This is a collaboration with NEO Digest
I just realized that I have never shared the recipe I created for NEO Digest like a hundred years ago. NEO is an online journal celebrating good design and timelessness. They share interesting stories, sell beautiful clothes (like this skirt and this kimono – waaant!) and most importantly – they share awesome recipes. Lena, the founder, asked me to create a recipe for their ”The Art of Gastronomy” series in order to give publicity to the artform surrounding food. I mean, how awesome?
I put quite a lot of thought into this project and I wanted to share a dish that was a symbol for everything I love. I wanted my photos to have that Nordic, moody and kind of rustic feel that I love. I knew from the beginning that I was going to photograph the dish in our summer cottage. Simply because it’s as Nordic as it gets. The light, the interior – everything is just…Nordic.
I ended up making a Greek salad, although clearly influenced by my life here in Sweden.
I really love to travel and see the world and I wanted to somehow express my wanderlust through this recipe. As a kid my family used to visit Greece (almost every year) and I have literally eaten my way through the Greek kitchen. The Greek salad is what I keep coming back to. It’s so simple, yet so delicious. I wanted to keep the basic ingredients, however, I wanted the salad to be a little more filling and also have something from ”the Nordic kitchen” (I know, this sentence is so clever) ;). A Greek salad should always contain tomatoes, red onions, olives and feta cheese so that was of course something I couldn’t change. To get that Nordic touch I decided to add some chickpeas, as they are both delicious and very filling. Also, it’s a staple in the Nordic kitchen.
I normally try to stick to Nordic ingredients when I cook, but there are a few ”exotic” ingredients I always have at home. Olives and extra virgin olive oil, for example. I believe we should eat as much local food as we can, since it’s way more sustainable. Olive oil isn’t really locally produced when you live in Sweden. However, if you compare olive oil and fresh exotic fruits (pineapple, dragon fruit, kiwi) olive oil is way better since it can be stored in a different way. So I guess it’s pretty ok after all.
When I shot this dish I wanted to keep the nordic darkness and shadows in the photo. I like to give my photos a somewhat rustic touch and therefore I chose to style it with natural materials like wood. When you photograph food, there is just as much to the details, props and surroundings as it is to the actual dish. By using beautiful plates, table cloths and flowers you can create a dinner table that is just as beautiful as a painting.
Even the food is beautiful and I believe that we should embrace this artform everyday. Styling your dinner, even if just a little, makes all the difference. Try to sprinkle some seeds over your food, add some fresh herbs or just serve the dish on your favorite plate or in your favorite bowl. Eating pretty doesn’t have to be difficult. Plus, when you style your food I believe you’ll eat more slowly and actually enjoy what you’re eating. And we all need to slow down and appreciate the small things in life, don’t you think?
Mediterranean Salad With Tzatziki And Tapenade
2 red onions
2 blocks of feta cheese (skip if vegan)
400 g pre-cooked chickpeas
2 handfuls of olives
Extra virgin olive oil
Chop the tomatoes in large pieces.
Peel and finely chop the red onions.
Rinse the chickpeas.
Peel the cucumber and cut it in half-moon shaped pieces. Chop the tomatoes.
Combine tomatoes, cucumber, onion and chickpeas in a big bowl and add the olives.
Transfer the salad to 4 deep plates. Halve the feta blocks and place one piece on top of every salad.
Drizzle with olive oil and serve with tzatziki and tapenade.
200 ml greek yoghurt, or oat based sour cream if vegan
3 garlic cloves, minced
salt and black pepper
Shred the cucumber and squeeze out as much water as possible.
Mix the cucumber with the yoghurt and minced garlic cloves.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
250 g pitted Kalamata olives
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp capers
5 fresh basil leaves
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp red wine of your choice (optional)
Rinse the olives in cold water and place in a food processor.
Add all the remaining ingredients and process to combine.
The tapenade is done when it has turned into a coarse paste.
Pour into a small bowl and serve with the salad.