You know, it has been a while since we made something sweet for our blog. And as October has just come to an end, we couldn’t think of a better moment. Weather is getting colder and colder. What makes up for cold weather? Comforting, vibrant, sweet smells.

So how do we go from grey cold weather to a warm house that smells (dare we say) like Christmas?

Walking around the market, we got some lovely local pears. Yes, there are so many varieties to choose from-but wherever you are, go for the variety that’s closer to home. Today we will poach them. But if you’ve been with us for long, you should know by now how we love using grape molasses instead of sugar. Remember our petimezopita cake? Or the vegan mastiha and petimezi cookies? In this specific recipe, grape molasses offer a deeper, more intense flavour. Try it and you’ll know what we mean.

And of course, you need plenty of aromatic, warm spices. Below is our favourite combination, but as always, you can substitute whatever you don’t like. Just keep the pink peppercorns, they add something really unique to your poached pears.

For 5 pears you will need:

5 firm but ripe pears
1lt water
250g grape molasses
½ nutmeg grated
1 cinnamon stick
10 cardamom pods
15 cloves
20 pink peppercorns

Peel the pears, keeping their stalks intact. As you are peeling them, keep them submerged in cold water.

Place the water, grape molasses and all the spices in a small pot. Bring to the boil and immediately turn down the heat. Once the aromatic liquid has warmed up, and the grape molasses have melted, slowly place your pears in the pot. They need to be completely covered by the liquid, so place a small heatproof plate on top of them to keep them in under-water-love. Simmer at low heat for 30-40min, or until pears are soft and the house smells like Christmas.

Remove the pears from the aromatic liquid. You can serve them with the flavoured water, or if you prefer, turn up the heat to reduce it into a syrup. You can also keep it separately and add to your tea or coffee! These pears pair perfectly with Greek yogurt. Enjoy!


This week we are into shapes. What do we mean? Well, let me step back a bit. Autumn is in full swing and here at Oliveology we feel it’s time for soups! As always, we walked around the market and selected delicious seasonal vegetables. Yes, butternut squash of course, it is mid autumn after all! Soups, like all foods, should follow the seasons. If it’s summer, make a roasted tomato soup. If it’s winter, go for a vegan lentil soup. If it’s spring, then sugar snap peas and green beans are your ingredients of choice.

For our soup this week, we used tons of fresh, nutritious vegetables and small white beans. This soup feels very healthy, with its white beans, root vegetables, spinach. And for all our non-vegetarian readers, throw in a beef bone for extra flavour and nutrients.

But you know, soups sometimes can be dull. Let me explain myself. Imagine a perfectly pureed soup. Or a soup where all vegetables are cut in identical, symmetrical cubes. Yes, symmetry is often linked to beauty, but how about we spice it up a bit? Not the soup itself, its appearance. How? By cutting our vegetables in various lovely shapes.

Finally, when it comes to the To Blend or Not To Blend question, this one here goes against last year’s smooth pumpkin soup. Up to you to decide which one is your favourite autumn soup!

So, pour yourself a glass of wine or a cup of hot tea and join me as we prepare this year’s butternut squash soup!

For 6 hungry guests you will need:

6 tbsp olive oil
2 medium carrots
1 small leek
600g butternut squash
2 cloves of garlic
1 onion
2 sticks of celery
2.5 lt of water
200g small white beans
a small bunch of parsley
a small bunch of spinach
salt, black pepper

For the prep:
The night before, soak your beans in cold water. The morning after, drain.

For the chopping:
Peel the carrots and cut in rounds. Cut your leek in rounds as well.
Peel your butternut squash. Scrape out the seeds (you can save them and toast them separately if you want). Cut thick slices of the butternut squash and then each slice in triangles, following the edges that you created when peeling it.
Finely chop your garlic and onion.
Cut the celery in small cubes.
Finely chop the parsley stalks and leaves (but keep separately).

For the soup:
In a large pot over medium-high heat, pour the olive oil. Once heated, add the onions, leek and garlic and stir until translucent. Add the celery, carrots, squash and parsley stalks. Stir until your vegetables begin to caramelise. Add the water and beans and season with salt and black pepper. Bring your soup to a boil, then lower the heat and let it simmer for 2 hours or until beans are soft. A few minutes before serving, add your parsley leaves and spinach.

Serve as is, or with some grated graviera cheese and fresh chilli or pistachio pesto.


