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An ode to Mediterranean living and organic olive oil: a look inside Kat Velos’s delicious online world

Photography By @katvel__, @goldengrovesco
Published 11.05.22

Katianna Velos knows a thing or two about creating appealing culinary experiences.

Her Instagram page – dubbed “mostly food & frivolities, restaurants & recipes” – is a hyper-saturated, food-enthusiasts dream, filled with posts that teeter between Hellenic fantasy and exceptional cuisine

She has, by all accounts, nailed the sweet spot of food ’gramming. The content is aspirational and mesmerising, but it never strays too far from the realm of possibility. We can see ourselves zesting lemon over a sunlit plate of freshly cooked pasta or enjoying a pickled entree and glass of natural wine with friends. We can even picture ourselves eating breakfast in the sunshine while draped over a yacht railing. 

Surprisingly, Kat isn’t a seasoned food content creator. “I first started getting into content creation in the middle of 2020 when we [Melbourne] had our first six-week lockdown,” she says. “Previously, I just loved documenting all of my holidays and trips overseas and the restaurants I ate at.” And, though she’s found a niche, her talents aren’t limited to sharing epicurean experiences: she works at a law firm and is about to be admitted as a lawyer, and she recently launched an organic olive oil and lifestyle brand with her sister Yianna.

@katvel__

Golden Groves is an ode to Mediterranean living and a homage to the sisters’ Greek roots and love of food, travel and storytelling. As Kat explains, it was another lockdown baby. “As I was showing more cooking on Instagram, I was using and talking about my family’s extra virgin olive oil…and explaining why quality is so important.” People started to ask where the olive oil came from. When she explained that her family had been importing it to Australia from the Mani Peninsula in southern Greece, demand for the product – and the idea to turn it into a business – organically grew. 

“Yianna and I grew up, like many families in our childhood, going back to the village where our parents were born in Greece. The oil [used in Golden Groves] actually comes from our family’s own groves: they belong to our family and have for generations.” 

Kat’s heritage has heavily influenced her love of cooking and sharing food. It’s part of her identity, which is why she’s as dedicated to sharing recipes online and running an organic olive oil brand as she is to pursuing legal ambitions. “I’ve always been very academic but I would definitely say that my passion is in content creation and food,” Kat says. “Previously, you would not have thought that you could share something that you love and you’re passionate about and turn it into vocation.” 

Golden Groves

@katvel__

And let’s not forget how this particular online vocation really began: a love of pasta. “Pasta is one of those things I naturally lean into because it’s always on hand, it’s super easy to make, it’s tasty and most people love it,” Kat says. Though she’s quick to add that her repertoire offline is a lot broader: “My diet really revolves around the seasonality of fresh vegetables and fresh produce, and what’s available at the local markets. 

“We’ve grown up eating seasonally because we’ve always shopped at the local market…I love supporting local producers and being able to go to the markets and know the names of vendors and ask them things about the food they’re selling.” And this – knowing where your food comes from – is to Kat the easiest way to start eating and shopping more sustainably too. 

KAT’S HOMEMADE CAVATELLI WITH A HERBY GREEN SAUCE

Serves 4 people

Ingredients:

Green sauce

  • 2 cups kale, destemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 2 cups basil leaves
  • 1 cup nuts of choice
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 ¼ cups Golden Groves extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper

Cavatelli

  • 2 ¼ cups double zero, zero or semolina flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt

Method:

  1. Place flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well and add water. Mix together until a shaggy dough forms. Keep kneading until the dough comes together and becomes smooth (approx. 10 minutes). You can add more flour or water if the dough is too dry or wet.
  2. Once the dough is smooth and elastic, wrap in a damp tea towel so it doesn’t stick and set aside for 30 minutes to an hour.
  3. In the meantime, get started on your green sauce. In a saucepan, add ¼ cup olive oil and sauté kale, spinach, nuts and garlic until slightly wilted, but still brilliantly green. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Transfer the sautéed veggies and nuts to a food processor, add fresh basil and 1 cup of olive oil and blitz until a pesto-like consistency is achieved. Add salt and pepper, plus some lemon juice to taste.
  5. Once the dough has rested for 30 mins to an hour, cut it into 8 even pieces and roll into balls. Then roll the balls into long, thin strips of dough (about 1cm thick).
  6. Take a knife, and cut the dough into small rectangles, about ½cm wide.
  7. Once you have cut the dough into little pieces, with your thumb facing away from you, gently press on the dough and quickly push it away from you so that the dough almost folds in half but a little crevice has formed in the centre. This little crevice will help hold onto all your herbaceous sauce.
  8. Once all the cavatelli have been shaped, dust with flour so they don’t stick together.
  9. Bring a pot of generously salted water to a boil and add the cavatelli. In 2–3 minutes, they should rise to the top of the pot – this is how you’ll know they’re ready.
  10. Heat up the green sauce in a large saucepan over medium heat. Transfer the cooked cavatelli to the pan with the sauce, along with ½ cup of pasta water and stir for 1 minute until the smooth and luscious sauce evenly coats the cavatelli.
  11. Serve with toasted breadcrumbs on top (optional) and extra crushed toasted nuts.
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