Kalamata olive

vegetable paella

by Heguiberto on July 10, 2013

Yottam Ottolenghi’s Plenty attacks again! His vegetable paella is divine. It is full of color and flavors. If pilaf and paella have the same linguistic root, then I think this vegetable paella must be either an early progenitor of both or perhaps the modern trans-national child of the pair, as it not only uses saffron threads, but also turmeric and chili powders common to Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines: incredible! And then there’s the sherry… Wow.

vegetable paella

vegetable paella

Yotam recommends using Calasparra rice but to be honest I have never heard of it before, so couldn’t even begin to think of where to find it. At any given time my rice pantry will always have few different varieties, so I made do with what I had. My choice was Thai jasmine rice. I selected this kind because I’ve made successful paella before with it. He also recommends using freshly shelled fava beans which would have been great but I was not able to find them in the market. Instead I substituted them for a fresh frozen shelled bag of edamame.

This dish is vegetarian and vegan. So flavorful, your meat eating loved ones will enjoy it too.

vegetable paella

6 tbsp olive oil
1 medium Vidalia onion sliced thinly
1 red pepper cut into strips
1 yellow pepper cut into strips
½ fennel bulb cut into thin strips
4 garlic cloves crushed
2 fresh bay leaves
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp sweet paprika
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp chili powder (cayenne)
¾ cup sherry
1 container of saffron threads (0.020oz)
2 cups Thai Jasmine rice
3 ½ cups vegetable stock – hot
thin half-moon-shaped lemon slices
4 tbsp julienned sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained
8 halves of grilled artichokes, preserved in oil, drained
¾ cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved
1 pint of mixed small heirloom tomatoes, halved
~ 2tbsp chopped parsley
Kosher salt

You need a paella pan or a similar large shallow pan for the dish. On high heat, add olive oil followed by the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 to 8 minutes. Lower the heat to medium, add sweet peppers and fennel and continue cooking for about 10 minutes. Peppers and fennel will soften a bit but still hold their crunch.

Mix in turmeric, bay leaves, paprika. Add rice and mix it again so rice gets some coloring. Stir in saffron and sherry, continue to cook long enough for the sherry juices to be absorbed/evaporated. Add vegetable stock, and kosher salt to taste, lower the temperature and cook for about 18 minutes. Liquid will be almost fully absorbed by the rice. To prevent the rice from breaking refrain from stirring while cooking. Turn off the heat.

Tuck in olives, artichokes, sundried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, lemon slices, then sprinkle with parsley. Let rest, covered, for about 5 minutes. Remove the lid, drizzle with some extra virgin oil and serve.

{ 6 comments }

 

Wow it’s been a while since I wrote regularly for weirdcombinations.  This is my first week “back.”  I miss it and I miss visiting my blogger friends’ blogs.  The reason for the hiatus is that it got super busy at work, plus I had to travel down to Brazil, also for work, in late August through mid-September.  The schedule was crazy while I was there but I made room to see some of my family, which was fantastic.  I hadn’t been back home for about 3 years.  Now it’s been three weeks since my return to San Francisco and things are just starting to slow down.  Whew!!

yellow crook squash and Italian zucchini tart with feta and olives

yellow crook squash and Italian zucchini tart with feta and olives

Part of the problem is that on the very same day I arrived back, I cut one of my fingers very badly on a piece of broken glass from a jar of guava jam while opening my suitcase.  Ugh!  It was a huge mess—glass, guava and blood.  Things might have been better had I not felt completely jetlagged on top of it all.  On the positive side, I’m healing up fine and fortunately, I “smuggled” in several more jars of guava.  It’s a good thing that I’m greedy!

I made this wonderful tart a few days before I left for Brazil.  I used our home-grown yellow crook squash and Italian zucchini.  Then it was the height of squash season and we had a superabundance of these precious things.   The season for zuchs is almost over now but I’m sure that they’re still available somewhere.  This is a beautiful and elegant, thin and delicate tart, despite the bold flavors that Kalamata olives and feta cheese impart.

yellow crook squash and Italian zucchini tart with feta and olives

3 to 4 yellow and green squashes, sliced thinly in the mandolin (keep colors separated in two small bowls)
1 cup good French feta cheese, crumbled
½ cup pitted and halved Kalamata olives
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp fresh thyme
½ tsp fresh oregano
8 to 10 sheets of filo dough at room temperature
Kosher salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
Sprinkles of crushed red pepper
1 cookie tray 12”x17”, lined with foil
Cooking brush

Pre-heat oven to 375F.

