Olive~Me & Co’s Panzanella Salad

image source http://dishingouthealth.com

image source http://dishingouthealth.com

Recipe adapted from http://www.thekitchn.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 (12- to 16-ounce) loaf artisan bread (8 to 10 very full cups) (fresh or stale)
  • 2 to 3 large heirloom tomatoes (3 pounds, about 8 cups chopped into bite sized pieces)
  • 1/2 large cucumber (chopped into bite sized pieces)
  • 1 medium red or yellow bell pepper (chopped into bite sized pieces)
  • 1/2 medium red onion (sliced and soaked in cold water 10-15 minutes before assembling salad)
  • 1/2 cup any Olive~Me & Co’s EVOO (or try our Basil Olive Oil if you don’t have fresh basil)  plus more
    oil if choosing method # 2 for the bread. See below)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar (or Olive~Me & Co’s Rosato Wine Vinegar for a sweeter salad)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced basil
  • Fresh Parmigiano Reggiano (if choosing method #2 for the bread. See below)

Directions:

1. Slice the bread into 1-inch cubes: Slice or tear the bread into roughly 1-inch cubes (around 10 cups of bread)

2. Dry the bread:  (note: if you have very dry bread already, simply cube it to continue)

Method # 1: place cubes on baking tray and bake in a 300°F oven until hardened on the outside but still slightly soft in the middle (about 15 to 20 minutes) stirring once or twice during baking. Let cool completely.

Method # 2: 2-3 day old stale bread , cut into 1-inch cubes. Place in large skillet, over medium heat.  Drizzle on enough olive oil so that each piece has some on it. Fry cubes until golden (add oil as needed).  Finely grate Parmigiano Reggiano to cover bread; fry until crispy and browned. Let cool completely.

3. Make the vinaigrette:

Combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar (or rosato wine vinegar), salt, and a freshly ground black pepper in a mason jar. Shake vigorously. (Or simply combine ingredients in a small bowl and whisk well)

4. Combine the cooled bread and chopped vegetables in a large mixing bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over top and thoroughly combine.

5. Let the salad sit between  1/2 hour to 4 hours. Stir occasionally so the juices and vinaigrette are evenly distributed.

6. Just before serving, stir in the basil. This salad is best eaten the day it’s made.

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’s Black Bean Mango Balsamic Salsa

Olive~Me & Co’s Black Bean Mango Balsamic Salsa

Great on Chicken, Pork, Shrimp, Oysters, White Fish, Tacos, Fajitas, Burritos and Chips!

Ingredients:

  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 mango, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup seeded and chopped tomato
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon, juice of
  • 1 tablespoon Olive~Me & Co Mango (or Spicy Mango) Balsamic Vinegar

Directions:

Combine all of the above ingredients and chill in fridge for 1 hour.

Best if served the same day.