Tag Archives: olives

Forget the Lettuce Veggie Salad

When you eat a lot of vegetables, which we do at my house, you get sick of the traditional salad. Sometimes I just don’t want to see another leaf of lettuce, even though I really like salad. But never fear, when salad boredom happens, I tend to just start combining random ingredients in the hopes of inventing something new that everyone will actually eat. It usually works.

I would describe this as a Mediterranean-ish veggie extravaganza. Filling and flavorful, it stands well on its own, or is the perfect side dish for just about anything. As an added bonus, it works well at room temperature which makes it terrific for potlucks and picnics.

No Lettuce Veggie Salad

Forget the Lettuce Veggie Salad

Forget the Lettuce Veggie Salad

1 can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 can olives, cut in half
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 zucchini, diced
2 green onions, sliced
1 small can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered or coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup feta, crumbled
2-3 tbsp. olive oil
2-3 tbsp. vinegar
Salt & pepper

Combine all ingredients. Eat.

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Mediterranean Pizza

I can’t remember the last time I went out for pizza.  There are a few places I like in town, but none are very close to my house, and it usually just seems like too much trouble.  I’ve found it’s much easier to make my own, especially if I want a healthy-ish, gourmet-ish sort of pizza.

I threw this together with a few ingredients I had on hand, and the result was a tasty, Mediterranean style pizza that disappeared in the blink of an eye!  I read an article recently about ingredients you should never put on pizza, and I think spinach was on the list, but what do they know?  I actually really like it on pizza, especially if you cook it at a high enough temp that it gets a little crispy on the edges instead of just wilting.  Because nobody likes a soggy pizza.  This is a great way to get some extra veggies into the little ones (and the big ones!) without it seeming like rabbit food.

If you have a Trader Joe’s in the vicinity, they make a great fresh pizza dough that you can find in their refrigerated section.  It comes in plain or garlic-herb varieties.  If you don’t have a TJ’s close to you, you can use any pizza dough that suits you.

Mediterranean Pizza

Mediterranean Pizza

Mediterranean Pizza

Garlic-herb fresh pizza crust (I used Trader Joe’s pizza crust, but whatever kind you like will work)
1/2 cup basil pesto (click here for my pesto recipe or use store bought)
1 tomato, sliced or diced
1 cup spinach, coarsely chopped
Assorted olives (I used kalamata and some green Italian ones)
1/2 cup feta
1/4 cup mozzarella
Fresh ground pepper

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  If you have a pizza stone, go ahead and preheat that too, otherwise you can use any baking pan.  Flatten your dough out with your hands into whatever shape suits you (I usually just make it whatever shape of pan I’m using). Make it as thin or thick as you like.

Spread pesto evenly over crust.

It doesn't have to be perfect, just try to get a little bit all over it.

It doesn’t have to be perfect, just try to get a little bit all over it.

Layer  pepperoni and spinach.


Pepperoni and spinach.  For a vegetarian version simply leave out the pepperoni.

Pepperoni and spinach. For a vegetarian version simply leave out the pepperoni.

Pile on the other toppings, sprinkling evenly over crust. Finish with a few grinds of black pepper, or if you like it spicy, scatter a bit of crushed red pepper over the top.

Tomatoes, olives and cheese scattered on top.  Doesn't that look gorgeous?

Tomatoes, olives and cheese scattered on top. Doesn’t that look gorgeous?

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until crust is lightly browned on the edges and bottom.  I like a crispy crust, so I sometimes cook an additional minute or two.  For a softer crust, take it out a bit sooner.

Let it set for a few minutes before slicing.  Cut into wedges and try not to burn the roof of your mouth when you dive in!





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5-Minute Capellini with Tomatoes and Olives

I am an expert of the field of minimal effort cooking.  Mostly this happens on days when I’m just cooking for myself (or at the end of busy, crazy days, or lazy ones).  I threw together this light and tasty pasta in about 5 minutes the other night and man, it was good!

You could use any kind of olives in this, but I happened to have some Castelvetrano olives on hand so i used those.  I recently discovered these and it was love at first taste!  They are bright green and round, and very mild and a bit nutty in flavor.  If your grocery store has an olive bar, that will probably be your best bet if you’re interested in picking some up, but I do occasionally see a jar of them here and there as well.  If you can’t find them, feel free to sub the olive of your choice.