Toss individual bowls of squash with salt, black and red pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Set aside.

Brush bottom of tray with olive oil. Lay the first filo sheet over tray then brush with more olive oil.  Lay the second over, brush with more olive oil. Repeat process until all sheets are used. Lay on row of zucchini and then yellow squash on top of filo, to create an attractive pattern, sprinkle with fresh oregano and thyme. Brush the edges of the tart with more olive oil. Place tart in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until squash is cooked but not mushy and the edges lightly browned.  Remove from oven then scatter the olives and feta cheese.  And since I’m a hog for olive oil…. add a drizzle of olive on top too.

It’s great to be back but I already miss everybody in Brazil.  Where is that Star Trek style transporter device when you need it?  Beam me up, Scotty!  Please 🙂

me with two of my sisters relaxing on the beach in the Brazilian winter

me with two of my sisters relaxing on the beach in the Brazilian winter: nice!!!

{ 4 comments }

This recipe is a slightly modified version of the one on the back of my Trader Joe’s “Southern Green Blend” pre-washed and chopped bag of greens. The greens include mustard, turnip, collards and spinach. Usually I just sauté some garlic in olive oil then cook the greens until they’re just beginning to wilt. That’s tasty (I don’t cook my greens to death. I know that’s a popular way in Southern cuisine but I like a bit of texture in mine.) But I was feeling a little bored so thought I‘d try this instead.

spicy mixed greens in tomato, olive garlic sauce

spicy mixed greens in tomato, olive garlic sauce

You’re supposed to use Roma tomatoes and those dull canned black olives as well as Kalamata and the green with pimentos. I didn’t have all that so I did my best. The greens themselves tend to be a bit peppery and bitter. Done this way, the flavors are softened a bit by the sweetness of tomato and the salty tang of olives. The lovely heat comes from the Italian basil, garlic and chile condiment

my used bag of Trader Joe's Southern Greens Blend

my used bag of Trader Joe's Southern Greens Blend

spicy mixed greens in tomato, olive, garlic sauce

3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup olive oil
1 heaping teaspoon (or more) Italian basil, garlic and chile condiment
1 bag Southern Greens or make your own mix
½ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and cut in halves
½ cup green olives with pimentos, sliced
½ small can tomato paste and about twice that much water
Salt and black pepper to taste

Sauté garlic in olive oil with some salt for a minute or so until it begins to cook. Add the Italian basil, garlic and chile condiment and stir. Toss in the olives, tomato paste and water. Simmer for a bit until paste begins to dissolve. Add greens and cook, covered, until the texture is to your liking. Add more salt and pepper as needed.

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Until just this week when the rain finally hit with a vengeance, I’ve been feeling that light joyful mood that I always have in spring-like weather, you know: energetic, hopeful and hungry for something new. That, of course, has inspired me to continue my adventures in the kitchen. So here we are. I made a sun-dried tomato and red bell pepper tapenade as a party dip but had leftovers. The flavor was quite intense, so I thought it would work perfectly as a filling for ravioli.

ravioli filled with sun-dried tomato and red bell pepper tapenade and mozzarella

ravioli filled with sun-dried tomato and red bell pepper tapenade and mozzarella

I know that people shy away from making their own pasta, and I used to be like that, too. Now I love it. Sure it is a bit of a job—mainly the kneading is a pain. But I prefer to think of it as a necessary work-out to get my desired marvelous result. Running the dough through the pasta machine is a snap now that I’ve gotten a replacement clamp to hold the device to my countertop. Plus that part is really quite soothing.

my hand-cranked pasta machine

my hand-cranked pasta machine

I made the dough using the same recipe and technique from my last ravioli post, which I’ll copy-and-paste here to make things easier. This time I took pics of the pasta with each run through the machine so you can see how long it gets. This does take some space in the kitchen as the sheets of dough grow ever longer. I moved a lot of stuff out of the way and covered most of my counters with clean dishtowels before I started with the machine.