Have you noticed how colourful everything seems to be in October? Have a look at people’s outfits around you. Come to the market and see how fruits and vegetables turn autumn into a feast of colours. Maybe we are all competing with the seductive colours of the leaves, as they change to various shades of yellow, brown and purple. Go for a walk around the park, look around you for a few minutes and notice the green grass and the myriads of colours of the leaves. Yes, autumn is indeed full of enchanting colours.

And of course, it’s the time of the year for one of our favourite vegetables: butternut squash. With its bright orange colour and warm, comforting taste, it is the ideal ingredient for an autumn dinner.

Last year we made a comforting pumpkin soup. This year we are feeling a bit more adventurous. Both with flavours and colours for that matter. Think of bright orange butternut squash, red chillies, white feta cheese, dark golden chestnut honey and bright green sage. Can you think of anything better? I think the colours of this tart can proudly compete with the autumn leaves, wouldn’t you say?

This recipe is adapted from epicurious and serves 5:

1 sheet of puff pastry (approx. 20x25cm)
400g butternut squash
a few sage leaves
1 medium red chilli
2 tbsp olive oil + 2 tbsp for frying the sage leaves
30g-50g feta cheese
1 tbsp chestnut honey
salt
pepper

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Lay your puff pastry on top.

Using a sharp knife cut off a few centimetres from the bottom and from the stem end of the squash. Then make one long cut, down the middle from the top to bottom. Scrape out the seeds (you can save them and toast them separately if you want). Slice the butternut squash vertically as fine as you can, so that you have beautiful thin half moons.

Arrange the squash on your puff pastry, gently pressing it down. Overlap the slices, as they will shrink a bit while cooking. Leave a centimetre border. Brush both pastry border and squash slices with the 2tbsp of olive oil. Finely chop half of the chilli and scatter on top of the squash. Season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 30min or until puff pastry is golden and squash is soft and tender.

While your tart is in the oven, slice the rest of your chilli in fine rounds. Using a peeler, create shavings of feta cheese (or crumble it if you can’t be bothered).

In a frying pan heat the remaining 2tbsp of olive oil. Add the sage leaves and fry until crisp, but still bright green. Transfer to a paper towel.

When your tart is ready, remove from the oven. Scatter the remaining chilli, feta cheese and fried sage leaves. Drizzle with chestnut honey. See the colours everywhere?

 


Autumn is the time of the year when I get most..snacky. It could be the cold, slowly preparing us for winter, the gloomy weather, or the fact that most of us are getting busier and busier at this time of the year. But even when I’ve had a good breakfast or lunch, I always feel hungry in between. Hungry is not the right word probably. Most of the time I feel like I need to snack on something. And most of the time I’m craving something sweet.

But you know, usually sweet things make your cravings even bigger. And then you find yourself snacking throughout the entire afternoon. So I am always in search of interesting things to have with my tea or coffee. Like our mastic cookies, the oat bars with chocolate and tahini, or even some plain raisins.

This week, inspired by our home-made hazelnut butter, we are making intense, flavourful energy balls! What are we using? Oats, honey, hazelnut butter, and lovely dried cherries from our Borough Market shop!

This recipe is adapted from Epicurious.

Makes 18-20 small energy balls

50g wild flowers honey
1 generous pinch of ground nutmeg
1 generous pinch of salt
80g creamy hazelnut butter
50g oats
60g coarsely chopped dried cherries

In a large bowl mix honey, hazelnut butter, nutmeg and salt. Add the oats and dried cherries and mix everything together, using a wooden spoon or your fingers.

Taking a teaspoon of the mixture, form small balls. Store in an airtight container and consume throughout the afternoon. Or you know, whenever you get snacky.


The naming of all nut butters is quite clever if you think about it. Peanut butter, almond butter, hazelnut butter. You read these words and immediately your mouth is filled with the creamy taste of roasted nuts. You can almost feel it melting in your mouth, the smell of nuts filling the room.

There are all sorts of nut butters out there. But you know, not all of them are good for you. Read the labels before you buy anything. It’s a nut butter, the only ingredient it should contain is nuts. Maybe a pinch of salt. But nothing else. So next time you go shopping, try to source the nut butter that only has nuts inside.

