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Green Olive Tapenade (Italian)

29 Jun
Green olive pate is the perfect Mediterranean summer food, it does not spoil, travels well and tastes divine when its hot making it a great picnic or lunch item. Salty and sour with capers and anchovies ground to a paste with garlic and lemon juice, delicious! Serve on bread or crackers as an aperitif or snack.

Makes enough to fill a 1 pint (1 quart) kilner Jar. 

  • 500g green olives, pitted
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp pickled capers
  • 4 anchovy fillets (optional)
  • 1/4 cup oilive oil
  • zest  and juice of half a lemon

Simply pound or grind all the ingredients together adding more or less of each ingredient to your own taste and to get a good consistency. Ready to eat immediately and will keep in the fridge for about 18 months.

Variations i sometimes add coriander leaf for a change and do not always add anchovies particularly when cooking for friends who are vegetarian.


Salad Niçoise

8 Sep

I love this classic salad from Southern coastal France; a wonderful combination of cooked potatoes and green beans with fresh summer tomatoes and lettuce topped with seared tuna and olives. This is what the French call a salad composé, each diner is presented with a plate on which all the ingredients have been layered or composed ready to tuck in.

Peel and boil the potatoes in salted water until only just tender, then drain and set aside to cool. Cut the beans into bite size pieces and boil in salted water for 5-6 minutes or until the beans are only just cooked  drain and give them a little splash of olive oil, toss and set aside.

Meanwhile season a tuna steak with sea salt and cracked black pepper then pan fry or griddle on a high heat for a few minutes on either side until just cooked through, sprinkle with lemon juice and remove from the pan.

Meanwhile wash and tear the lettuce into bite size pieces and toss with a simple vinaigrette or Salad Dressing of your choice.

Arrange the dressed lettuce leaves on a plate then add a scatterring of cooked potatoes, slices of spring or salad onion and green beans then a layer of sliced tomatoes, cucumber or peppers according to your taste and what you have available and give it a pinch of sea salt as you go.  Top with the freshly cooked tuna and some black olives with the stones removed. Garnish with a pinch of chopped parsley for both looks and flavour. Serve with a little olive oil or salad dressing drizzled over the top.
VariationI often add sweet peppers, salad onions or cucumber too.

Summer Salad (Greek)

5 Oct
Of all the countries in the world, to my mind, the Greeks do the best summer salads. It is not just the Aegean blue and blazing sun that make them taste so good they really know how to make the simple, chunky ingredients of summer sing.

Cucumber, cut into chunks
Onions, sweet ones sliced
Fresh herbs: parsley, basil, thyme or marjoram
Lemon juice (optional)
Olive oil (optional)

    Simply chop the vegetables into bite size pieces, season with salt and chopped herbs and that is it. As the vegetables are fairly juicy they create their own dressing but you can give it a touch of oil and lemon juice too. I sometimes use Salted Parsley Preserve instead of fresh parsley as the only addition for speed.

    Variations To the basic vegetable ingredients you can add all manner of stuff to make a more substantial salad. I particularly like adding a handull of pickled caper berries, black olives, feta cheese, chopped boiled egg or cured ham.

    My Aegean Spice Mix
    This is my own blend of herbs and spices that remind me of the Aegean, I use it to season raw summer veg and grillades. Fresh herbs such as oregano, mountain thyme, mint dried and rubbed then mixed with sea salt, dried lemon zest and ground chilli.

    Gardeners Note
    Summer salads like these start in June with the first cherry tomatoes and cucumbers from the polytunnel and carry on until the last rays of summer sun in October.

    Black Olive Tapenade (French)

    6 Sep

    This Provencal specialty of black olives, anchovies, tuna and capers pounded into a delicious spread is an absolute classic. Tapenade is often served, as a tit-bit to dip bread or raw vegetables into in restaurants or in bars on rounds of toated bread with drinks. It also makes an excellent picnic food and sandwich filler.

    * 50 or so stoned black olives
    * 6-8 anchovy fillets
    * 1 tbsp capers
    * 50-100g tinned tuna
    * Olive Oil (espresso cup full)
    * Juice of half a Lemon or orange
    * Flat leaf parsley, finely minced (optional)
    * 1 tbsp brandy (optional)

    Pound the olives, anchovies, tuna and capers together into a thick puree, in a pestle and mortar or in a food processor, gradually adding the olive oil and lemon juice as you go. When you have a consistency you are happy with, I like it quite coarse. Stir in the parsley and brandy if using. Serve spread on rounds of bread or as a dip to accompany crudités or bread sticks. Store in a jar in the fridge where it will keep for several months.

    Note the quality of the olives determines the end result I prefer strong oily dark olives but use the ones you like.

    This recipe was originally posted on on 6/9/2006.

    Spaghetti with black olives

    30 Jun

    I think the Italians are the masters of simple cooking, making each ingredient really count. This pasta dish pays homage to that simplicity and manages to really pack a punch on the taste buds. With so few ingredients make sure they are good, the spaghetti should be perfectly cooked, al-dente, and the olives the best tasting you can find, and viola! you’ve got yourself a delicious plate of food in less than 10 minutes.

    Prep & cooking 10 minutes

    * spaghetti
    * salt
    * olive oil
    * a good handful of whole oily black olives
    * plenty of garlic
    * Sicilian Green Sauce optional
    * herb infused oil such as basil oil or crank up the heat a little with some chilli oil

    Cook the spaghetti in a large pan of boiling, salted water until just cooked, 6-7minutes usually. Meanwhile take the stones out of the olives and slice the garlic. Heat a large pan, a wok works for me, add a good slosh of olive oil and throw in the garlic, when the aroma rises add the olives and fry until you can really smell the olives. Drain the spaghetti and throw into the pan along with a little Sicilian Green Sauce or freshly chopped green herbs. Toss to coat well and serve drizzled with a little oil.

    Variations: It tastes great with a smattering of roughly chopped fresh tomato ( I am still waiting for my first tomato this year). If you don’t have Sicilian Green Sauce or infused oils throw in some freshly chopped green herbs such as basil, oregano or parsley, and fresh or dried red chilli.

    This recipe was originally posted on on 30/6/2008.