The filling was just the tapenade, some mozzarella and a bit of parmesan cheese. After I boiled my ravioli for about 5 minutes; I lightly sautéed it in olive oil, garlic and fresh spinach. Mmmm!

ravioli filled with sun-dried tomato and red bell pepper tapenade and mozzarella

for the dough:

2 cups flour (I used all purpose)
3 eggs

for the filling:

2 red bell peppers, stems, seeds and ribs removed, cut into large chunks
3 cloves garlic
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil
2 tbsp olive oil
12 kalamata olives, pits removed
Pinch dried oregano
Salt and black pepper to taste
1/3 pound part-skim mozzarella
2 tbsp parmesan

for the sauté:

3 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch whole spinach leaves, large stems discarded
5 cloves garlic, sliced
Salt and black pepper to taste

to prepare dough for ravioli:

Usually you’re supposed to pour the flour on a work-surface then mix in the egg. Counter space is at a premium in my tiny kitchen so I beat the eggs for a couple minutes in a small bowl, then mixed them with the flour in another. Then I dumped everything onto a floured surface and kneaded it for eight (8) minutes. (I set my kitchen timer.) The kneading is the key step and really it is sort of magical as about seven minutes on, suddenly the flour-egg dough starts to do something amazing! It turns into pasta! You can feel it in your hands literally changing. Sure, that is what you’re making so should not come as a surprise to anyone. Nevertheless, whenever I make pasta, I am always stunned that it actually works!

my lump of dough after eight minutes kneading

my lump of dough after eight minutes kneading

Roll dough into a ball then cut it into six equal pieces. With your pasta machine on the widest setting, roll each piece through once. Then fold the edges of each piece together towards the middle and pass it through the machine again, still at the widest setting. Repeat with each piece so that they’ve all been rolled and folded about three times. When not working with a piece, lay it on a clean kitchen towel and be sure not to let it touch any of the other dough.

After that, reduce the width of your pasta maker by one notch and pass each piece through. They will slowly start to get longer. Repeat at next lower notch and so on until you get to the penultimate. By now, your dough should be quite thin and very long. Once you’ve finished set aside.

dough pieces after first setting on machine

dough pieces after first setting on machine

dough pieces after second setting of machine

dough pieces after second setting of machine

dough pieces after third setting on machine

dough pieces after third setting on machine

dough pieces after fourth setting of machine

dough pieces after fourth setting of machine

dough pieces after fifth setting of machine

dough pieces after fifth setting of machine

they're getting big now on the sixth setting

they're getting big now after the sixth setting

the seventh setting is getting blurry--I must have been more tired than I thought

the seventh setting is getting blurry--I must have been more tired than I thought

the dough after the eighth setting--we're ready to go

the dough after the eighth setting--we're ready to go

to prepare filling:

First make tapenade by sautéing red bell peppers and garlic in olive oil until tender. Add to food processor with sun-dried tomatoes, olives, oregano, salt and black pepper. If too thick, add a bit more olive oil. I used about one and a half cups.

Shred mozzarella. Mix cheeses with tapenade.

to assemble ravioli:

placing the filling on the pasta

placing the filling on the pasta

finished glider-shaped raviolis

finished glider-shaped raviolis

Place about a teaspoon full of filling along prepared dough strips, roughly three inches apart from one another. To seal, dab your finger in some water, rub water along edges of dough and between mounds of filling. Carefully fold dough over filling, press down to remove air pockets. Cut between mounds of filling to create individual ravioli. I folded mine into triangular shapes, thinking of our recent adventure with hang-gliders. Set aside but be sure not to let them touch one another. Makes about three dozen.

to make final dish:

Boil ravioli in salted water about 5 minutes. Meanwhile sauté garlic in olive oil for about a minute. Add spinach, salt and black pepper. Drain ravioli and toss into wilted spinach. Fold together and serve.

{ 5 comments }

Portuguese businessman’s salt cod aka bacalhau à Gomes de Sá

Portuguese businessman’s salt cod aka bacalhau à Gomes de Sá

This is another Portuguese salt cod recipe which I adore. Legend says that it was created by a businessman from the northern city of Porto, hence the name Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá. It is a complete success all over Brazil and a comfort food for me. It reminds me of the holidays from my childhood. My brothers and sisters would all come home and my mom would make special delectable meals for the 13 of us! Lots of activity in the kitchen preparing meals for a big family! This was one of the best.

