Black Olive, Herb and Chilli Pine Nut Cream Cheese

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.

Similar recipes include Quince Molasses and Tahini Spread, Miso and Tahini Sauce, and Yoghurt and Kaffir Lime Leaf Spread.

Browse all of our Cream Cheese dishes and all of our Spreads. Or explore our Mid Winter dishes.

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Braised Fennel with Capers, Olives and Ricotta

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 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.

Browse all of our Fennel recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Late Autumn recipes.

We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.

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Watermelon Salad with Mint and Olives

Well, watermelon has this household hooked in the Summer hot weather – that luscious pink colour going looking so good in the heat, and the juices running down onto one’s plate (or down one’s chin). Eaten with a sucking noise, to extract every piece of juice, it cools and supplies a sugar energy boost at the same time.

It is so good to slice it, take it outside and eat with ones hands, the rind still on, gnawing at it to get the last of the pink bits. Or cut into cubes, more delicately eaten with a fork, popping ice-cold cubes into our mouths with regular automatic movements of fork to cube to mouth and back again.

Today we mix it with feta, such a good mix, some onion, mint and olives, for a quick salad. I have some creamy feta from the local Afghan shop, so creamy it can be spread onto flatbread for quick snacks. But today I managed to save some for the salad.

We have a collection of Watermelon Salads for you to explore – we brought together all our favourite salads in one post.

Similar recipes include Watermelon, Apple and Lemongrass Salad, Watermelon Juice with Ginger and Mint, Watermelon and Peach Salad with Basil, Apple and Grape Salad with Spices, and Haloumi and Watermelon Salad.

Also try Artichoke Hearts and Feta Salad with Tomatoes, and Du Puy Lentils with Feta and Tomato.

All of our Watermelon Salads are here, and all of our other Watermelon recipes are here. You could browse all of our many Salad recipes. Or take some time to browse our Mid Summer dishes.

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Green Olive Tapenade

There are a great number of recipes around for a spread made from green olives, but this is the easiest. Made with ingredients straight from your kitchen, no special purchases required, it is made in seconds, and your family or gang of friends will devour it in minutes.

This tapenade is salty, spicy (from the chilli) and pungent (from the garlic). Just perfect for a cool Early Summer day’ snacks on the verandah with some aniseed tea.

Similar recipes include Black Olive and Herb Cream Cheese with Chilli Pine. Nuts, Fava, Tapenade Bread Salad with Tomatoes and Mozzarella, Tomato Salad with Green Olives, and Olive and Orange Salad with Mint and Basil.

Browse all of our Olive recipes and all of our Spreads. Or explore our Early Summer recipes.

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Tapenade Bread Salad with Tomatoes and Mozzarella

Today’s salad takes some olive tapenade and olive oil and smothers bread in it. As it soaks in, cubes of the bread are mixed with tomatoes to make a gorgeous salad. A fun alternative to including olives, and adds a bit of bulk to the dish.

This is also a great way to use up left over bread that might be only good for toast. The firmer texture of this bread is perfect for salads as it soaks up the juices of tomatoes and dressings.

Are you looking for similar Tomato Salads? Try this one which combines crispy flatbread, tomatoes and red peppers, Dakos, and our favourite of Fresh Mozzarella, tomatoes and cucumbers.

Also try Dates and Spinach Salad with Almonds and Sumac, Na’ama’s Fattoush, Simple Tomato and Bread Salad, Warm Tomato SaladTomato and Basil Salad with Grilled Cheese Croutons, and Artichoke Hearts with Tomatoes.

Browse all of our Tomato Salads. Our Bittman Salads are here. Or take some time to explore all of our many many Salads. Alternatively, check out our easy Late Summer recipes.

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Mediterranean Barley with Crispy Tofu

Barley is beautiful, especially in Salads

I am in love with barley at the moment – a great wintery grain that also, strangely, has some cooling properties when used in the warmer months. Not only does it do well in soups, pilafs and vegetable stews, it is an accommodating base for salads.

Ilyse, the amazing artist from the no-longer-existing blog Lucullian Delights, had a wonderful barley and tofu salad for any season. I tweeked it just a little, and it is a perfect salad for summer or for winter.

