Tag Archives: olives

Greek Chicken Pasta

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It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

Who doesn’t love an easy yet tasty pasta meal? I know I certainly do and this chicken pasta dish adapted from the Noble Pig doesn’t disappoint. The chicken adds protein to the dish while the addition of spinach makes this a complete one pot meal. The feta and olives give the dish a Mediterranean flair. Depending upon what I have on hand, I’ve used both Greek and Spanish olives so simply choose one you like. If you are short on time or have leftovers, use rotisserie or pre-cooked chicken. Simply add the chicken in during the final step and cook until heated through.

GREEK CHICKEN PASTA

12 ounces spaghetti

3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed

1 large onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

12 ounces baby spinach

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes

1 cup whole olives of your choosing

1 cup toasted pine nuts

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

  • Cook spaghetti as package directs.
  • While the spaghetti cooks, heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
  • Add the chicken breasts and tossing regularly, cook until browned on all sides, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Add in the onion and the garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the spinach, wine, oregano, chile flakes, olives, pine nuts, salt and pepper.
  • Drain pasta and return it to the pot.
  • Add the chicken and spinach mixture and cook over medium heat until warmed, about 4 minutes.
  • Transfer to plates and top with feta cheese.

Serves 4

Greek Style Chicken Breasts

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Here’s an easy chicken dish adapted from a Cooking Light recipe that is packed with flavor and sure to please the entire family. I’ve turned the dish into a one pan dinner by cooking the chicken and the vegetables in the same skillet. The chicken breasts are simply cooked with a touch of salt, pepper and dried oregano. The addition of tomatoes and olives sautéed with onions and garlic make a simple sauce and when you top it all with some salty feta cheese you have a light and tasty meal. It really doesn’t get much easier than this.

Serve the chicken alongside a fresh Greek salad and some warm pita bread and you are good to go.

GREEK STYLE CHICKEN BREASTS

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 6 ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 large red onion, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup Greek olives

10 cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 cup feta cheese, cubed

  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat.
  • Season the chicken breasts on both sides with the salt, pepper and oregano.
  • When the oil shimmers, place the chicken in the pan and cook for 6-8 minutes until it is browned and cooked half way through.
  • Flip the chicken over. Add the onions and garlic to the pan around the chicken and cook for 3 minutes.
  • Add the olives and tomatoes to the pan and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Remove the chicken from the pan and divide among four plates. Divide the sauce over the chicken then top with the parsley, feta and a squeeze of lemon juice.

 

Serves 4

 

 

Greek Village Salad

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Last summer I was lucky to take not one but two trips to Greece. The first trip was to the Ionian Islands of Cofru, Paxos and Antipaxos. The second trip included the town of Meteora and the city of Thessaloniki and several villages in between. The geography was varied but the one thing that held true regardless of our locations was the food. Whether eating at fancier restaurants or simple mom and pop operations, all of the food was simple, fresh and delicious. Fish was a mainstay when we were near the sea while inland grilled lamb reigned supreme. But the one item that was guaranteed to be on every menu was a village salad.

The actual ingredients in a village salad may vary depending upon location but cucumbers, tomatoes, olives and feta cheese were mainstays. Oregano, whether fresh or dried was often included. Some salads may include peppers or onions. Because we were there during the steamy days of July all of the ingredients were local, super fresh and tasted so wonderful. I actually ate a salad as an entree at more than one meal.

I’ve attempted to recreate the salad on numerous occasions but some how the salads never taste quite as good as they do in Greece. But by using the freshest of ingredients; vegetables bought at the farmer’s market rather than the grocery store, feta cheese and olives from a Greek importer rather than mass produced products that come to Belgium from Greece via the United States, the results are pretty darn good.

GREEK VILLAGE SALAD

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup baby cucumbers, cut into coins

1 cup mixed Mediterranean olives

3/4 cup feta cheese, cubed

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Combine the tomatoes, cucumbers and olives in a large bowl.
  • Gently fold in the feta cheese taking care not to crumble the cubes
  • Drizzle the oil over the top of the salad, sprinkle with the oregano, salt and pepper. Toss well to combine.

Serves 4

Marinated Bocconcini

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Fresh mozzarella and tomatoes are natural partners but when you throw in a few olives and some capers you have Mediterranean extravaganza in a bowl.  This salad, from The Cheese Course by Janet Fletcher is super easy and tasty too.  Fresh oregano is a departure from the typical basil that is usually paired with this cheese and vegetable combination.  The oregano give the dish an earthy touch but you could easily use an equal amount of basil if you wish.  I’ve served this dish as both a salad as well as an appetizer; allow guests to spear their cheese and tomatoes with toothpicks and everyone will be happy. Enjoy!

MARINATED BOCCONCINI

1/2 cup olive oil

1 large clove garlic, minced

2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 pound bocconcini, well drained

1 tablespoon capers, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley

Sea salt to taste

1/2 cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup black oil cured olives

  • In a small saucepan heat the oil, garlic, oregano, and pepper flakes over medium heat until the garlic sizzles and just begins to color, 1-2 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and cool to room temperature.
  • Place the bocconcini in a bowl and cover with the seasoned oil.  Add the capers and parsley, stirring to coat.
  • Cover and let stand for several hours, stirring occasionally.  Just before serving season to taste with salt.
  • Arrange the bocconcini on a serving platter alongside the tomatoes and olives.