Portuguese businessman’s salt cod aka bacalhau à Gomes de Sá

2lb dry salt cod
4 large Yukon gold potatoes
4 red bell peppers, cut in quarters, stems and seeds removed
1 bay leaf
1 tsp black peppercorn
1 cup olive oil
4 tbsp canola oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
3 eggs boiled – how to boil eggs?
½ cup pitted Kalamata olives
½ bunch Italian parsley, chopped fine
3 medium sized white onions, 2 of them cut thinly in half moon shape
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt

Soak cod in cold water for about 24 hours changing water about 4 times. Place cod in a large saucepan, fill with fresh water; add bay leaf, peppercorns and one whole onion. Bring to a boil then reduce temperature to medium and simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer cod with part of the cooking water to a bowl and let it cool down to room temperature. Retain remaining cooking water in pan. Drain, shred cod into bite size pieces. Remove and discard skin and any bones.

cooked, desalinated cod

cooked, desalinated cod

prepared salt cod

prepared salt cod

Return saucepan to the burner. Add whole potatoes, top with more water if needed. Bring to a boil and cook until soft by not crumbly. Mine took about 25 minutes. Scoop potatoes out of the pan, and let them cool in a colander. Once cool enough to handle, peel and cut into thick slices then set aside, keep warm.

Follow the link above to boil the eggs.

Meanwhile add canola oil to a pan that is wide enough to lay quartered peppers skin down in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt, cover, bring temperature to high. Then lower it and cook/poach peppers until soft and skins are wrinkled, about 15-20 minutes. Do not burn them. Remove from heat, let cool, peel and discard skins. Set aside. Reserve the oil for other cooking purposes.

Wipe the pan with a paper towel, add ¾ cup olive oil, sliced onion, some salt and cook on low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring every now and then. Onions should be soft but not browned. Towards the last minute add crushed garlic followed by the prepared cod. Put in parsley, bell and black peppers. Carefully fold in potatoes and heat through.

Transfer to a warm serving bowl, garnish with slices of egg and Kalamata olives. Drizzle remaining olive oil over everything.

{ 12 comments }

I always think of stuffed veggies as an elegant treat. When I was younger, they mystified me. How in the world did anyone figure out how to fill these delectable creations just right? Now that I’m officially “middle aged” and thus more experienced in the kitchen, the question no longer interests me. Instead, I’m quite comfortable improvising.

yellow bell peppers stuffed with mung bean, feta and fresh herbs

yellow bell peppers stuffed with mung bean, feta and fresh herbs

And that is what these mung bean filled peppers are all about. I had the ingredients at home already and sort of made the recipe up as I went along. I liked it so well, that I kept snacking on the filling while I was preparing the dish. Mmmm.

Typically, poblanos are my favorite pepper to stuff, as I prefer their earthy, smoky flavors over the plain sweet bell peppers. Mine were too tiny for that. So instead I chopped one up and sautéed it to bring those tastes to the dish.

bake any remaining filling in ramekins for an attractive presentation

bake any remaining filling in ramekins for an attractive presentation

my big jug of dried green mung beans

my big jug of dried green mung beans

yellow bell peppers stuffed with mung bean, feta and fresh herbs

4 to 6 medium to large yellow bell peppers
3 tbsp olive oil plus more
1 poblano pepper; stems, ribs and seeds removed; chopped fine
2 pieces green garlic, green and white parts, chopped fine
4 scallions, green and white parts, chopped fine
1 small bunch Italian parsley, chopped fine
1 small bunch mint, chopped fine
3 cups prepared mung beans
½ lb. French feta or similar that will melt easily
2 tbsp pignioli nuts
12 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
Salt and black pepper to taste
Pinch of cayenne

I usually start with dry mung beans. This time, I had some that I’d already prepared, frozen and awaiting this delicious recipe. These lovely beans don’t require soaking. Just boil in water for about 30 to 45 minutes. That’s it. They should be completely drained before using here.

To prepare yellow bell peppers for stuffing, remove tops and interior seeds and ribs with a paring knife.
Steam for ten minutes then rinse to cool.

Pre heat oven to 350F.

In a large skillet, add olive oil then sauté green garlic, scallion, chopped poblano pepper and a pinch of salt for a few minutes until they soften. Add mung bean, cover and warm through. Add feta, mint, parsley, pignoli, olives and mix everything together. Adjust salt and add black pepper. Remember for the filling to taste right with the unsalted peppers, it should be slightly salty on its own.