Or, if you are a bit like us, you can make your own. Seriously, this recipe is very, very simple. Why not give it a try? As with all recipes that consist of few ingredients, you need to get the best quality nuts. We’ve got some lovely hazelnuts at Borough Market, straight from Greece. For a very smooth hazelnut butter, we will remove the skins from the nuts. But between you and I, if you can’t be bothered, just leave them on. This recipe includes roasting them. But again, you can get roasted ones. But as I replied to a friend when she asked why do I bother roasting my nuts for this recipe: can you smell the kitchen? This is why. So go on, give it a try!

For 1 jar you will need

500g raw hazelnuts
a pinch of salt

Preheat your oven at 180C.

Place your hazelnuts on a tray, all in a single layer. Roast for 10-15 min, checking regularly. You need your hazelnuts to have a golden-brown colour. But be careful not to over-roast them, otherwise they will become bitter.

Lay a clean tea towel on your table. Once the hazelnuts are roasted and still very hot, remove them from the tray and place them on your towel. Carefully wrap the towel around the nuts, holding it by its ends with your one hand. With your other hand roll the towel around, so that the hazelnuts grind against each other. After a few minutes, most of the skins will have fallen off, leaving you with lovely golden hazelnuts. If skins still remain you can transfer all your nuts to a clean tea towel and repeat for a few minutes.

Once your hazelnuts are skinless, pulse in a food processor. In the beginning you will have the texture of breadcrumbs for what seems like an eternity. Be patient, it takes only 4-5 minutes of pulsing. And then, magically, you get a smooth, creamy butter! Add a pinch of salt and blend for one last time. Transfer to a sterilized glass jar.


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 https://oliveology.co.uk/asparagus-are-in/)
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


The first chef I worked with once gave me what I consider to be the most valuable advice since. It’s all about the concentration of flavour he had told me, while preparing some greens with minimal water. You see, in home kitchens we are used to boiling ingredients, then getting rid of the water. Along with it goes much of the flavour. I hadn’t realised how important this advice was, until I started experimenting with various recipes. Like this one here. You’ll see what I mean in a bit.

It’s the end of the summer. Fine, the summer is long gone, but let’s pretend it’s still the end of the summer. September can allow us that. But tomatoes are slowly disappearing from the market, giving their place to autumn vegetables. And what better way to say goodbye to a lovely summer, but with a comforting soup. So this week, we take the last ripe tomatoes, roast them in the oven, concentrating their flavour to make a red, velvety soup. Ah, soups are so nice, remember our pumpkin one from last fall? Or our spring one?

The recipe is inspired by Gordon Ramsey’s own (no he was not my chef in case you were wondering).

For 4 servings you will need

1 large red onion
1 clove of garlic
1.5kg of ripe tomatoes, preferably of the same size
5tbsp olive oil
1tsp smoked paprika *
4tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
salt
pepper
500g vegetable stock

Preheat your oven at 200C.

Finely slice your onion and garlic. Place a large casserole or tray over medium heat. Add your olive oil and gently fry the onion and garlic. Add the smoked paprika, salt and pepper.

As the onions and garlic are cooking, prepare your tomatoes. Remove the core and slice them in half or in quarters if they are large. Once your onions are caramelised place the tomatoes in the casserole, all in one row. Don’t forget all the juices from your chopping board. You want your tomatoes to caramelise, not steam. Add the aged balsamic vinegar and let it reduce.

Place your casserole or tray in the oven, for 20-25 minutes, until tomatoes are soft and caramelised (see, now we have concentrated their flavour!). Remove from the oven and let them cool down a bit, so that you can blend them into a creamy soup.

Here is where you need to be very careful. Laugh not, it may sound obvious but you do not want litters of piping hot soup escape from your blender, like a volcano erupting hot lava all over your face, clothes and walls around you. Yes, this is from personal experience.

So once the tomatoes are cooled down, blend them in batches, using the vegetable stock (also cooled down!). Return your soup in a pot on the hob if you want to serve it hot. It is equally delicious cold though. Taste for seasoning.

Serve with a tablespoon of sun-dried tomato pesto, or drizzle with olive oil and a dollop of Greek yogurt.

——

* You can find smoked paprika at our shop at Borough Market

 

By Nafsika


Many say that Mastiha is an acquired taste. As an ingredient, these little rocks look like blurry diamonds. It is quite bitter in taste and very, very aromatic. So one needs to use it with care. A little goes a long way. You can make cakes with mastiha, cookies, use it in cooking as well (it actually goes very well with chicken).