Services 6 to 8

Lemon Chicken w/ Oil Cured Olives & Capers

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

This dish is a take on a traditional chicken piccata.  The olives and capers provide a salty contrast the tangy lemons .  And most importantly, the dish is faster to make than one would think.  You can buy whole boneless chicken breasts and pound them into thin yourself but if you buy chicken filets you will save time.  To get the most flavor out of this dish, serve the chicken with a pasta or risotto that can absorb the sauce.

LEMON CHICKEN w/DRY CURED OLIVES & CAPERS

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Salt and fresh ground pepper

8 thin, boneless chicken breast cutlets

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 shallots, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups, low-sodium chicken broth

1 large lemon, seeded and sliced into 1/4 inch moons

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup black olives, pits intact

4 tablespoons capers, rinsed

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

4 tablespoons chopped parsley

  • Spread the flour in a shallow dish and sprinkle liberally with the salt and pepper.  Dredge each cutlet in the flour mixture and set aside.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.  Add half of the cutlets and cook until light golden brown on both sides, about 4 minutes.  Transfer to a plate and set aside.  Add more oil to the skillet if needed and repeat the cooking process with the remaining chicken.
  • Add the shallot and garlic to the oil left in the skillet and cook over medium heat until softened, about 2 minutes.  Stir in the broth and lemon slices, deglazing the pan and scraping up any browned bits.  Simmer until reduced and syrupy, about 8 minutes.
  • Stir in the lemon juice, olives, capers, and any accumulated chicken juice.  Return the chicken to the sauce. At this point the chicken can sit over low heat until ready to serve.
  • Immediately before serving stir in the butter, one piece at a time.  Turn off the heat, adjust the salt and pepper and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Serves 4

Marinated Olives

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I love olives.  Whether eaten as part of a dish or right out of the container, they are all good.  Sometimes however, it is nice to kick them up a notch.  When that is the case I make these quick marinated olives.  It literally takes minutes to put together so you will be enjoying these fancy olives in no times.  Your friends will think you slaved away in the kitchen; only you will know the truth.

MARINATED OLIVES

2 cups green olives

1/4 cup olive oil

6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 lemon, scrubbed, de-seeded, and chopped (include rind)

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon salt

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.
  • Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours before serving.

Yields:  2 cups olive

Arugula & Fennel Salad with Oranges and Dry Cured Olives

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This simple salad celebrates the best of the Mediterranean winter season and is the perfect way to end a dinner.  (In our house, we always serve salad after the entree and before the dessert course).  It is so easy but the combination of the sweetness of the oranges, the saltiness of the olives, and the bitterness of the arugula simultaneously please all of the taste buds.

I serve the salad with a simple dressing of olive oil and balsamic vinegar with just a touch of salt and pepper.  Because there are only four ingredients, be sure to use a good quality olive oil and vinegar.  Too many balsamic vinegars are heavy on the acid and light on the sweetness so taste test it before offering it to your guests.  The dressing is also served on the side, guests can add as much or as little as they like.

ARUGULA & FENNEL SALAD w/ ORANGES & DRY CURED OLIVES

For the salad:

4 cups arugula, washed, dried, and broken into bit sized pieces

1 large fennel bulb, sliced thinly

1 orange, peeled, seeded and cut into bite sized pieces

1/2 cup dry cured olives

  • Divide the arugula evenly between four plates forming a compact bed of leaves.
  • Distribute the fennel, oranges, and olives over the top of the arugula.

For the dressing:

1/3 cup good quality olive oil

4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Salt & freshly ground pepper

  • Divide the olive oil between four small dishes or dressing cups.
  • Place one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar into each cup on top of the oil.
  • Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper to each cup.
  • Nestle the dressing cups onto the salad plates and serve.

Serves 4

Cod in Crazy Water over Smashed Dijon Potatoes

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I came across these recipes from Cuisine at Home Magazine while I was looking for new fish dishes.  I had read about poaching fish and had enjoyed it when others have made it  but I had never attempted it myself.  Somehow I just feared either under cooking the fish or even worse, overcooking it and ending up with it being too dry and tough.  Besides, it is only recently that I even have a receptive fish eating audience at home to test these dishes on.  Bu these times they are a changing………..

With tomatoes, olives, capers, and fennel, I was intrigued by the flavor profile of this dish but given Glenn’s dislike of these briny Mediterranean flavors, combined with his recently acquired desire to even try fish, I was hesitant to try it.  However, fortified with the urge to try something new I decided to give it a go.  And I’m so glad I did.  Not only was the fish fork tender but the Dijon infused potatoes provided the perfect bed for absorbing the flavorful juice or “crazy water”.  And the entire meal came together in less than 40 minutes making it a perfect weeknight dinner.

Oh, and Glenn like it too, declaring it a keeper.

