Thursday, April 6, 2023

Puy lentils with wild garlic pesto, Greek anthotyro and date molasses dressing

Wild garlic season is here and for me this means one thing first and foremost. Wild garlic pesto.


I’ve been meaning to share my recipe for this for a while now, so here it is. Full of wild garlic flavor, no other greens to dilute its pungency and aroma, with classic pine nuts and parmigiano, and lots of extra virgin olive oil. 

In this dish it is simply dreamy as it pairs perfectly with the nutty and peppery green Puy lentils and the creamy Greek anthotyro. 



The dressing is another little gem, heavy with citrus flavor, fresh, hot ginger and date molasses to render its sweetness and balance out the acidity.

Needless to say, both the pesto and the dressing are recipes that you can use in other dishes.


Use the pesto over your favorite pasta shape or in other salads/grilled vegetables, smeared on top of a good seared steak or fish, as a pizza or bruschetta topping, or in a sandwich.

You can use the dressing to jazz up any old boring salad.



More recipes with wild garlic:

~Wild garlic flaky flatbreads

~Wild garlic tzatziki

~Broccolini with wild garlic and miso dressing 

~Veal biftekia (Greek burgers) with wild garlic






Puy lentils with wild garlic pesto, Greek anthotyro and date molasses dressing

You can eat this dish either warm, when lentils are freshly boiled, or at room temperature.

You can substitute the Greek anthotyro with ricotta if you are unable to find it where you live. If you don’t have date molasses, you can use grape or carob molasses instead, even though you must keep in mind that each type of molasses will lend its own unique flavor to your food.

Puy lentils keep their shape when cooked, making them ideal for this kind of dish and for salads. You could also use black Beluga lentils.


Yield: 4 servings  

Special equipment: small food processor



for the wild garlic pesto

100 g trimmed wild garlic (without the stems), rinsed and patted dry

50 g grated Parmigiano Reggiano

50 g toasted pine nuts

100-110 ml extra virgin olive oil

Salt (if needed)


for the dressing

4 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tsp red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar

4-5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp freshly grated ginger

1 tsp date molasses

Salt, to taste

Black pepper, 4-5 turns of the pepper mill


350 g Puy green lentils

200 g Greek anthotyro cheese




make the wild garlic pesto

In a food processor, add the wild garlic leaves and process roughly. Add the grated Parmigiano and process a bit more. Add the pine nuts and process just a little. Add olive oil, a couple teaspoons at a time, and process. You should end up with a slightly chunky pesto with well incorporated ingredients. You may need more or less oil depending on how thick or loose you want your pesto, or how much moisture the leaves release.

Keeps well for 3-4 days in the fridge, in a glass jar with lid, or frozen into cubes for 2-3 months.

make the dressing

In a glass jar with a lid, add all the ingredients, close the lid tightly and shake well. Give it a taste and add more salt if needed.

prepare the lentils

Before you cook the lentils, it is important that you pick them over. Sometimes you can find spoiled or blackened lentils, or small stones or debris among them that you have to discard. Just lay the lentils on a plate in small batches and pick them over carefully.

Pour 1 liter of water in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pan, put on the lid, and let water come to the boil over high heat. When it comes to the boil, add the Puy lentils along with ¼ tsp salt, lower heat to medium, put on the lid and let lentils cook for 15-20 minutes, until they soften but remain 'al dente', meaning firm but not hard.


In a bowl, toss the boiled lentils (either while hot, or when they have cooled) with as much of the vinaigrette as you want. It’s all about personal taste here. Start with a few tablespoonfuls and add more if needed.

Divide the lentils among four plates.

Add a couple heaped teaspoonfuls of pesto on top, then crumble some anthotyro cheese on top.

Drizzle with a little more dressing if desired.




Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Cinnamon date muffins

Cinnamon date muffins that smell and taste like cinnamon buns, but better. 

Have I grabbed your attention yet? 



What if I told you they’re impossibly fluffy and soft inside and beautifully crunchy on top due to the raw sugar sprinkled over them before cooking? Now? Are you hooked? Oh, did I mention you don’t need any kind of mixer to make them? You just need a couple of bowls, a spatula and a whisk.


I’ve made these muffins more times than I can count over the last few years and they have always been devoured in no time. They’re perfect with a cup of coffee or tea, or for a sweet breakfast when you need to get out the door as fast as you can.


They’re a bit on the sweet side, yes, due to the presence of both dates and sugar, but they are totally worth it. The cinnamon aroma and flavor is out of this world. The chewy bits inside from the chopped up dates is a joyful surprise with every bite, and they last a good few days without losing any of their flavor or texture, and frankly, they become even more irresistible.





