a lagana with no yeast and with tahini. The recipe comes from the monks in the monastery of St Nectarios in Phocis, in central Greece and appeared in Gastronomos magazine. As we read, yeast and sourdough symbolise rebirth and reproduction, so in some monasteries these are omitted during Lent. Expect something that resembles a flatbread, but quite dense and wholesome with the addition of tahini.

300g all-purpose flour
200ml lukewarm water
1 tsp salt
2 tsp tahini
50g sesame, plus more for sprinkling

In a large bowl place the tahini and water and whisk together. Add the salt, sesame and flour and knead for a few minutes until you have an elastic dough.

Roll it out in an oval shape, around 5-7mm high and transfer to a baking tray covered with greaseproof paper. Place it somewhere warm and let it rest for a few hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven at 190C. Sprinkle the lagane with water and sesame and cook for 40 minutes until golden.

Serve with plenty of taramosalata and fava!


This month, we begin Lent with taramosalata, as we give a warm embrace to the women who have guided us into becoming who we are. We also cook for Ukraine.

There is always great complexity in the making of any nation and its identity, and we will always be compassionate to others. People carry their own histories and stories and we must respect and care for all. But one thing is clear: we stand against warfare.

We support Alissa Timoshkina and Olia Hercules in #CookForUkraine with a recipe that felt close to our hearts. This split pea & bread soup (kuleshnyk) is adapted from Olia’s book “Summer Kitchens: Recipes and reminiscences from every corner of Ukraine”. We loved adding more olive oil and swapping the bread with dakos rusks. We hope you enjoy making it and find solace in its comforting smell.

This hearty stew, which we shared with our loved ones, is a reminder that living in peace is something to be celebrated. So join us as we cook together, get involved in ways that feel close to our hearts, and hope for freedom, justice, democracy and peace in the world around us. Read more in this week’s newsletter and follow this link to learn more about Cook For Ukraine and how to donate.

Serves 4-6

2 medium onions
1 large carrot
1 large parsnip
4 cloves of garlic
2tbsp olive oil, plus more for serving
2tbsp tomato paste
Dried thyme (to taste)
200g fava (split yellow peas)
100g dakos rusks
Dried oregano (to serve)

Peel and dice the onions, carrot and parsnips. Finely slice the garlic. In a medium-sized saucepan and over medium heat add the olive oil and your vegetables, but not the garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook until tender and caramelised, around 20 minutes. Add a splash of water if needed.

Once your vegetables are caramelised, add the garlic and cook for two-three minutes. Add the tomato paste and thyme, and cook for 5 more minutes. Add the fava and 2lt of water. Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, until the fava is cooked and the vegetables are tender, for an hour or so.

Crush the dakos rusks and add them to your pot. Cook for 5 more minutes. Serve with oregano and plenty of olive oil.


Lentil soup is a classic Greek dish. Every Greek household has its own version. My mother makes it in its simplest form, simply boiling lentils with plenty of garlic. Marianna’s mother adds onions, carrots and celery (and it is this recipe that we have for you today). But no matter what vegetables one chooses for this soup, there is one ingredient that all Greek lentil soups include: bay leaves. These fragrant leaves give a unique aroma, with complex herbal and slightly floral notes. They turn our lentils into a truly comforting meal. Our bay leaves are organic and wild, and hand picked from the mountains of Epirus, in North West Greece.

We’re serving this soup with our 18 extra virgin olive oil (surprisingly our apple oil works great here!) and plenty of vinegar. It is great eaten hot, but keeps well, so it also makes for a great lunch the following day.

Serves 10

150ml olive oil
2 onions
4-5 medium carrots
2 sticks of celery
2 tbsp tomato puree
1kg lentils
4 garlic cloves (plus more if you love garlic)
2-3 bay leaves
5lt water or vegetable stock
salt, pepper (to taste)
18C olive oil (to serve)
red wine vinegar (to serve)

Finely chop your onion, carrot and celery stick. Peel the garlic and leave whole.

In a medium-sized pot add the chopped vegetables and garlic, along with the olive oil. Gently cook over medium heat for a few minutes until tender. Add the tomato puree and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add the lentils, bay leaves and water or stock.

Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to medium. Cook for 45 minutes, until the lentils are tender.

Serve hot, with more olive oil and plenty of vinegar.

 


We are now well into January and the holidays feel like a distant memory. Most of us are getting back to work, and to our usual routines. So this week, we’ve decided to make something sweet, to brighten up our days. This recipe is also vegan and sugar-free, and it is our way of saying that such food that may fall further away than what we’re used to eating can be good for our bodies, filling, fulfilling and delicious!