Do also try Black Pepper Tofu, an exquisite dish from Ottolenghi. Or make Toa Hou Hod, Deep Fried Tofu with a Sweet Peanut Sauce, a Thai dish full of flavour. There is also Baked Marinated Tofu.

Are you looking for other Barley recipes? Try Toasted Barley with Pistachios and Raisins, Barley Pilaf, and Charred Okra with Spiced Tomato Barley. This Parsley and Barley Salad is pretty good too.

You might like to browse other Barley recipes here. Our extensive list of wonderful Salads are here. You might like to see all of our Tofu recipes also. Or simply explore our easy Late Summer Recipes.

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Tomato Salad with Green Olives

The Autumn glut of tomatoes sees me finding ways to use them, as well as popping as many as I can into the freezer. Although the weather is cooler in the mornings and evenings, salads are still on our home menu each day. Sometimes they are snacks, perhaps with some flatbread, sometimes they accompany a meal, sometimes they are the meal.

A quick salad this morning with sweet vine-ripened tomatoes fresh from the garden, tossed together with some green olives. Divine, the tang of the olives against the sweet tomatoes.

Are you after other Tomato Salads? Try Ensalada, Red Pepper and Tomato Salad with Crispy Flatbread, Chilli and Lime, Bok Choy with Tomatoes and Capers, and Warm Tomato Salad.

Why not browse all of our Tomato Salads, indeed, all of our MANY Salads. I am sure you will find inspiration. Or have a look at our general Tomato recipes and our Olive recipes. Or take some time to explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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Pasta Sauce with Aubergine, Red Peppers and Tomato

This dish combines the classic flavours of an Italian pasta dish.

Often a pasta dish is my go-to Saturday or Sunday night fare. With a friend from a good Italian commercial pasta making family, we are never short of good pasta. This dish combines the classic flavours of an Italian pasta dish. Use a great spaghetti, a thick one if you can, or thin if you cannot. Pasta shells work well also.

You might like to read Pasta with Soul – how long to cook pasta.

Similar dishes include Spaghetti with Fresh Tomatoes, Pasta with a Cauliflower Sauce, Baked Tomato Pasta Sauce, Pasta Aglio e Olio, and Pasta with Tomato and Basil.

Or try Char Grilled Banana Chillies Stuffed with Tomatoes and Spices.

Explore our other Pasta recipes, our Eggplant recipes and our Italian recipes. Or browse our easy Mid Winter recipes.

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A Quick Burghul Salad with Olives, Pomegranate and Hazelnuts

A salad comes together from almost nothing

The other morning, while making coffee and getting a quick breakfast ready, I got my lunch prep underway. In no time there was a small handful of burghul (Cracked Wheat) soaking in hot water. The last of some green olives, halved. Hazlenuts quickly toasted. Some left over slivered almonds.  Onions soaking in red wine vinegar. The last of a jar of kimchi.

Burghul forms the basis of great, inspired salads made from left overs in the kitchen. You can use this recipe as a guide, and use what you have in your fridge and on your Kitchen Bench.

Are you looking for other Burghul dishes? Try Burghul, Walnut and Tomato Salad, Burghul and Chickpea Salad with Cherry Tomatoes, Burghul with Pinenuts and Sultanas.

Feel free to browse our Salad recipes, and all of our Burghul recipes. Or check out our easy Late Summer recipes here.

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Orange and Olive Salad with Mint and Basil

Bounce into (almost) summer with a sweet citrus salad with Italian flavours. Simply mix herbs with orange, onion and olives – what a wonderful homage to this stunning weather. May there be much more of it. This is the time to enjoy eating outside under the shade of a tree with a carafe of white wine, salads and fresh flatbread, and lots of fruits with creme fraiche. For this salad, use navel oranges if they are of good quality (easy to peel), but grab some more seasonal ones if they look better and juicier.

Our similar recipes include Moroccan Salad with Radishes, Orange and Date Salad with Fennel Orange Dressing, Orange and Walnut Salad, and Halloumi and Orange Salad.

You might like to browse our other Orange Salads here, our Citrus Salads, and our other Salad Recipes (we have a lot!) Our Italian dishes are here. Or simply explore our recipes for Early Summer.

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