Cinnamon date muffins

The addition of oil in cakes and muffins makes them fluffier and more moist, that’s why I love adding oil in my bakes.

In this recipe, you can use a combination of olive oil (50 ml) and sunflower oil (75 ml), like I did, or you can use only olive oil (125 ml) or only sunflower oil (125 ml). The choice is yours.

I use Medjool dates but I have also used Sukari dates in the past. Both these types of dates are juicy, fresh and soft and have a caramel flavor that works perfectly in these muffins.



Yield: 12 muffins (on the big side)

Special equipment: 12-cup cupcake/muffin pan, paper liners



375 g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp ground cinnamon

210 g raw cane sugar

1 large egg

75 ml sunflower oil

50 ml extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

180 ml milk 2% fat

460 g Medjool dates, pitted and finely chopped (400 g net weight)


for sprinkling on top

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 Tbsp Demerara sugar




Line your cupcake pan with paper liners.
Preheat your oven to 180°C.

In a large bowl, add the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, cinnamon, sugar) and mix with a spatula.

In another bowl, medium-sized, add the wet ingredients (egg, two kinds of oil, vanilla extract, milk) and whisk well to combine.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and fold with a spatula.

Add the chopped dates and mix until just combined. The dates may be sticking to one another but you need to persevere so they are almost equally dispersed throughout the muffin mixture without however overmixing the muffin batter.

Empty the mixture in the prepared pan.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cinnamon and Demerara sugar, and sprinkle the top of the 12 muffins.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack. Once the muffins have slightly cooled, remove them carefully from the pan and onto the wire rack to cool completely. You can certainly eat them warm. They are utterly delicious straight out of the oven.

They keep well for 3-4 days at room temperature, in an airtight container.

You can also freeze them for a month. Just let them cool completely and then wrap them well with plastic wrap. Then place them in a freezer bag and into the freezer.

Thaw them in the fridge before eating or you can microwave them.



Monday, March 20, 2023

Vegetable-packed tomato sauce

I always improvise when it comes to tomato sauces. I make them so often that I can’t really stick to one recipe (even though I have a couple that are my all-time favorites), because simply the ingredients that I use will depend largely on my cravings as well as on what I have in my fridge and cupboards.


Since having Aris, I invariably prefer to add vegetables in any sauce I make, for the nutrition factor, something I, admittedly, rarely did before, and I also cut down a bit on my use of spices as I prefer everything to be more spicy and hot than what my three-year old prefers. So for the past couple of years, my tomato sauces are more vegetable-heavy and dare I say more delicious for it.

This one, which has carrots, bell peppers and courgettes added in, I make often to serve with plain pasta, but it’s not limited to that. I use it on top of homemade pizza dough, I mix it with boiled red lentils and serve it over couscous and I also use it as a base for lasagna and for stuffed pasta shells.





Vegetable-packed tomato sauce (for children and adults alike)

Due to the addition of various vegetables, this sauce is naturally sweetened and isn’t as acidic as other tomato sauces are. If, for any reason, yours tastes acidic from the tomato and/or tomato paste, add a little bit of coconut sugar or other unrefined sugar.

The texture of the sauce is of course somewhat chunky since it contains all these vegetables, but you can certainly use an immersion blender to puree it if you prefer a velvety tomato sauce texture.

I use Turkish sweet red pepper paste (tatli biber salcasi) in this sauce as I love its flavor and can easily find it here in the Netherlands, but it’s not a necessary addition so just omit it if you can’t source it. You could alternatively add a little bit of harissa.


Yield: 6 servings (when served with pasta)

Special equipment: food processor



120 ml extra virgin olive oil

1 can 400 g whole tomatoes (I use Italian, San Marzano tomatoes)

2 red onions, peeled

1 shallot, peeled

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1 large red bell pepper

½ large green bell pepper

½ medium-sized zucchini, chopped roughly

1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped roughly

2 tsp tomato paste

1 tsp Turkish sweet red pepper paste (optional)

½ tsp smoked paprika


Black pepper



Before you start cooking the sauce, you need to use your food processor to finely chop and/or puree the different vegetables.

So start by finely chopping together the onions, shallots and garlic in the food processor and empty in a small bowl.

Then add the red and green bell peppers and process until finely chopped to the point they become very liquid. Empty in another bowl.

Then add the carrot, chop finely and empty in a third bowl. Finely chop the zucchini and add it in the same bowl as the carrot.

Finally, add the canned whole tomatoes in the food processor and puree them.

