Posts Tagged olives

Pan-Fried Asparagus & Tomatoes

While it’s not quite spring weather up here in the North, our grocery stores are starting to show hints that spring and summer are on their way. The hearty winter fruits and vegetables (like apples, squash, and brussels sprouts) are getting sadder looking and more sparse. And spring vegetables such as asparagus are now if full abundance. And the asparagus looks good. It’s hearty and green with strong, tight tips. After months of asparagus deprivation, I start devouring this by the poundful when I see the really good stuff in the stores. Sure, I could eat it (and any vegetable) throughout the year; but asparagus just doesn’t taste quite right in the midst of winter as it does when spring arrives. During this time of year, it’s so sweet and barely needs any coaxing to taste delicious – a simple steam followed by a drizzle of olive oil and a coating of egg yolk could satisfy my long awaited desire for this veggie spear.

However, I’m not opposed to adding a bit of flavour to my side dishes. So while perusing Jamie Oliver’s latest book (yes, we’re going back to another Jamie Oliver recipe…but I am in the midst of reading his cookbook, and keep coming across so many recipes I want to share with you), I came across a recipe for asparagus that incorporated tiny little sweet tomatoes and briny olives. I could just imagine how the salty olives would compliment the subtle sweetness of the asparagus and tomatoes; I had to make this right away.

I changed the recipe somewhat – adding some chili flakes for heat and tart red wine vinegar to round out the flavours – but the base of asparagus, tomatoes, and olives remains credited to Jamie Oliver. This is one of those dishes that I wish I would have thought of years ago. So simple and so delicious. We served this with the BBQ Chicken Pizza we recently made; not because it was an outright compliment, but because I am eating asparagus as often as I can until I get my fill. This side dish would be excellent served with grilled fish or chicken.

Pan-Fried Asparagus & Tomatoes

Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Meals in Minutes

1 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp chili flakes
1 lb asparagus, ends trimmed & cut into thirds
2 small tomatoes, cut into large chunks
8 kalamata olives, pitted & roughly chopped
2 tsp red wine vinegar

Heat a olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and chili flakes and saute for about 30 seconds. Add the asparagus and saute for approximately 5 minutes or until beginning to cook through, stirring frequently. Add the tomatoes and olives and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, stirring vigorously to release the liquid from the tomatoes. When everything the asparagus is cooked, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the red wine vinegar. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Serves 3-4.


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Greek Salad

Happy Halloween family & friends! I don’t have any goulish recipes to share with you today. Just a quick and tasty salad I’m sharing for a friend. A friend who forgot to cook supper tonight for her and her husband; who recently discovered she has a gluten intolerance, and who I just discovered has a husband who loves Greek food. So here’s one you can make sometime this week. Gluten free and (hopefully) husband approved!

I’ve already shared a Greekish salad before…and mentioned some people’s aversion to this easy-peasy dish. I guess it does show up at every potluck. But I still welcome the combination of all those tasty, salty bits in the salad. And this one has an added bonus: avocado! I literally eat this stuff by the spoonful – sometimes mashed onto bread with olive oil; sometimes lightly sprinkled with lemon juice and soy sauce; and sometimes just right out of the skin and into my belly. This recipe comes from Jamie Oliver’s Cook with Jamie book, my go-to book when I need something dreamy to look at (err) a tasty dinner idea – every recipe I’ve tried has been amazing. Buy it NOW if you don’t already own it!

Hope your Halloween was not too frightful – I may be having nightmares about someone forgetting to feed me!!

Jamie’s Greek Salad with Avocado

Adapted from Cook with Jamie by Jamie Oliver

2 avocados
1 lemon
4 plum (roma) tomatoes, cut into 1/2″ chunks
handful of kalamata olives
1 shallot, finely diced
12 oz feta cheese, cut into cubes
1 tsp dried oregano (+ a little extra to sprinkle on the finished salad)
red wine vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/8 fresh ground pepper
1 head romaine  – tender, inner leaves only – torn into pieces, then washed & dried

Peel and pit your avocado, then slice into into wedges. Toss gently with a bit of lemon juice (less than 1/2 that lemon). With your hands, gently mix together the avocados, tomatoes, olives, shallot, feta cheese, oregano, a couple small splashes of red wine vinegar, the salt & pepper, and about 1 Tbsp of the olive oil. Set aside for about 5 minutes. Add the romaine lettuce to the bowl, then sprinkle about 1 Tbsp of lemon juice over everything (about 1/2 a lemon). Give the salad one more gentle toss. Drizzle the finished with a bit more olive oil and sprinkle some more oregano over everything.

Serves 4.

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Greek Chicken Pitas

This lunchtime creation was born because of two fixations: 1) my need to find more quick lunch meals. We’ve been slacking in the lunch department in this household lately. I’ve rarely been planning ahead and making meals, as I’ve been tired of the usual sandwiches & salads. And our leftovers have been scarce – too little food or are we just being glutons? I’m not too sure; and 2) my obsession with a “salsa” I’ve been making for the past few years. It combines 3 loves of mine: feta, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes into a lovely dip. I came across the recipe over at Smitten Kitchen, and I would marry it if I didn’t love my husband so much.

When thinking about a very quick lunch, my first thought was the roasted chickens you find at the grocery store. I figured I could just go ahead and make some chicken Caesar pitas and be done with it. But Kyle doesn’t have the luxury of being able to make his sandwich the moment before he eats it, so a soggy Caesar in a soggy pita sounded unappetizing. When I took a look in my fridge I saw my 3 stand-by salsa stars staring back at me, begging to be chopped, mixed and greedily eaten. So I combined the olives, feta and sundried tomatoes with the chicken and added a bit of a dressing to keep everything moist.

