Olive~Me & Co.’s Watermelon Feta Bites with Basil Olive Oil

watermelon feta bites

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 cup Olive~Me & Co.’s Basil olive oil
  • watermelon, sliced into 1 inch cubes
  • block of feta cheese, cut into ¼ inch cubes
  • salt (optional)
  • freshly ground black pepper (optional)
  • basil leaves for garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Arrange watermelon cubes on serving tray and place a feta cube on each
  2. Drizzle with Olive~Me & Co’s Basil Olive Oil
  3. Lightly salt and/or pepper each set if desired (i.e. if your feta is already very salty, omit the salt)
  4. Garnish and Serve

Ratatouille times four!

ratatouille2

Image from http://www.theworldinmykitchen.com/

When it comes to summer and fall cooking I love love my vegetables, but enjoy something different from the usual salad / bbq meals to a more hearty comfort food with depth and flavours. Hence one of my favorites, Ratatouille!

This is a lovely summer dish, even served as a side dish or cold. Some of my favorite vegetables are fall root vegetables, so I take the traditional recipe and add culinary delights like squash, sweet potatoes and parsnips and even sausage to it! What I Love about ratatouille is it’s complex flavours ….you really can’t go wrong with it! Ratatouille is a traditional French Provençal stewed vegetable dish, originating in Nice. Though referred to commonly as ratatouille niçoise, ratatouille is popular among the entire Mediterranean coast as an easy summer dish. It is typically prepared as a stew with each vegetable being sautéed to enhance their flavors before being layered into a baking dish and baked for several minutes to complete the cooking process.

There are many versions of ratatouille. Some more traditional – sautéing the vegetables separately and then bringing them together towards the end or sautéing them all at once. It’s up to you!! A few tips that I use when making it; I use a cast iron frying pan or dutch oven for sautéing the vegetables and I use a more robust olive oil like our House Blend or Koroneiki. Also, DON’T SKIMP ON THE OLIVE OIL! Be generous, it only adds more wonderful flavor to the recipe. The olive oil is important because in ratatouille, it’s not used merely to stop the vegetables from sticking to the pan, it’s a seasoning. Use a bold cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil that tastes like the olives it comes from, not some cheap brand with no taste or flavour. I also will use our Rosemary and Roasted Garlic olive oil to enhance the flavours and add a little fig balsamic at the end..

But most importantly, ratatouille needs time and patience. Time for the garlic, onions and bell peppers to caramelize, making them sweet and developing that signature taste that seasons the rest of the stew. Time for the ripe and colourful vegetables to soften and of course time to coax the core flavour from each ingredient, allowing them to intermingle and reduce before being absorbed by the stew.

Below is my favorite recipe by Julia Child, followed by a second variation and I also added a hot pot version of ratatouille and a fall squash version! Don’t forget to season as desired and you can ALWAYS add some heat (like our Habanero Olive Oil for example) !

 