This is an unusual recipe, as it uses succulent dried fruit and Metaxa, the unique Greek amber spirit to create a luscious jam. The original recipe is by the Greek pastry chef Stelios Parliaros, but we’ve adapted it using two types of fruit and our apple oil to finish!

It is perfect on toast with some mature cheddar on top, great in your porridge, but also makes for a wonderful addition to your cheese platters. It is a great glaze for roast pork, or topping for your baked sweet potatoes or squash.

Makes 1 large jar

200g dried apricots
200g dried cherries
120ml Metaxa 12*
40 ml water, plus 100ml water, divided
3 tbsp apple oil

Cut the dried apricots in quarters. Place them in a medium-sized bowl, along with the cherries, metaxa and 40ml of water. Leave overnight to soak.

The following day, place them in a medium-sized pot and over low heat. Add the 100ml of water and simmer, stirring occasionally for around 15-30min, or until the jam is set. You can check by placing a tablespoon of the jam on a place, let it cool down a bit, then run your finger though it. The line created by your finger should stay clear and the jam should not run back to fill the gap.

Remove from the heat, let it cool down and add the apple oil. Place in a large jar and keep in the fridge.


Happy New Year! Whether it’s new-year-new-us, or new-year-old-us, we are extremely happy to be getting back to cooking wholesome, simple meals. We very much enjoyed the extravagant Christmas and New Year’s lunches and dinners, but there is something really comforting in simple foods that feel good for our bodies.

So we are kicking off 2022 with a much loved recipe.

Black eye beans cooked with greens (usually spinach) is a classic dish in Greek cuisine. Our small black eye beans are harvested every year in organic farms in northern Greece. They are also perfect simply boiled and served with herbs and plenty of lemon. Here, we’ve kept it simple, using just a bit of onion and a bay leaf to flavour the dish. You can use spinach or any other seasonal greens that you prefer. This dish can also be served hot or at room temperature and makes for a wonderful lunch the following day. If you’ve been following this blog, then you’ll know how much we love such versatile dishes.

So from all of us at Oliveology, have a healthy, happy New Year, filled with delicious food and your loved ones!

Serves 2
150g black eye beans
1 bay leaf
1 large onion
2 tbsp olive oil
200g spinach leaves
salt, pepper (to taste)

Place your beans in a medium-sized pot with fresh water. Add the bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium, cover and let the beans cook for 30’, until tender but not mushy. Drain and set aside.

Finely chop your onion.

In a large skillet, and over medium-low heat, gently fry the onion with the olive oil, until transluscent, around 5 minutes.

Add the cooked beans and spinach leaves and stir everything together, adding a few splashes of water.
Season with salt and pepper.

Cook everything together for 10-15 minutes, until the beans are tender and the spinach is wilted.

Serve hot or at room temperature.


Making gingerbread men was one of the most fun baking sessions with little Harry and yiayia Philippa. We used olive oil instead of butter and grape molasses to reduce the sugar needed. The result was truly amazing and the feedback a success from all ages. Check our Instagram post for this super fun child friendly activity 🙂

Makes approximately 20 cookies.

Cookie dough

400g flour
100g brown sugar
120ml grape molasses
80ml extra virgin olive oil
1 large egg
2-3 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt

Icing (optional) 
350g icing sugar
4 tbs of lemon juice

 

Method

Preheat oven to 170ºF and line your baking trays with parchment paper or you can use silicone baking mats.

In one bowl whisk together flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl mix well and bid together brown sugar, molasses, egg, and olive oil until creamy. You can use a blender or mix by hand. It worked fine by hand. Gradually add flour mixture into liquid mixture and beat until dough starts to form together. Gently knead the dough into a ball.

Olive oil cookie dough is sticky, so you can put your dough in the fridge for an hour prior to rolling out.
Alternatively you can also use two sheets of parchment paper to carefully roll out your dough until approximately 1-cm thick. I did both of the steps above and worked out perfect!

Using cookie cutters, cut into fun shapes. Bake for 10 -12 minutes depending on the size and how crunchy you like them. These cookies are naturally brown because of the molasses and won’t brown further with baking. If you bake them for too long, you will have firm, crisp cookies. We like ours slightly softer than crunchy.

When you remove from the oven transfer on a cooling rack.

Serve as is or decorate with icing.
For the icing simply add the lemon juice into the icing sugar until it becomes firm and spreadable. Then pipe the icing on the cookies to decorate.

Store in airtight container for at least 2 weeks.