When discussing recipes for this blog post, we decided to go for cookies. But not any cookies. These ones are made with olive oil instead of butter, grape molasses instead of sugar. And orange juice! I call them cookies because they have a very soft and chewy interior. I think the secret is the combination of olive oil, grape molasses and water. Oh and yes, these cookies are vegan too!

They are quite something. You can play around with the dough and make smaller cookies, or, experiment a bit. Shape the dough like a bagel by taking a large round ball and making a hole. Just make sure to bake the larger cookies a few minutes longer. You can eat them as is, or try them with our soft, creamy galomizithra cheese  and some orange blossom honey. And before you start gathering your ingredients, have a read at the story of mastiha. Somehow, images of mastihohoria, the villages on the island of Chios that produce mastiha from centuries ago give this resinous sap a whole different aroma.

For 45 cookies you will need:

1 cup olive oil 

1 cup grape molasses 

1 cup water

1 orange (both zest and juice)

½ tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp mastic tear drops (ground)

700g of all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

You can buy mastic tear drops from our shop at Borough Market. These can be ground using a mortar and pestle by adding a few pinches of sugar, so that they don’t stick together. Alternatively you can add 1/4 teaspoon (3-4 drops) of our pure mastic oil. Taste and add more if you want a more intense flavour.

In a bowl, whisk together your olive oil, grape molasses, water, orange juice and zest, until you have a smooth mixture. In a separate bowl sieve the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and mastiha. Mix until well combined until just smooth. Be careful not to over mix the dough.

Slowly incorporate your dry ingredients onto your wet ingredients, stirring with a wooden spoon. You should have a slightly sticky dough that you can easily shape. Using a bit of flour, make small round balls, or larger bagel-shaped cookies.

Place some greaseproof paper onto your baking tray and place the cookies on top, leaving a few centimetres between them.

Bake for 10-15min at 180C until they are lightly brown – the centres will be soft. Once your cookies have cooled down a bit, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. You can have them straight away (please do!), or keep them in an airtight container.

 


Gemista is a traditional way of cooking and enjoying vegetables in Greece. The word gemista, literally means filled or stuffed. It is a summer food, almost exclusively made during the summer months, as it uses predominantly tomatoes. Tomatoes are at their best in the summer as you may know.

When it comes to most traditional Greek foods, the perception (and often reality) is that they are labour intense. This one, gemista, usually is, as it requires carefully removing the flesh from tomatoes, preparing the stuffing with rice or mince meat, stuffing them and then baking them in the oven. However, in our version here, we are using bulgur wheat instead of rice. And bulgur wheat cooks much faster than rice. And instead of tomatoes, we are using colourful peppers. Removing the flesh is not necessary here, you just have to remove the seeds. So the actual time you’ll spend in the kitchen is really not that much.

The recipe below creates a very pleasant dish. It feels like that friend you want to spend time with on a cool summer evening. It is not heavy on oil, as most gemista usually are and the bulgur wheat gives it an interesting nuttiness. Add to that the sweet smoked paprika and fragrant herbs and you can imagine what we are talking about. So read on and come visit us at Borough Market to source everything you need!

For 6 long stuffed peppers

6 long peppers (red, yellow, green, you choose)
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
200g bulgur wheat
2 tbsp sweet smoked paprika
2 generous handfuls of pine nuts
1 small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
1 small bunch of mint, finely chopped
salt
pepper
¼ cup olive oil

Preheat your oven at 200C.

Cut the top part of each pepper. Remove the seeds using your fingers, a small knife or by tapping the pepper on your chopping board.

In a pot warm up the 3 tbsp of oil and gently fry the onion until translucent. Add the paprika and stir until your onions and oil turn red. Add the bulgur wheat and pine nuts. Stir so that everything is well mixed. Add your pine nuts. Add 1 cup of water and stir for a couple of minutes until the bulgur wheat absorbs it all. You are going for one step before al dente here, so that the rest cooks in the oven.

Add the herbs and season with salt and pepper. Taste and add more seasonings or herbs. You need the flavour of your stuffing to be quite intense, as once it is fully cooked, the flavours calm down.

(At this point you could just stop and eat the stuffing, ignoring the rest of the recipe, but trust us, it gets better)

Using a spoon, stuff each pepper with bulgur wheat. Place them on a baking tray with the ¼ cup of olive oil and ½ cup of water. Bake until the peppers are soft and the filling is cooked through, around 30-40min.

Serve with feta cheese or Greek yogurt and warm crusty bread. Welcome to the Greek summer!