Julia Child’s Ratatouille Recipe- From Mastering The Art Of French Cooking

Serve with nothing but a hunk of warm bread and a wedge of Gruyere.  Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. eggplant
  • 1/lb. zucchini
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6-7 tablespoons Olive~Me & Co Koroneiki or House Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil, more if necessary
  • 1/2 lb. (about 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced yellow onions
  • 1 pound firm red tomatoes, or 1 1/2 cups pulp
  • 2 (about 1 cup) sliced green bell peppers
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Peel the eggplant and cut into lengthwise slices 3/8 inch thick, about 3 inches long, and 1 inch wide.  Scrub the zucchini, slice off the two ends, and cut the zucchini into slices about the same size as the eggplant slices.  Place the vegetables in a bowl and toss with the salt.  Let stand for 30 minutes.  Drain.  Dry each slice in a towel.
  2. One layer at a time, saute the eggplant, and then the zucchini in hot olive oil for about a minute on each side to brown very lightly.  Remove to a side dish.
  3. In the same skillet, cook the onions and peppers slowly in olive oil for about 10 minutes, or until tender but not browned.  Stir in the garlic and season to taste.
  4. Slice the tomato pulp into 3/8 inch strips.  Lay them over the onions and peppers.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cover the skillet and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, or until tomatoes have begun to render their juice.  Uncover, baste the tomatoes with the juices, raise heat and boil off several minutes, until juice has almost entirely evaporated.
  5. Place a third of the tomato mixture in the bottom of the casserole and sprinkle over it 1 tablespoon of parsley.  Arrange half of the eggplant and zucchini on top, then half the remaining tomatoes and parsley.  Put in the rest of the eggplant and zucchini, and finish with the remaining tomatoes and parsley.
  6. Cover the casserole and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.  Uncover, tip casserole and baste with the rendered juices.  Correct seasoning, if necessary.  Raise heat slightly and cook uncovered for about 15 minutes more, basting several times, until juices have evaporated leaving a spoonful or two of flavored olive oil.  Be careful of your heat; do not let the vegetables scorch in the bottom of the casserole.
  7. Set aside uncovered.  Reheat slowly at serving time or serve cold.

 

Ratatouille Recipe #2
(serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 1  large eggplant, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 1  large zucchini, sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more
  • ¾ cup Olive~Me & Co Koroneiki or House Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
  • 5  sprigs thyme
  • 1  large onion, halved, sliced ½ inch thick
  • 1  red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, coarsely chopped
  • 2  garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup torn basil leaves

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Toss eggplant, zucchini, and 2 tsp. salt in a colander. Let sit 30 minutes, then pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Heat ¼ cup oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy ovenproof pot over medium-high. Add half of eggplant and zucchini and cook, stirring constantly, until vegetables begin to take on color, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Repeat with ¼ cup oil and remaining eggplant and zucchini.
  3. Tie thyme sprigs together with kitchen twine. Heat remaining ¼ cup oil in same pot and cook onion, bell pepper, garlic, and thyme, stirring occasionally, until onion is beginning to brown and is softened, 8–10 minutes. Add half of tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in zucchini and eggplant, then top with remaining 1 pint tomatoes (do not stir); season with salt and pepper. Transfer pot to oven and roast until all vegetables are softened and tomatoes have begun to burst, 15–20 minutes.
  4. Remove thyme bundle. Transfer to a serving platter and top with basil and grated gruyere cheese!

 

Hot Pot Ratatouille

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp Olive~Me & Co Koroneiki or House Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 red onions, chopped into 2cm dice
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 red peppers, cut into 2cm dice
  • 3 courgettes, cut into 2cm dice
  • 1 aubergine, cut into 2cm dice
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 3 potatoes, thinly sliced
  • ¼ nutmeg, grated
  • 150ml double cream
  • small bunch basil, chopped
  • 85g Gruyère (or vegetarian alternative), grated

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a shallow flameproof casserole dish or pan. Add the onions and cook for 2 mins, then tip in the garlic, peppers, courgettes and aubergine. Cook over a medium heat for 10 mins (adding a splash of water if the dish looks dry), until the vegetables are soft.
  2. Stir in the tomatoes and 4 tbsp water. Season well. Cover and leave to bubble gently for 15 mins. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.
  3. Meanwhile, tip the potato slices into a bowl. Season with salt, pepper and the nutmeg, then pour over the cream. Toss everything to coat. Remove the casserole dish from the heat and stir in the basil. Lay the potato slices on top of the ratatouille, creating a spiral pattern, then pour over any remaining cream. Place in the oven, uncovered, for 40 mins.
  4. Remove from the oven and increase heat to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Scatter over the cheese and bake for a further 20 mins until golden and bubbling. Serve with salad, if you like.