Gently fill yellow bell peppers with mung bean mix and place on a baking dish. If you have extra filling (like I did) you can bake that in ramekins for an elegant presentation, or in any baking dish. Finish with some more olive oil and dust the filled peppers with cayenne.

Bake about 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. We had ours with plain basmati rice.

{ 4 comments }

chilled summer couscous

by Stevie on December 9, 2011

I didn’t make this recipe in the summertime, which was a mistake. It comes from David Rocco’s Made in Italy cookbook. I was completely attracted to the dish because of its delightful combination of many colorful veggies and the fact that it isn’t cooked. You just mix everything together and let it sit in the refrigerator for several hours. So this is “raw cooking” so far as I can tell. That’s unusual for weirdcombinations.

chilled summer couscous

chilled summer couscous

That said, the amount of couscous was a bit daunting for two people. I’d cut it in half or even in quarters next time. Plus, since it was chilled, it wasn’t quite right for our cooler weather. But this would be perfect to throw together the night before a summertime wine country excursion, so I’m going to file it away for then.

chilled summer couscous

2 cups couscous
½ cup olive oil
24oz can chopped tomatoes with juice
Juice of one lemon
1 red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
About a dozen cherry tomatoes, in halves
12 kalamata olives in halves
1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
Salt and black pepper to taste

Mix everything together except half of the basil. Wrap and refrigerate for several hours. Stir at least once. When it is time to serve, add remaining basil. You can have this family style or mold and plate it for a more elegant presentation.

{ 9 comments }

New York style pizza with cilantro basil pesto, goat cheese, Kalamata olives and fresh arugula

I made this pizza for company last week. I guess I was thinking about it after reading Heavenly’s post about Lombardi’s Pizza in New York. Ah, New York!

Callie and Ellie were visiting from Virginia. Ellie is a real fan of Italian food. On that particular day, we were taking a break from sightseeing and revitalizing ourselves over several games of Hearts and bottles of Purple Haze (the raspberry wheat beer, not weed!) Making Hegui’s pizza dough was a snap. I used dry active yeast instead of the moist. If you don’t have a leisurely afternoon of casual home-entertainment in which to let your dough rise, you can always go for the store bought kind. The topping idea was an “invention” inspired by some leftover herbs. I had a lot of cilantro and basil lying around: really this is just a cilantro-added version of basil pesto American style.

I had enough dough for two. For the second, Hegui made the tomato sauce from his last pizza post to which I added shredded mozzarella, sautéed crimini mushrooms and fresh basil leaves tossed over on top after we pulled it from the oven (Like Hegui’s “pizza number 1” but with mushrooms instead of olives). Both versions were yummy. The “green” one was fresh, tangy and almost tasted crisp, with the cheese smoothing out and balancing the flavors. The “red” tomato version was hearty and earthy.

New York style pizza with basil cilantro pesto, goat cheese, Kalamata olives and fresh arugula

For the dough:

Either start with pre-made dough or you can follow Hegui’s recipe on this link. I did the later.

For the cilantro basil pesto:

1 medium bunch cilantro
1 medium bunch basil
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp Kosher salt
black and red pepper to taste
juice of one lemon
olive oil
¼ cup parmesan cheese
¼ cup almonds

Put all ingredients except cheese and nuts in food processor. Process until smooth. You’ll have to gradually add olive oil to get the right consistency. I think that I used about a quarter cup. Next process in nuts; then, the cheese.

To prepare pizza:

1 pizza dough (above)
cilantro basil pesto (above)
¼ cup goat cheese (I used an inexpensive chèvre)
12 Kalamata olives, pitted and cut in halves
1 small bunch arugula

Pre-heat oven with pizza stone to 485F.

Stretch pizza to desired shape being sure to leave some extra dough to form a crust. Cover a wooden board with corn meal. Place dough on top. Spread with cilantro basil pesto. Dot with goat cheese. Sprinkle with olives. Gently slide from board to pizza stone. Bake 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and decorate with fresh arugula.

{ 1 comment }

sundried tomato pesto

July 12, 2010

This makes a wonderful and intensely flavorful spread for sandwiches and can kick up tomato dishes and pasta sauces into high gear. It’s a simplified variation of grilled vegetable tapenade, though if you had some of that lying around, it would work perfectly well, too. sundried tomato pesto 1 jar of sundried tomato packed in […]

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