5-Minute Capellini with Tomatoes and Olives

5-Minute Capellini with Tomatoes and Olives

5-Minute Capellini with Tomatoes and Olives

Capellini or angel hair pasta
3-4 vine ripened tomatoes, diced
Handful of olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, very thinly sliced or minced
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
Parmesan or feta cheese (optional)

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil while you heat a small skillet over medium heat.  Add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to the skillet.  Toss in the pasta and keep an eye on it.  Capellini is very thin; it will only take about 4 minutes to cook.  While the pasta is cooking, saute the garlic in olive oil for about 30 seconds, until fragrant but not browned.  Add tomatoes and olives.  Turn heat down to low and give the mixture an occasional stir until the pasta is ready.  You really don’t need to cook the veggies much, mostly you are just heating them up and letting some of their juices release and combine to make it a little more saucy.

Just a little mingle in the heat to really bring out the flavor.

Just a little mingle in the heat to really bring out the flavor.

Taste and add a pinch of salt and pepper if needed (depending on the type of olives you use, you may not need much salt at all, if any).  Drain pasta (reserve a bit of the pasta water) and toss with tomato mixture.  If pasta seems dry you can add in a little bit of the reserved pasta water or drizzle with a touch of olive oil.  Serve immediately with a sprinkle of parmesan or feta if desired.

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BLT Pasta Salad with Feta and Olives

In one of my many flashes of brilliance, I decided to turn one of my favorite sandwiches into a pasta salad.  And I just have to say, it was incredible!

The greens make for a lighter than usual pasta dish and the bottled dressing make it quick to throw together (and your waistline will thank you for skipping the mayo!).  I used a Champagne Vinaigrette I found at Trader Joe’s that is one of my current favorites, but feel free to use a different brand or even a different vinaigrette if there’s one you love.

BLT Pasta Salad with Feta & Olives

BLT Pasta Salad with Feta & Olives

BLT Pasta Salad with Feta and Olives

4-5 strips of bacon
12 ounces rotini pasta
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2-3 big handfuls of mixed salad greens
1/2 cup black olives, halved
1/2 cup feta
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup Champagne Vinaigrette dressing
Salt & pepper

Heat water to boiling.  Boil pasta until it is tender.  Drain and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking.  Drain well.

Cook bacon in a skillet until crisp.  Remove from skillet and let drain and cool on paper towels while you assemble the salad.

In a large serving bowl combine tomatoes, greens, olives, green onions and feta.

Bright fresh veggies and cheese.

Bright fresh veggies and cheese.

Add pasta and bacon and toss to combine.  Add salad dressing, starting with 1/4 cup and adding more as needed to lightly dress the pasta.

I am in love with this dressing, but feel free to substitute one you like if you can't find this one.

I am in love with this dressing, but feel free to substitute one you like if you can’t find this one.

Taste and add salt & pepper or more dressing if needed.  Toss and serve immediately.


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Greek Salad with Roasted Chickpeas

One of the challenges when you go crazy at farmer’s market is using all the stuff up that you bought.  This week I not only went nuts at farmer’s market, but also at Trader Joe’s (they had a sale, who could resist?).  I came home with all my goodies, sat down and made a list of all the stuff I picked up, and then made a somewhat creative menu for the week to use it all up (beet pasta, anyone?).  So, at least one main dish salad was definitely in order.  Best of all this recipe was a good excuse to make roasted chickpeas again, and use them in place of croutons.

Greek Salad with Roasted Chickpeas

Greek Salad

4-6 cups mixed greens
Kalamata olives
Cherry tomatoes
Feta cheese
Mild banana pepper rings
Roasted chickpeas (I used oregano and garlic powder for the seasonings for these)

I don’t measure anything when I make salad.  If you like tomatoes, use lots of tomatoes, and so on.  Combine all ingredients.  Toss with Herbed Vinaigrette (see below).

Herbed Vinaigrette

1/4 cup cider vinegar (or apple jalapeno vinegar!)
1/4 cup  extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup crumbled feta
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
2 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 tsp. dijon
Salt & pepper

Combine all ingredients, whisk well or shake up in a jar.  Toss with salad.

Greek Salad with Herbed Vinaigrette & Roasted Chickpeas

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Pickled Pepper Slaw & Pan-Fried Cheese Sandwich

A few weeks ago, I was wondering what to do with a big bag of mini peppers.  My friend, Cara, sent me a recipe for pickled peppers that sounded interesting.  I like pickles AND peppers.  I’ll be honest. I didn’t actually make the recipe she sent me.  However, I did sort of kind of follow some of the directions, used most of the ingredients and added some other things and made a new recipe that is inspired by the one she sent me.  Does that count?  In any case, I came up with a Pickled Pepper Slaw that I think is pretty darn tasty, and I thank Cara for the idea.

