Lemon-Olive Tapenade

lemons 3 4.27.14I made this little tapenade one evening a couple of weeks ago, and it’s amazing to me that this small list of ingredients took til now to show up in a post! But, sometimes, that’s the way it goes.

Traditionally, a tapenade includes olives, capers and anchovies. This tapenade includes the olives part.

I had what turned out to be about three-quarters of a cup of Luques olives (a very nice green olive that I used here most recently) left in a jar, and I decided to use them up.

I pulled out my food processor, and processed each of these ingredients separately (because I wasn’t sure how much I would need):

  • the 3/4 cup of olives, pitted first!
  • 1/4 of a small red onion (I got about 2 tablespoons from this, and used 1 1/2 tablespoons)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • handful of cilantro

I didn’t purée them, just got them to a small mince.

lemons 1 4.27.14Scooped each of the ingredients into a bowl as they were ready. Then to them I added the zest of 1 medium lemon, 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of olive oil, and some freshly ground pepper.

I enjoyed this on crackers…along with cocktails and the company of my husband and sister!

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Saffron Cauliflower

cauliflower 1 3.15.14Versatile cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables. Roast it, sauté it, mash it, or dip it in egg, then breadcrumbs, and fry ’til tender. Always wonderful.

Mellow and satisfying with subtle flavors, it also holds its own with bigger, more distinct flavors. So when I came across this saffron cauliflower recipe while leafing through my copy of the Yotam Ottolenghi cookbook Plenty, I really wanted to try it. British cook Ottolenghi brings Mediterranean-Middle Eastern inspiration to the entries in this all-vegetables cookbook, that is rich in colors, ingredients, and textures.

In this recipe, which I adapted a little to accommodate ingredients I already had, the exotic aroma of saffron, the sweetness from raisins and long-cooked onions, and the slight saltiness of green olives work beautifully with cauliflower, which remains central even as it plays well with the others.

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons saffron
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 2 12-ounce packages cauliflower florets (or 1 medium cauliflower, divided into medium florets)
  • 1 large red onion
  • 2/3 cup Thompson raisins (if you use raisins that are very dry, soak them in water for a few minutes, then drain)
  • 1/2 cup Luques green olives (or other nice-quality green olive)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons cilantro

I preheated the oven to 400°F, then put the saffron strands in a small bowl, over which I poured the boiling water. While that infused, I sliced the onions and pitted and halved the olives.

Then I put everything, except for the cilantro, into a larger bowl, mixing it all together with my hands, giving the white florets (as well as my hands!) a good stir in the yellow saffron-water infusion.

Transferred that to an ovenproof pan, which I covered with foil and placed in the oven to cook for 40 to 45 minutes. Until the cauliflower was tender but still a bit firm. About halfway through I pulled the pan out to give everything a stir, covered again and returned to the oven to finish cooking.

When it was done, I removed the foil and allowed it to cool down slightly, before stirring in the cilantro, and adjusting the seasoning.

cauliflower 5 3.15.14I don’t know how to describe the flavor of saffron. It’s distinct. It’s more a permeating scent than a taste. As simple as this dish is, there’s a lushness to it because of that, and because of the mellowed olives, juicy raisins, the onions cooked to a drapey softness, citrusy cilantro.

All mingling with golden-hued cauliflower…showing off its glamour side.

Kohlrabi in the Raw

kohlrabi 2 11.23.13Yes, I sautéed it. Yes, I boiled and mashed it. A friend roasted hers, and thought it delicious.

But versatile kohlrabi also serves up beautifully when raw.

Peel it. Slice it, or cut it into wedges or planks. Eat out of hand. Toss into a salad. Include on a crudité platter.

Or shred it and make a coleslaw.

Recipes abound online for kohlrabi coleslaw. Mine came together because I had bought Pink Lady apples at the farmers market, and I thought the crisp tartness of the apples would go really nicely with the crisp sweetness of kohlrabi.

Four ingredients—kohlrabi, apples, cilantro, lime juice.

I peeled the kohlrabi, cut it in half, and used my mandoline to shred it, making a soft, snowy pile.

I sliced the apples, leaving the green and rosy pink skin on, then cut the slices into matchstick pieces.

Into a bowl with the kohlrabi and apples, I added a generous handful of chopped cilantro, and the juice of one lime. Salt and/or pepper optional. I added a little, but these flavors and textures—crisp, sweet, tart, citrusy—together were enough on their own.

That’s it, that’s the slaw.

kohlrabi 3 11.23.13That evening, I used it in tacos.

Sautéed thin slices of extra-firm tofu, just til beginning to brown. Sliced avocados and cheddar cheese (because cheddar and apples, right?!).

My husband and I filled warmed organic corn tortillas with all the above. The crispness and tartness of the slaw balanced the other mellower ingredients.

We had seconds.

Fig Salsa

fig 1 9.1413Last year, when I enjoyed a bit of a personal fig fest, as I was writing about last week, another thing I made that my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed was a fig salsa. We had green figs as well as dark purple ones, and they were beautiful together. I’m glad I took pictures to remind myself about it.

It was worth making again.

This time, I had all dark purple figs. The figs alone, cut into a dice,  bring so much color—with their dark skin, the pale inner rim, and then the magenta center.

To the diced figs (eight of them), I added half a small white onion, diced; half a jalapeño, minced; about a tablespoon of roughly chopped cilantro. I would’ve squeezed some lime juice in (pretty sure that’s what I used last time), but the lone lime I reached for in my fridge was past its prime! I added a couple squeezes of lemon juice instead, just to add a citrus note.

Tortilla chips to dip. Delicious again.

Tahini and Tofu Patties

tahini 5.25.13

You can do a lot with tahini…though you may not. If you are like me or a couple friends I was talking with recently, you may buy a jar, because you like the idea of it, you know you can make hummus out of it, and there must be more you can do with it, but, nevertheless, after the hummus, or maybe using it as a spread like peanut butter or stirring it into soup, it might sit in the fridge unused for a long time.

Similar to smooth peanut butter in texture, it has a nutty taste and smell, but, made from ground sesame seeds, there’s something richer about it, and a little goes a long way. So recipes for it often include lemons or lemon juice, which balance that richness.

Well, I had a new jar of tahini, and I had lemons. I could’ve made hummus, but when I saw I had tofu, I decided to make patties, and expand my tahini repertoire. And I pulled out cilantro and garlic to go with all that, too.

I thought tahini added to mashed-up tofu would add a nice flavor and also bind it all together. So I added a half-cup of tahini (one-quarter cup at a time to see how much I would need) to a 15-ounce package of extra-firm tofu, which I mashed up til it was all broken up. Then to that, a good handful of chopped cilantro and two minced garlic cloves, salt and pepper.

It held together well, and depending on the size, you can easily get six or seven patties out of it. Because I had sesame seeds, I also coated each side with those, and then set them in the fridge to firm up a little.

I heated canola oil in a pan over medium heat, making the oil a little deeper than just coating the pan. Then, in two batches, I fried the patties, turning them once, cooking them on each side for a good three minutes or so.

A couple broke, but only because of small pieces of tofu I hadn’t crumbled well.

A bit of crunch on the outside,  creamy on the inside because of the tahini, and, of course,  the nutty sesame flavor. I cut the lemon into wedges to squeeze their juice over the patties, which added a brightness and, yes, balanced the richness.

I just had them as they were, but they would be great with a corn tortilla or pita or naan, with just lemon juice squirted over top and the addition of lettuce or thinly sliced cucumbers, or maybe the drizzle of cucumber-yogurt sauce.

And now I have another way to use tahini.