In a medium-sized saucepan, add the olive oil, heat over medium-high and add the chopped onions-shallot-garlic. Sauté, stirring constantly, until softened and golden.

Add the finely chopped red and green bell peppers and sauté until they have dried a bit (you want most of their water to have evaporated). Then add the finely chopped carrot and zucchini and sauté for 3-4 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and sweet red pepper paste (if using) and stir well. Add the pureed tomatoes and stir again. Fill the empty can of tomatoes with hot water, swirl it around a bit to get the remaining tomato bits and add it to the saucepan. Then fill it again by half and add this too. Finally, add the smoked paprika, salt and black pepper to taste, and bring to the boil.

Turn heat down to low, put the lid on and simmer gently until you have a thick and rich sauce. I simmer it for at least 1 hour. If it’s watery, simmer more without the lid until it reaches the consistency you prefer. Check the seasoning and correct if you need to.

Serve with pasta or use in another dish.

It’s great in any dish that requires a tomato sauce.



Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Greek Lagana sandwich with burrata, harissa and cured meats

Next time you make Greek Lagana (yeasted flatbread), or an Italian Schiacciata, consider cutting a large piece and slicing it in half to expose the crumb.

Then, proceed to slather both sides with plenty of good-quality rose harissa and add a few slices of melting cheese. Gruyère would work so good here. Briefly toast the bread in the oven, just until the cheese starts to melt over the bread.

Once ready, add some smoked or roasted chicken slices and Hungarian salami, which is my personal fave, a handful of baby tomatoes, cut in half, some fresh mint and of course the pièce de résistance, buffalo milk burrata, in all its creamy, oozy glory.

Drizzle with some olive oil, salt and pepper liberally, close the sandwich up and enjoy.



Friday, March 10, 2023

Radicchio salad with mandarin, olives and Grana Padano

I’m in a bitter mood lately. Bitter greens mood that is. Cavolo nero, endive, rocket and radicchio were all part of our meals this past week.



I cooked cavolo nero on Sunday, as part of our lunch, boiled and served with lots of extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice (much like I did here), and earlier last week I made this salad with radicchio. The bitter and lightly spicy flavor of this red radicchio with white veins is simply amazing for all those of us who embrace bitterness in our food.


I paired the crunchy leaves with a few sweet and juicy mandarin segments, shaved Grana Padano cheese for its umami and salty flavor, wrinkly Greek olives for their briny bitterness (another excellent source of bitter flavor that I adore), pumpkin seeds for extra crunch and earthiness, and mint for its herbaceous freshness.


I made a creamy, ultra vinegary sauce, a zingy vinaigrette if you will, that if tasted alone you’d think you have added too much vinegar, but you’d be mistaken. Paired with all the salad ingredients, all tasted in one bite, you will find the balance, and it’ll make your palate do a little happy dance, as did mine.


More of my recipes with bitter vegetables or frutis:



Radicchio salad with mandarin, olives and Grana Padano

For those of you who are not familiar with radicchio (part of the chicory family), it has thin, soft, silky leaves and crunchy veins. It is not like purple cabbage whose whole leaf is thick and very crunchy. 

I love having this kind of salad as my lunch with a chunk of good bread.

It is also wonderful served alongside a main meal and it would make a nice pairing with grilled fish, a rich pasta dish or braised meat.


Yield: enough for 2 people



9-10 radicchio leaves, rinsed, well patted dry and torn in half

2 large mandarins, peeled and cut into rounds

Grana Padano cheese, shaved or thinly sliced

Black olives, I used Greek wrinkly ones called throubes

A handful of pumpkin seeds, toasted if you want

Fresh mint leaves

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper


for the vinaigrette

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp honey, I used Greek wild thyme honey

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper




make the vinaigrette

Add all ingredients in a small, deep bowl and whisk well to combine and emulsify.

make the salad

Place radicchio leaves on a large plate, add the mandarin rounds and scatter some olives.

Add a few pieces of shaved Grana Padano, sprinkle some pumpkin seeds all over, as well as a few mint leaves, torn if too large. Add some salt and pepper, and drizzle with just a little bit of olive oil to moisten the leaves.

Then, use a spoon to add the vinaigrette. Don’t use all of it at once. Add some, toss the salad and check if it needs more. Everyone’s taste is different and you may need less or more.

Grab some good sourdough bread and enjoy! Or serve it alongside your main meal.

If you have any leftover vinaigrette, keep it in the fridge in a small jar for 2-3 days and use it in salads, with grilled vegetables or in sandwiches.



