Tapenade couscous salad

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I’ve had a recent hankering for all things olive – I developed a taste for olives only in my mid-twenties and it was definitely a slow burner – starting off with eating one off a pizza to a nibble now and then. Now I sometimes just really want an olive or two!

This salad is delightfully different – bringing the concept of a vegetarian tapenade to a plate of giant couscous. It was partially about using up what I had in the cupboard but the results are a rather stunning salad and a nice contrast to a usual platter. I’d definitely recommend loads of parsley for added freshness and well as vitamins.

Tapenade Giant Couscous Salad (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, fish-free, vegetarian and vegan)

tapenade couscous salad

  • 100g giant couscous
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 200ml water
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 1/4 cup chopped black olives, I like Greek Kalimantan olives
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced or chopped
  • Large handful of parsley
  1. Soak the red onion in ice cold water to remove some of the ‘bite’.
  2. Dry fry the couscous in 1tbsp olive oil until golden. Pour in the water and balsamic and stir until absorbed. Taste, if not cooked through, add a little more liquid and continue to stir until cooked through (this will take 15 or so minutes)
  3. Drizzle over the oil, and a little more balsamic if you like, leave to cool.
  4. Drain and pat dry the onions. Stir all the ingredients into the couscous and ideally let sit for half an hour at room temperature for the favours to meld.

giant couscous with tapenade flavours - vegetarian

Green olive tapenade

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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)

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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.

 

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Blinis with Lentil Caviar

I had intended on posting this recipe before NYE, but what with Christmas and school holidays I just didn’t get round to it. Don’t let that stop you from trying this rather experimental dish as it totally works. Well, I can only say that having never tasted caviar – it’s just my interpretation of how a vegetarian caviar might taste (a bit salty, a bit tangy from horseradish, but certainly not fishy!). Either way I think the puy lentils really look the part.

The blinis also work beautifully – I chose to use wholemeal flour rather than buckwheat, but you still get the wholesome substance that buckwheat would give with none of the trouble of sourcing an unusual ingredient. We also chose to serve some with soya cream cheese and a dollop of chilli jam – something some friends used to do with conventional blinis, and definitely a winning combination.

Blinis (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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makes about 12-20, depending on size

  • 140g wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp dried fast action yeast
  • 3 tbsps dairy-free spread (melted)
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsps oat milk (warmed to body temperature)
  • 1/4 tsp salt

– Whisk the yeast and salt into the flour in a large bowl.

– Pour in the warm oat milk and melted spread. Whisk and set aside to start bubbling (at least 30 mins)

– Heat a blini pan, or a heavy based frying pan. Wipe with a smear of dairy-free spread.

– Cook tbsp dollops of mixture on one side until bubbles appear on the uncooked surface. Flip and cook the other side until slightly browned and cooked through.

– Keep warm until ready to use. Or they reheat well with 20 seconds in the microwave.

Lentil caviar (dairy-free, egg-free, nut=free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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makes a generous bowlful

  • 1/2 cup Puy lentils, cooked until tender
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsps olive oil
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 2 tbsps horseradish, freshly grated (or prepared horseradish to taste)
  • 1 tsp salt

– Add all the ingredients to the hot, freshly cooked lentils.

– Leave to marinate and cool.

– Serve as a salad, or atop of blinis with some soya cream cheese

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