Pickled Pepper Slaw

To go with my tangy twist on coleslaw, I made cheese & olive sandwiches.  I had a debate the other day with my mom over whether it’s a “Toasted Cheese Sandwich” or a “Grilled Cheese Sandwich.”  I think toast is made in a toaster, and she thinks to be considered grilled it should be cooked on an actual grill.  We may both be right on this one.  Technically, this is a Pan-Fried Cheese and Olive Sandwich.  It is melty and good.

Pan-Fried Cheese & Olive Sandwich with Pickled Pepper Coleslaw

Pickled Pepper Coleslaw

1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 cups sliced mini sweet peppers (or bell peppers)
2 cups napa cabbage
1 tbsp parsley, chopped (optional)
1 tbsp. chives, chopped (optional)

Combine vinegar, sugar, salt, crushed red pepper and red onion in a glass bowl.  Microwave on high for 2 minutes.  Stir to make sure sugar and salt are dissolved.  Cool.  Add sliced peppers and cabbage and toss to coat.  Taste to see if seasoning needs adjusting, add fresh herbs and toss again.  This is best if made ahead AT LEAST a half hour, a couple hours would be even better.

Chopped Olives

Chopped Olives for my Sandwich

Pan-Fried Cheese & Olive Sandwich

Mozzarella cheese
Assorted olives, coarsely chopped (I used kalamata and pimento-stuffed green olives)
Sourdough bread

Heat skillet over medium heat.  Spread one side of each slice of bread very lightly with butter.  Put butter side down in the pan and build your sandwich, alternating slices or chunks of mozzarella with a sprinkle of chopped olives.  Put the other piece of bread on top.  Cook until brown on the bottom.  Carefully flip and cook until brown on the other side.

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Project Veggie: Day 21 – Angel Hair with Green & Black Olives

Martha Stewart irritates me.  Maybe I’m a small, petty person for saying so, but she does.  Everything is so fussy, and anal, and perfect.  Ugh.  I want to go over there and spill stuff on her counter, rumple her bed, put a few stacks of laundry in the corner of her living room, plant a dust bunny under her armchair!  My house has never looked like anything in her magazine or TV show, and if it did it would probably drive me insane.  I need a little clutter.  I need some randomness.  I don’t want to spend hours preparing a meal or cleaning my house, managing every tiny detail.  But to give her a tiny bit of credit, she sometimes has some good ideas.

I was watching a show once and Martha had a segment on there where she made a super quick spaghetti recipe using just a few ingredients.  I don’t remember the recipe; I didn’t write it down.  But it planted a seed that got me experimenting on my own.  Before that, whenever I made homemade spaghetti sauce it was a long process, chop, chop, simmer, simmer, stir, stir, wait, wait!  But then Martha inspired me to try quicker, fresher, and simpler.  And I never went back.  And for that one thing, I don’t totally hate her.  So thank you, Martha. Although…I hope next time you make spaghetti, you splatter some sauce on your shirt. 🙂

I make many different versions of this pasta, but they all start with a few simple ingredients: a big can of tomatoes, fresh basil, lots of garlic.  Beyond that, I add things depending on my mood, and what’s available in my kitchen.  This is one of our favorite incarnations of this particular dish.

Angel Hair Pasta with Black & Green Olives

Angel Hair with Green & Black Olives

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil.
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes
1/2 – 1 tsp. crushed red peppers
1/2 cup sliced green olives
1/2 cup sliced black olives
1/2 cup fresh basil, rolled and sliced into strips
freshly grated parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper to taste

Put a pot of water on to boil and while it heats, prepare the sauce.  Puree the can of tomatoes in a blender or food processor.  In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the garlic.  Cook for a minute or so until fragrant.  Add the tomatoes.  Add olives and crushed red peppers.  Stir to combine.  Once you have the sauce started you can add the pasta to the boiling water.  Angel hair pasta only takes about 5 minutes to cook, so watch it closely and don’t overcook.  Add fresh basil to the sauce, taste it and see if it needs salt and pepper.  The olives are pretty salty, so usually it doesn’t need much.  Drain the pasta and add to the sauce.  Toss.  Serve hot, topped with parmesan cheese.

Incidentally, this is also great leftover for breakfast or lunch the next day, hot or cold.

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