Thursday, February 23, 2023

Yuzu cake with yuzu glaze

Other than chocolate, my favorite flavor for cakes of any kind is citrus. Case(s) in point: bergamot drizzle cake, lemon cake with Greek wild thyme honey glaze, blood orange semolina syrup cake, lemon, polenta and yoghurt cake, and lemon and honey madeleines. For this cake, the citrus I chose is super special; it’s yuzu.


I love the flavor of yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit that’s as unique as bergamot. And even though I have grown up with the flavor and aroma of bergamots as they are abundant in Greece, yuzu is a flavor I first tasted about a decade ago.



Yuzu is a small citrus fruit that originated in China but has been grown in Japan for over a thousand years. It can be yellow or green and has a bumpy, uneven, thick surface. Only its juice and zest are used in cooking and is rarely eaten as a fruit.

The flavor of yuzu is reminiscent of lemon, but sweeter. It is almost like a mix of lemon, mandarin, lime and grapefruit, with floral and herbal hints reminiscent of pine and thyme, and it’s highly aromatic. It has such a unique flavor that the only way to really understand it is to taste it.




The actual fruit is rarely found outside of Japan and even inside Japan, fresh yuzu is considered special, but luckily, yuzu juice is sold in small bottles in Asian/Japanese food stores. The juice inside the fruit is minimal and it takes a lot of yuzu fruits to get one small bottle, so that makes it quite expensive. If however you’re really into tasting something different and you don’t mind splurging on a food item, then I’d say go for it, even just once. Just be careful to buy 100% yuzu juice, because some brands blend the yuzu juice with other citrus fruits and/or vinegar.



Yuzu has the ability to maintain its sourness and tartness when cooked in high temperatures which makes it ideal for use in cakes.

Along with its beautiful aroma, acidity and slight sweetness, yuzu made this cake taste amazing and incredibly fragrant. With a soft, dense (but not stodgy) and slightly moist texture, it won over even my most demanding of cake tasters, my partner.





Yuzu cake with yuzu glaze

Adapted from Gâteau by Aleksandra Crapanzano

There’s yuzu juice inside the cake and in the glaze. I chose to intensify the flavor of the citrus even more by sprinkling freeze-dried yuzu on top of the glaze. By no means is that a necessary addition but it does make it extra special. Feel free to omit it if you can’t source freeze-dried yuzu.

The recipe yields two loaf cakes. Or you could bake one loaf cake and make cupcakes with the rest of the batter. Don’t be tempted to pour all the batter into one baking pan as the baking times will change greatly.



Yield: 2 loaf cakes

Special equipment: fine sieve, stand mixer or hand held electric mixer, two loaf pans about 23x13 cm, baking paper



for the cake

110 g unsalted butter

270 g all-purpose flour

1½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp fine sea salt

300 g white granulated sugar

Zest of 2 lemons, grated

Zest of 2 limes, grated

5 large eggs, at room temperature (1 large egg is about 57 grams)

120 g crème fraîche

60 g Greek yoghurt, 10% fat

120 ml yuzu juice (from a bottle or fresh if you can find it)


for the glaze

1 cup icing sugar

2½ Tbsp yuzu juice (from a bottle or fresh if you can find it)


Freeze-dried yuzu (optional), for sprinkling on top



for the cake

Preheat your oven to 175°C.

Butter the sides and bottom of your two loaf pans and line with baking paper.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and set aside somewhere that is warm so it doesn’t solidify.

In a small bowl, sieve the flour, baking powder and sea salt.

In the bowl of your stand mixer (or in a large bowl if you’re using an electric hand held mixer), add the sugar, the grated lemon and lime zest and with your fingertips, rub them together. This will disperse the citrus oils through the sugar which will flavor uniformly the cake batter. Add the eggs, and using the paddle attachment (if you’re using a stand mixer), beat on medium-high speed until you have a fluffy and light mixture.

Add the crème fraîche and Greek yoghurt and beat to combine.

On low speed now, add the sieved flour, baking powder and salt, and mix for 5 seconds. Then add the yuzu juice and mix to combine. Finally, add the melted butter and mix until you have a smooth mixture. Don’t overbeat.

Divide the batter between the two prepared loaf pans.

Bake for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool slightly. Then remove the cakes from the pans and leave to cool completely before glazing.


for the glaze

In a small bowl add the icing sugar and yuzu juice and using a small whisk, mix well until you have a smooth, glossy and lump-free glaze.

Once the cakes are completely cool, pour over the glaze. Sprinkle with freeze-dried yuzu, if using.

You can keep it at room temperature, for 2-3 days.