COD IN CRAZY WATER OVER SMASHED DIJON POTATOES

For the fish:

1/2 cup diced carrot

1/2 cup diced fennel bulb

1 Tablespoon minced garlic

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1- 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes in juice

1 cup water

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup whole black olives

2 Tablespoons capers, rinsed

1 Tablespoon minced lemon zest

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 Teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 Teaspoon red pepper flakes

4- 6 ounce cod fillets (or one per person)

Chopped fennel fronds

  • Cook the carrot, fennel, and garlic in the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat until browned, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes, water, wine, olives, capers, zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper flakes; simmer until reduced by half, about 10 minutes.
  • Add the cod to the pan, and poach over low heat until firm, 8-10 minutes.  
  • Transfer the cod to shallow serving bowls filled with a bed of potatoes.
  • Pour crazy water over each serving and garnish with fennel fronds.

 

For the Potatoes:

1 pound red-skinned potatoes, cubed

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 Tablespoon grated Parmesan

1/2 Teaspoon kosher salt

  • Cook potatoes in a pot of boiling water until fork tender, 12 minutes.
  • Drain the potatoes and return to the pot.  Cook potatoes over medium heat, stirring, to remove the excess moisture, 1 minute.
  • Crush the potatoes with a potato mashers.
  • Stir in oil, Dijon, Parmesan, and salt until combined.

Djaj Mqualli (Chicken, Lemon, & Olive Tagine)

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I came across this recipe from Saveur Magazine while on my weekly quest for new recipes.  With olives, lemons, and saffron this recipe combines some of my favorite flavors.  As an added bonus, I cured the green olives myself and made the preserved lemons earlier this winter so I had jars of them readily available.  If you don’t have the time or desire to make them yourself, you can buy these items in your local grocery store.  (Unless you are in Albania, then you must preserve your own lemons but with advance planning, it really is easy to do).

There is minimal hands on time for this dish which makes it a deceptively easy dish to serve for guests.  Served with a side dish of rice, flatbread, and Moroccan carrot salad, you have colorful and complete dinner that is sure to please.  Even Sidney, the boy who won’t eat chicken, ate this declaring it “yummy.”  And I agree, it is pretty tasty.

DJAJ MQUALLI

3 tbsp. olive oil
6 whole chicken legs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 large yellow onions, sliced
2 tbsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. ground white pepper
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground turmeric
½ tsp. crushed saffron threads
1½ cups chicken stock
6 oz. green olives, cracked
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
2 tsp. finely chopped cilantro
2 jarred preserved lemons, seeded and cut into slices or chunks

  • Heat oven to 350°. Heat oil in an 8–qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  • Season chicken with salt and pepper; add to pot and cook, turning, until browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate.
  • Add onions to pot; cook until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Add spices; cook for 2 minutes. Return chicken to pot with stock; boil.
  • Bake chicken, covered, until tender, 35 to 40 minutes.
  • Stir in olives, butter, parsley, cilantro, and lemons into pot, and cook for 6 minutes.

Serve with rice or flatbread

Olive Oil – Olive Bread

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My 2013 bread baking challenge continues.  For inspiration I’ve been reading Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Fanncois’ Artiisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day and was excited to find this recipe that includes one of my favorite savory ingredients. This time it is taking on a Mediterranean twist with a rich olive oil based dough (using my stash of my own olive oil) as well as a generous helping of home cured olives.  Since the recipe for the dough produces four full pounds of dough, it can easily be halved, or even doubled if you are a big fan of bread.  The dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 12 days so you can make a batch of dough and use it as the base for several different types of bread.

OLIVE OIL DOUGH

2 3/4 cups lukewarm water

1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (1 1/2 packets)

1 1/2 tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

6 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

OLIVE BREAD FILLING

1/4 cup high quality olives pitted and halved

  • Mix the yeast, salt, sugar, and olive oil with the water in a 5-quart bowl, or a lidded, not air tight, food container.
  • Mix in the flour without kneading, using a spoon, a 14-cup capacity food processor with a dough attachment, or a heavy duty stand mixer with a dough hook.  If you are not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.
  • Cover (not air tight) and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.
  • The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold.  Refrigerate in a lidded (not air tight) container and use over the next 12 days.  

 

COMPOSING THE BREAD

  • Dust the surface of of 1-pound of refrigerated dough with flour.  Using your hands and a rolling pin, flatten the dough to a thickness of 1/2 inch. Cover with the olives and roll up to seal inside the dough.  Dust with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.  Allow to rest and rise on a cornmeal-covered pizza peel for 1 hour.
  • Twenty minutes before the baking time, preheat the oven to 450 degrees, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack.  Place an empty broiler tray on the other shelf that won’t interfere with the rising of the bread.
  • Just before baking, paint the surface of the bread with a cornstarch wash of 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch combined with 1/2 cup of water that has been microwaved on high for 1 minute.  Slash a cross onto the top of the loaf using a serrated bread knife.
  • Slide the loaf directly onto the hot stone.  Pour one cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray, and quickly close the oven door.  Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the top crust is deeply browned and very firm.
  • Allow to cool on a wire rack before slicing and eating.
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