We made these the day we were eating them; mine only a few seconds before I tucked in and my mother-in-law’s and husband’s in the morning. The report back from Kyle was a soggy-free and delicious pita when eaten by the afternoon.

Greek Chicken Pitas

Inspired by Roasted Chicken & Smitten Kitchen

You could add cucumbers and peppers to further replicate a Greek salad if you wish. I don’t really think the pita needs it though. And to be honest, I find the combination of cucumbers and chicken to be rather disgusting. 

For the Chicken Salad
2 cups cooked & shredded chicken (I used a half-&-half combo of white & dark meat)
1/4 cup feta, chopped
1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted & chopped
1 Tbsp sundried tomatoes (packed in oil), chopped
1 Tbsp oil from sundried tomatoes (or extra virgin olive oil)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp dried oregano
salt & pepper to taste

For the Pita
3 pitas, cut in half
12 slices tomato (approx.)
about 1/4 cup red onion, sliced
lettuce (I used baby romaine)

Combine chicken, feta, olives, and sundried tomatoes in a bowl – gently stir together. Combine remaining chicken salad ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together. Pour over the chicken mixture and stir to combine. You can now refrigerate this over night in a tightly sealed container. The chicken salad will keep for 3 days in the fridge.

When you’re ready to make your pitas, divide the chicken salad evenly among the 6 pita halves. Top with tomato, onions, and lettuce.

Serves 3 (2 pita halves each).


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Greek Panzanella

My parents hosted a barbecue this past weekend, and my mom had asked me to bring a salad. I remembered one from Ina Garten’s recent book (Barefoot Contessa How Easy is That?), that I had wanted to try, but figured it would be best served to a large group. I know that some people are tired of Greek salad. It does tend to show up at every potluck – and why not? What’s not to love about it? Sweet tomatoes, salty feta & olives, sharp onions, and earthy oregano. All things my heart desires on a frequent basis – might as well eat them all together.

Ina’s salad is a mash-up of a typical Greek salad and an Italian panzenella (a salad that finds use for day-old bread, by soaking it in dressing and tossing with tomatoes and other delicious produce). It sounded delicious, and this is a perfect time to add tiny tomatoes to your menu. They are in season right now, and perfectly juicy and sweet. I could have just thrown the tomatoes and bread together in a bowl with a little bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and vinegar, and I’m sure the salad would have been just ask good. So if you’re even thinking about making this, go out, buy your tomatoes, and make it now! Don’t wait till tomato season is over!

I didn’t really make any changes to the original recipe. I only cut back on the oil & vinegar, since it looked like it was going to be too much, and make for a soggy salad (bingo. There was quite enough dressing with the amount I used). I also don’t bother paying for pitted kalamatas – plus their incredibly hard to find here anyways. So I pitted my own. Sure I could have left them whole in the salad, but when I’m making dishes to bring to someone else’s home, I like to keep choking hazards to a minimum. To pit an olive, all I do is lay it down on a cutting board, place my knife over top of it, and then smash the knife with my hand/fist (if you crush garlic like this, you’ll know what motion I’m talking about). After the olive has been smashed, it’s simply a matter of finding the “tear” that was left behind, and ripping out the pit. Then I cut the olive in half, and throw it in the salad. It takes a bit of time, but I think that people eating them appreciate not having to dig in their mouths for pits or spit them out on their plates – we all want to show a little bit of class at social gatherings right?

The only thing that Ina doesn’t specify in the recipe (and so I didn’t bother doing) was using day-old/stale bread, as opposed to fresh bread. The recipe simply states “Rustic Bread.” So when we went to the grocery store and found a still warm loaf of Ciabatta I was compelled to buy it. I knew it was a stupid move at the time. How was I going to cut this soft, fresh loaf into little cubes? But I couldn’t resist. I’ll also (sheepishly) admit that we tore into it the moment we got to the car. The crust was crunchy and the crumb was perfectly tender and hot. We had to hold ourselves back from eating it all and then having to replace it with another loaf for the salad. Somehow willpower overcame fanatical hunger. However, when we got home and I started to prepare the salad I found out I was right. It was a pain in the butt to cut the darn thing into cubes. But was it worth it to taste the fresh baked Ciabatta? Oh yes.

Greek Panzanella

Adapted (only a little) from Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That? by Ina Garten

1/4 cup olive oil
1 boule/loaf rustic bread, cut into 1-inch cubes) – we used Ciabatta
salt and pepper
1 English cucumber, halved, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 red bell pepper, diced into large pieces
1 yellow bell pepper, diced into large pieces
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 of a small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 lb feta cheesed, diced into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss bread with olive oil and salt and pepper. Spread evenly on a baking pan and bake in the oven for 8-12 minutes until browned. Remove from oven and let cool.

Combine remaining salad ingredients (minus dressing) in a large bowl and toss gently with your (clean) hands.

To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a small canning jar (or any container you have with a very leakproof lid). Put the lid on and vigorously shake. Note: Ina (and many other cookbooks) suggest putting all the dressing ingredients – minus oil – into a small bowl and whisking together, then  suggest you slowly add the oil and whisk away (while somehow magically keeping your small bowl steady) in order to create what’s called an emulsion. But here’s the secret: if you have mustard in your vinaigrette, it will do all the work for you, as long as you shake up your ingredients really well. Sure this isn’t what you’d do to impress the chef if you were in culinary school – but we’re at home, why make things harder on yourself?

Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients in the bowl, add the bread on top, then (using your clean hands again) lightly toss the salad together. Let the salads flavours combine for 15-30 minutes before serving. This will allow the bread to soak up some of the dressing, while still staying crunchy.

Ina says the salad serves 6. At a burger BBQ with plenty of other salads to go around, this served 18-20.

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