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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(Fish-free) Tapenade

Our holiday in the South of France certainly got the taste buds tingling with sunny Mediterranean flavours; think tomatoes, gorgeous ripe fruit, flowers, wild herbs and fat olives. Tastes which delight the palate and tempt the eyes. Tapenade is a great flavour hit, but is often seasoned with anchovy making it unsuitable for veggies like myself. This version carries all the requisite punch, swapping salty anchovies for capers, mustard and balsamic vinegar.

My mini-blender seems to have given up the ghost, so the resulting paste is chunkier than I hoped it would be, still tastes great though!

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

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makes 1 small bowlful

  • 150g black olives, pitted, rinsed and drained
  • 1 dessert spoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tbsps good quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt, to taste

– Blitz the olives in a blender/food processor

– Add the other ingredients and pulse until well combined

– Taste and adjust the seasoning.

– Keep refrigerated until needed.

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