Green olive tapenade

20140727-080955.jpg

 

I seem to always veer towards Mediterranean flavours, but particularly so when the sun is shining – must be all those holidays over the years to various regions of France with my lovely other half that has equated sunshine with the flavours of the Med.

I have to say that it took me some time to come round to olives – I couldn’t bear them when I was younger, so much so I’d pick off an individual one on a pizza and leave it looking forlorn on the side of the plate! To me they just seemed so very salty and unappetising! Then, I’m not sure why, but in my mid twenties I was brave and gave an olive a chance – maybe my taste buds had matured, or perhaps it was a particularly good olive, but there has been no turning back, I now love olives (except bad quality, over salty ones!)

Tapenade is a wonderful savoury spread/dip but is so often fishy with anchovies, or contains traces of nuts – besides anything freshly homemade has to be far tastier – right? This simple green olive tapenade makes a wonderful addition to any sandwich, would be great to stuff vegetables such as mushrooms or simply to dip breadsticks. I have given 2 variations, one using capers which gives the most authentic flavour, or one using white wine vinegar for a more subtle kick.

Green Olive Tapenade (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

20140727-081234-29554601.jpg

Makes 1 small bowlful

  • 1 cup green olives (rinsed if kept in brine)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tbsp capers, roughly chopped OR 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard (optional)
  • Sprig of fresh thyme, finely chopped (about 1 tbsp)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste

– In a food processor, whizz together the olives, garlic, mustard, capers/vinegar and thyme until well chopped.
– With the motor running drizzle in the oil until it makes the desired consistency. It should be firm enough to spread (ie not liquid) but soft enough to dip in. Like the consistency of tomato purée. Taste and season if necessary.

 

20140727-081230-29550744.jpg

 

 

 

Brilliant barbecue sauce

20140626-190337.jpg The weather has been glorious (never a given in the UK, even in the summer!) – perfect for picnics and barbecues. I think a barbecue needs more than the grill and a few salad sides, it also needs a great sauce! Used to marinate, baste or as a condiment this sauce delivers all the punch and power required. In my mind a barbecue sauce needs to be sweet, salty, sour, tangy, spicy with tons of umami – this sauce certainly has that flavour profile! It also keeps well for a few weeks in the fridge – perfect! So fire up that barbecue and enjoy! Barbecue Sauce (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, can be soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian, vegan) 20140626-190316.jpgMakes a small jar ful, multiply as necessary

  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce (or use 1 tsp marmite if avoiding soya)
  • 3 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 tsp English mustard powder (leave out if mustard a problem)
  • 1 tsp vegetarian Worcester sauce
  • 1 tsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Dried herbs of choice, I used herbs de Provence
  • Chilli (optional)

– Sweat off the onion in the oil until soft but not coloured – Add the garlic and continue to cook until fragrant. –  Add all the other ingredients and cook for a few minutes. – Taste and adjust as desired. – Store in a sterilised jar in the fridge 20140626-190251.jpg

Smoked Paprika and Parsley Falafel Patties (with Lemon Egg-free Mayo)

For some reason I got to thinking about the combination of smoked paprika and parsley (I do think about food a lot on my long, gruelling commute!) and pondered how I could combine them in a interesting way. Obviously smoked paprika works perfectly in stews or sauces, but I had a feeling that some kind of patty would also work well. In fact these little burgers of chickpeas, parsley and smoked paprika work a treat and will make a good choice for a picnic or barbecue. They work especially well with the lemon and garlic mayo. The only question is what to call them – they’re a kind of falafel as they’re made of chickpeas, a kind of burger, patty, cakes – in the end I opted for falafel patties to cover as many bases as possible!

Smoked Paprika and Parsley Falafel Patties (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, soya-free, vegetarian and vegan – to make gluten-free use gluten-free flour)

IMG_5134

makes 6

  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsps smoked paprika, use the sweet variety unless you like it HOT!
  • 1 tin chickpeas, drained (or use soaked and cooked dried beans – I just didn’t have the time!)
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • splash of red wine vinegar
  • big handful of parsley, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tbsp smoky chipotle sauce (optional)
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon

– Fry the shallot in the oil until soft

– Stir in the garlic and paprika and cook until fragrant, set aside

– Blitz the chickpeas in a food processor until resembling breadcrumbs.

– Add all the other ingredients and pulse until well combined

– Turn into a bowl and place in the fridge for at least 1/2 an hour to firm up

– Form into 6 patties and leave in the fridge until ready to use

– Fry in a little sunflower oil until golden brown

– Drain on kitchen paper and serve with the lemon and parsley mayo.

Lemon and Garlic Egg-free Mayo

IMG_5139

  • 2-3 tbsps egg-free mayo
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • salt
  • 1/2 clove garlic, minced

– Combine all the ingredients

IMG_5137

Salsa Verde

We seems to have been eating a lot of wintery, stodgy fare this January – but the sight of some welcome sun and snowdrops popping up has inspired a hint of spring in my cooking. What better way to add some sunshine to a meal than heaps of fresh herbs in a brilliant bright green sauce? And with piquant gherkins and capers you have something truly vibrant.

Normally served with meat or fish, I think this rustic salsa is perfect with roasted Mediterranean vegetables. It also makes an awesome potato salad.

Salsa Verde (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

IMG_4267Makes plenty for 4 people

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp capers, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup gerkins/cornichons, finely chopped
  • 2 large handfuls of parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch of basil, chopped
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2-3 tbsps red wine vinegar
  • 6-8 tbsps extra virgin olive oil, depending on desired consistency
  • salt and pepper

– Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.

– Taste well, adjusting the vinegar, seasoning and olive according to how you like it.

– Cover until ready to use.

– Best eaten on the day it’s made.

IMG_4272IMG_4320