Olives are the best things on pizza, right? The underpinning of Italian and Greek cuisines, olives come in so many forms and have so many uses. Salads, of course, and as pastes and pâtés. But also served warm with herbs, inserted into baked and grilled dishes, and dotted around pasta sauces. How would we make do without their dark, salty bite?
Sometimes we forget that simplest is bestest.
Elizabeth David is the best source of simple but utterly delicious salads. I love to read her books, and today I have taken the liberty of reproducing some of her beautiful salads.
Similar posts include 30 Great Salads for Early Summer.
Çoban Salatası or Choban salad (Turkish for Shepherd’s Salad) is a Turkish salad consisting of finely chopped tomatoes (preferably peeled), cucumbers, long green peppers, onion, and flat-leaf parsley. The dressing is made from of lemon juice, olive oil, and salt.
It is another take on the ubiquitous global Tomato and Cucumber Salad. The lovely twist to this one is the finely chopped ingredients, the tang of lemon, and the peeled tomatoes. It is rare that I peel tomatoes, but for this salad I break my own rule. Today we only had large olives in the pantry, but normally I would use smaller ones.
In the Middle East and places like Afghanistan and Turkey, Pomegranates are all the rage, and the pairing of olives, pomegranate and nuts is rather common as you get closer to the Mediterranean. We have used Pomegranates with Walnuts and Pistachios before, with just Walnuts, with Hazelnuts, and today we use just Pistachios. This one is a herbaceous salad, and absolutely divine.
The dressing has the Middle Eastern spice, Golpar, in the dressing. This is available from Middle Eastern and Afghan groceries. You might need to buy the seeds (they look like lacy butterfly wings) and grind your own. It is a beautiful spice, but if you can’t find it, leave it out.
Baked Feta is a perfect mezza dish, served with crackers or flatbread. Flavoursome, soft, mouth watering, the baked feta is aromatic and elicits sounds of approval from your friends at your shared table. It is the sort of dish that you can make at the last minute – your friends arrive unexpectedly at meal time, as they do.
Or it is a great snack, mid afternoon, with a pot of mint tea. And it goes really well on Summery days when the BBQ is lit and people are milling around, nibbling, while the salads are made and the vegetable kebabs are cooking. We have also had it on a Winter’s day as we sit around the fire, reading, writing and chatting. Best of all, it is a perfect Summer Holidays dish, when no-one wants to cook much at all.
This recipe is a mish-mash of Italian and Greek. Definitely Mediterranean.
Surprisingly, oranges and olives go really well together. This Moroccan salad brings them together with some typically Moroccan spices. A simple salad but one with punch. It is a great salad for Winter when the oranges are at their best – ripe and juicy. It IS spicy so add the chilli gradually until you find your taste preferences.
Other Moroccan dishes include Moroccan Carrot Salad, and Baked Eggplant and Zucchini with Chickpeas and Harissa Sauce.
Cream cheese still features in our kitchen, despite its fall from grace. Over-used in the ’80s and ’90s, cooks have relegated it to supermarket shelves. But, thank goodness, really good cream cheese still exists if you look around. It makes very easy, simple but flavoursome dips and spreads, and snack balls.
This spread mixes cream cheese with olives and herbs. Cream cheese is quite bland, so we spice things up by incorporating some chilli toasted pine nuts. It is hardly a recipe, it is that simple. But we share it here anyway.
Use the spread on crackers, on hot toast or crumpets, and with roasted vegetables.
Simple and easy, nutritious and delicious. What more could we ask? Tinned or cooked chickpeas can be used to make it quick and simple, but I always prefer the taste of soaked and cooked chickpeas.
Chickpeas are so versatile. Used almost all over the world, many cuisines feature chickpeas in some form or other. This means that they can be used with many different flavour combinations to great effect. In this recipe, we use olives, herbs and zucchini. A little bit Italian, perhaps.
Browse all of the Chickpea Salad recipes and all of the dishes featuring Chickpeas, explore the Bittman Salads and check out all of the many many Salad recipes. Be inspired by our easy Mid Summer recipes too.
This recipe is one of the vegetarian recipes from our first blog which was in existence from 1995 – 2006. Feel free to browse other recipes from our Retro Recipes series.
It is nearly Spring, and salads are all the go for our daily menu. If you have been following our salads, you will know we are mainly doing very simple salads at the moment, as life is busy and wearying. Thank goodness for that mesclun that green grocers sell – by-the-kilo varietal mixes of green salad leaves. The base of any salad is so easy! They are available year round, and you can make this salad in a nest of salad greens in the centre of a big plate. We haven’t done that today, but often serve it that way.
The salad takes beans – green or broad beans, either one, or mix them – and tosses them with asparagus and olives. A little black garlic is broken into small pieces and added.
Similar dishes include My Favourite Grilled Asparagus, Pasta with Minty Broad Bean Puree, Crispy Green Beans with Ginger and Soy, Italian Flat Bean Salad with Blue Cheese and Walnut Crumbs, Glorious Five Bean Salad, and Green Beans with Lentil Crumble.
Ah fennel – the vegetable that says Summer to me, yet grows in Winter. It goes so well in crisp, light, lively salads, the sort that don’t seem to pair well with the cold, short, dark days of Winter. The trick of course, is to apply heat to the bulb, braising or sauteeing it into dishes suitable for Winter. We have a few ready to be posted over the next few Wintery months, so stay tuned.
This dish braises the fennel with salty capers and black olives, splashing it with verjuice before serving it with a little creamy feta and tangy lemon zest. It is an Ottolenghi dish – who else would put those flavours together? It is a pleasure to add this dish to our heat-applied fennel dishes.
Just in case you are wondering, the 15 garlic cloves isn’t a typo – once scorched, they add a mellowing sweetness to an otherwise piercingly sharp dressing. Keep the ricotta in the dish if you can, it helps balance the acidity of the verjuice and other ingredients.
This Ottolenghi dish is from Plenty More – we are cooking our way through this book. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area. In fact, it is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books Day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi’s books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. As I said, I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.
Similar recipes include Baked Fennel with a Creamy Sauce, Fennel with Garlic and Orange, Slow Baked Fennel with Chilli, Garlic and Orange, Fennel and Fig Salad with Vin Cotto, and Fennel, Tomato and Potato Salad.