 

Fall Squash Ratatouille Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 red bell pepper
  •  1 yellow bell pepper
  •  1 green bell pepper
  •  2 to 3 leeks
  •  1 small butternut squash
  •  1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
  •  1/4 cup Olive~Me & Co Koroneiki or House Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  •  2 tsp dried basil
  •  1 tsp salt
  •  1 tsp dried thyme
  •  1 tsp crumbled rosemary
  •  1 lemon
  •  1 tsp granulated sugar
  •  2 garlic cloves, minced
  •  3 tbsp Olive~Me & Co Koroneiki or House Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  •  1 cup shredded fresh basil, optional
  •  1 cup crumbled feta, optional

Instructions

  1. Arrange oven racks in top and bottom third of oven. Preheat to 400F (200C).
  2. Slice zucchini in half lengthwise, then into large chunks. Chop unpeeled eggplant into similar size chunks. Coarsely chop peppers. Slice off and discard dark green tops and roots from leeks. Slice leeks in half lengthwise. Fan out and rinse under water. Thinly slice. Peel squash. (Microwaving on high for a couple of min. makes this easier.) Cut into pieces same size as zucchini. Place veggies and tomatoes in a very large bowl. Add olive oil, basil, salt, thyme and rosemary. Toss to coat. Spread over two large baking sheets.
  3. Roast in top and bottom third of oven until squash is tender but not mushy, 35 to 45 min. Rotate sheets and stir veggies halfway through. Squeeze juice from lemon into a bowl. Stir in sugar and garlic. Whisk in oil. Turn cooked vegetable into a large bowl. Drizzle with half of dressing and toss. Taste and add more dressing if needed. Great warm or at room temperature or cover and refrigerate up to 2 days. Add basil and feta just before serving and drizzle some basil olive oil over the top!

Olive-Me & Co Warm Celery, Date & Almond Salad

Recipe adapted from Food & Drink magazine – Spring 2015

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup almonds, chopped
  • 3 Tbs any plain Olive-Me & Co  Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ½ cup chopped Medjool or other soft dates
  • 4 stalks celery, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 4 cups packed spring-mix greens
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese or chevre

Directions:

  1. Toast almonds in a large, dry skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until golden and fragrant. Immediately transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Return skillet to medium-low heat and add 2 Tbs of Olive-Me & Co EVOO and the dates, and sauté 1 minute. Add celery, lemon zest and ¼ tsp each of salt and pepper; sauté for 1 to 2 minutes or until celery is wilted but still tender-crisp. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and remaining 1 Tbs Olive-Me & Co EVOO. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Divide greens among individual salad plates. Top with warm celery mixture and sprinkle with cheese and almonds.

Olive~Me & Co’s Cilantro Lime Quinoa

cilantro lime

Recipe and photo submitted by Jennifer Brooks

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • juice of one lime
  • zest of one lime
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons Olive~Me & Co’s Arbequina EVOO (or) Olive~Me & Co’s Persian Lime Olive Oil
  • handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
  • pinch cayenne (or try a little of our Citrus Habanero Olive Oil for an extra kick instead!)
  • pinch salt
  • feta cheese, crumbled (optional)

Instructions:

  1. pour water over quinoa in pot and bring to a boil.  Cover and cook for about 15 minutes (or as per box directions). Fluff with a fork.
  2. add lime juice, oil, lime zest, cilantro, cayenne, salt and mix together.  Add feta and gently mix in.

 

Note: This is also great cold, or as a side dish with fish.  Keeps in the refrigerator for 3 – 4 days.

Olive~ Me & Co’s White Tropical Passion Balsamic Watermelon Salad

wmsalad_170whIngredients:

  • 3- 3.5 cups Watermelon cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1-1/2 cups feta cheese cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 4 paper thin slices of red onion, separated into rings
  • 3 fresh mint leaves, ribboned
  • Drizzle Olive~Me & Co White Tropical Passion Balsamic Vinegar lightly over top of salad
  • Drizzle Olive~Me & Co Koroneiki extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt/fresh ground pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Cut up and combine watermelon and feta cheese cubes into bowl.  Spread onion slices over top of bowl. Season with salt and pepper.  Drizzle balsamic vinegar and olive oil lightly over salad and toss gently to combine.  Roll mint leaves up and slice into ribbons.  Garnish salad and serve.