Currently my favourite summer recipes for lunches or suppers – possibly I make them too often but beetroot and olives and capers are just so tasty and good. Can anyone resist??
Baked Beetroot and Feta (above: after the chopping)
3 med-large beetroot, diced
1 onion, chopped fine
thyme and rosemary (fresh or dried)
olive oil and balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
1 1/2 packets of good quality feta (the cheap stuff will go rubbery instead of fluffed and crumblesome; believe me, I’ve had the misfortune)
Spring onion finely sliced for colour clash garnish if desired.
Put the diced beetroot, onion, seasonings in an ovenproof dish. Slosh over some olive oil and a splash or two of balsamic. Toss the lot around and put in an oven at about 190 degrees C. It should take about 40 mins to get the beetroot to a good eating consistency – check it doesn’t shrivel, but is soft enough to eat. Take out and crumble all the feta on tob, sprinkle with a little pepper and a little more thyme and put back in the oven for about 10 mins, or until the feta browns a little. Sprinkle with spring onion if you want for pretty effect. So very, very good. Eat it with a big green salad and some flat bread with homemade tapenade…
Black Olive Tapenade
Mmm, there’s nothing like this. The first time I tasted this I was living in Ireland, in Cork City, lodging with a herbalist for a couple of months to do my anthropology research on his patients (you may well ask, haha). He was quite an illustrious chap, full of outlandish stories of high entertainment (and possibly questionable validity). He had photographic evidence of his car journey through the Afghan Mountains to India and a suitcase full of original International Times magazines, though, and that was enough to garner my respect…
He asked only for weekly rent in the form of a bottle of champagne, and then would unfailingly crack it open of a weekend while watching Formula 1 racing, after sending me to market to pick up organic crispbreads and a pot of freshly made black olive tapenade to supplement our afternoon. Perfectly heavenly. Certainly beat battling the elements in a challenging country (on some counts), and he was best buddies with the chaps at Ballymaloe cookery school too, which was entertaining.
I loved being woken up in my makeshift bedroom on the dining room floor to the strains of Beethoven’s Pastoral symphony coming through the speakers, followed by a call to breakfast and uprightness with the 9th. Beats an alarm clock any day…
1 tin basic pitted black olives in brine
Heaped dessert spoon of good quality salted capers
Half a fresh red chill, chopped, or some chilli flakes
Plenty of olive oil
Rosemary and perhaps a little thyme or toasted fennel seeds
1 clove garlic, chopped small
Place olives and all other ingredients in a bowl, except the capers. Roughly liquidise with enough oil to produce a loose, bitty paste – it doesn’t want to be smooth like baby food! Taste and stir in the capers. Taste again – it shouldn’t need salt as it has briney olives and salted capers but if it is not piquant then add a little: it should be a bit too strong to eat off the spoon but perfect for a triangle of toasted middle eastern flat bread (you’ll have to see your local bakery for that one!).