food for thought

by michelle

Posts Tagged ‘olives

red lentil pasta + salad

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Red lentils are an excellent source of protein and this vegetarian pasta is satisfying and so full of flavour.

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 finely diced onion, 1 finely diced carrot and an equivalent amount of finely diced celery. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent. Add 1 tablespoon of tomato paste and cook for a few more minutes. Deglaze the pan with some white wine and cook it all away. Now add a tin of chopped tomatoes and 1 cup of water. Add 3-4 cloves of crushed garlic, 2 teaspoons of ground cumin, ¾ of a cup of red lentils and some chopped green olives to taste. Bring to boil and simmer until the lentils are cooked, adding more water as necessary. Season with salt to taste and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and toss it with the sauce adding some pasta water until the sauce sticks well to the pasta. Serve with a generous sprinkling of feta cheese. 

I served mine with a fresh salad of spinach, zucchini and pine nuts with a simple olive oil and lemon juice dressing.

Written by michelle picker

August 7, 2019 at 12:12 am

snapper with beetroot and olives

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David has a way with fish. This amazingly colourful dish was not only stunning to look at but absolutely delicious too.

In a medium bowl combine 2 tablespoons of olive oil with 2 crushed cloves of garlic, a 5cm (2″) piece of finely grated fresh ginger, the finely grated zest of 1 lemon and the crushed seeds of 15 cardamom pods. Mix to a rough paste, then add 6 snapper fillets and coat them with the marinade. Cover and allow to marinate for at least an hour. Meanwhile bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add 3 beetroots and cook for 40 minutes (15 minutes in a pressure cooker) until soft. Drain and when the beetroot is cool enough to handle, peel and discard the skin, then chop the flesh into 1cm (⅓”) dice. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large fry pan over medium-high heat and fry one large finely diced shallot until it’s soft and caramelised. Add 6 cardamom pods and 1 teaspoon of ground cumin and fry briefly. Add the beetroot, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 10 pitted and halved black olives and ¼ of a teaspoon of salt. Combine well then remove from the heat and set aside in a warm place. Place 85g (3 oz) of flour in a bowl and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove the fish from it’s marinade, discarding the marinade, and toss it in the flour to coat it on all sides, shaking off any excess. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 30g (1 oz) of butter in a large fry-pan over medium-high heat. When the butter starts to foam, fry the fish flesh-side down for two minutes. Turn and fry for another two minutes until cooked through. Remove the fish from the pan and place it on a serving platter. Season with a sprinkle of salt and a squeeze of lemon juice. Spoon the beetroot mixture over the fish and garnish with parsley to serve.

*Adapted from a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe.

Written by michelle picker

September 27, 2017 at 12:21 am

Posted in fish & seafood

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On a recent trip to southern France, I was delighted to see my friends Franbi and Milan who invited me to a wonderful lunch. The starter was Franbi’s pissaladière, a traditional onion, olive and anchovy tart which originated in Nice.


I don’t have Franbi’s recipe but I hope she approves of this one. To make this tart you can use ready-made puff pastry. Place it in a greased pie dish or oven tray and refrigerate while you prepare the filling. Heat some olive oil in a heavy pan and gently fry 4 large sliced onions until wilted. Add some sprigs of fresh thyme, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and continue to cook until the onions are caramelised. If you want to hurry this along you can also add a little brown sugar at this stage. Spread the onions onto the prepared pastry then lay good quality anchovies over the top in a criss-cross pattern. Place Kalamata olive halves in the spaces between the anchovies. Bake the tart in a moderate oven until the pastry is crisp and golden brown.

Written by michelle picker

September 19, 2016 at 5:48 am

baked salmon with oven chips and vegetables

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This is a lovely way to cook an entire meal in one oven tray. Most of this recipe comes from Jamie Oliver, the expert at quick and simple meals.


Preheat the oven to 260℃ (500℉). Top and tail 200g (7 oz) of green beans and blanch them in boiling water until just tender. Put them in a bowl with 300g (10oz) of cherry tomatoes, 170g (6oz) of pitted black olives and a handful of fresh basil leaves and toss them in a little olive oil. Boil 4-6 potatoes until just cooked through. Peel and slice into chips while still hot and allow them to dry thoroughly. Place in a bowl, toss them in some oil and season with salt and pepper. Wash and dry 4 salmon fillets then place them at one end of an oven tray. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with a squeeze of lemon juice and some olive oil on both sides. Place the vegetables in the centre of the tray and lay some anchovy fillets (a small can full) over them. Place the chips at the other end of the baking tray. Bake for 12-15 minutes depending on the thickness of the salmon filets and serve with wedges of lemon.

Written by michelle picker

April 17, 2014 at 6:07 am

chicken tagine

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A wonderfully fragrant one-pot meal!

In a tagine or a heavy saucepan, drizzle a little olive oil then place a layer of onion rings followed by a layer of carrot rounds. Now place the chicken pieces over these (I used drumsticks) and season with ¼ of a teaspoon of saffron, ½ a teaspoon of ground ginger, 2 tablespoons of pitted green olives, a finely sliced piece of preserved lemon and some freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle with some more olive oil and top with ½ a bunch of roughly chopped coriander (cilantro). Cover and place over low heat until the chicken is well cooked and all the flavours have combined. Serve with couscous or rice.

Written by michelle picker

January 18, 2012 at 2:51 pm

party pastries

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This patchwork quilt of French style savoury pastries kept the food coming at our recent party.

Made on sheets of store bought puff pastry they were baked ahead of time and served at room temperature. Here are the six different toppings:


artichoke, green olive and pecorino cheese;




tomatoes and onions topped with chorizo, corn and green peppers;




mushrooms cooked in cream with nutmeg and coriander;




spicy middle eastern lamb;




spinach, basil pesto and bocconcini;




and tomato, anchovies and black olives.

Written by michelle picker

October 18, 2011 at 9:08 am


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We’ve  just marinated this year’s olives. It’s taken a lot of experimenting to decide on the final method. The first thing was trying them green (unripe) or black (ripe). My preference is for green as the olives are still firm and have a nice nutty flavour. This means, because they’re unripe, that they need to soak in water, changed every day, for 10 to 20 days (an esky with a tap on it makes this task easier). This is the worst part, but is soon forgotten. The next stage is to salt them and I do this in brine. I weigh the olives, put them in a jar and add a tenth of their weight in rock salt before filling the jar with water. I push the olives down with a smaller glass jar inside the neck of the larger one, as any floating olives might become mouldy. At this stage you can forget about them for 4 months! A lot of recipes suggest 12 weeks, but I find them improved as well as less salty with a few extra weeks. This is what my olives look like after salting.


Now for the fun part. I make sure everything I put into my marinade is dry as we usually have quite a few kilos and by the time we eat them all, ingredients like fresh garlic and lemon rind can go slimy or mouldy. I’ve put bay leaves, peppercorns, whole coriander seeds, dried garlic granules plus dry chilli in some, rigani (Greek oregano) in others and a small jar with rosemary. All are well covered with extra virgin olive oil which will also taste even better after having all those olives in it. Here are some of the freshly marinated olives.

Written by michelle picker

October 20, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Posted in miscellaneous

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