Thursday, 6 September 2018

Verão até à última gota- tapenade

 Summer until the last drop

While there is still a little light left in the evenings I am not quite ready for autumn.For me it still feels like summer.The weather outside is still saying hot, but the labels in my closet say not.
It is only right and proper to embrace every last opportunity to sit out on the terrace with a well-chilled drink – heaven knows there will be time enough to huddle round the fire with a warming cup of tea once autumn girds its loins in earnest.
And, just as tea needs biscuits, a stiff drink demands nibbles.Roasted nuts are always a winner, of course, and an offensively cheesy whatsit,(may i call it a Pringle?) rarely fails to please, but to really string out that holiday feeling, you can't get much more Mediterranean than olives and more specifically, tapenade.
Not only in Provence,but other Mediterranean countries too it is a much loved favourite as the perfect drinking companion.It's that combination of the saltiest ingredients you could imagine, capers,anchovies, salt cured olives– great with a delicate, pale pink Algarvian rosé, yes, but also an unimpeachable pairing with the magic of a Portuguese Sharish gin with "Mediterranean Fever Tree" or, of course, a pink port and tonic.
Every year around the end of October, in fields all over Portugal little old ladies in blue gingham checked nylon wrap-around housecoats can be seen performing acrobatic feats.
Their men, sporting baggy flannel trousers and donning either a beret,cloth cap or more traditional homburg-esque black hat, drop their accordions for a day or two and join them to perform a merry fandango beneath the trees. In Spain, Italy and southern France, people will be seen whacking trees with sticks. This may seem like strange, and relatively cruel treatment for some poor trees who did nothing but stand there and help to prevent the warming climate from speeding along like an out-of-control freight train, but such is the life of an olive tree, full of shining black olives in the autumnal months. Nets are rolled out below the trees and then long sticks are used to knock the olives into the nets, so it’s easier to gather them into buckets. They are then either taken to the mill to be graded and turned into olive oil, or cured so they they can be made into delicious spreads, such as this tapenade (olive pâté) that graces every self-respecting Mediterranean household.Though the principal ingredient is olives, the French word comes from the Provençal name for caper buds, tapeno. The story goes that, in ancient times, these would have been preserved in amphoras of olive oil, to re-emerge, when required, as a pungent mush – the origins of the modern tapenade.In Italy and Spain it goes under the name Olivada and has distinct regional differences to the Provençal version.Recently, even I got the bug for making this delicacy from these autumn fruits.Before you could say aiaiai Azzedine Alaïa I found myself on the case, processing industrial quantities of tapenade.
When we think of tapenade, we usually envision a thick, smooth paste of black olives spiked with anchovies and garlic. But I also opted for this version which is tapenade's boisterous blond twin: briny green olives are kept chunky and are smashed to a crumbling rubble with the usual Nice suspects of  garlic, capers, and anchovies.With the addition of some peppery chilli flakes and a spoonful of Dijon mustard it helped the tapenade go down,in a most delightful way.
Green olive tapenade
4 cups green olives pitted
12 anchovies
4 tablespoons capers drained
2 garlic cloves
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Mix all in a processor, as above adjusting quantity of olive oil until your desired consistency is achieved.
I also found once again that "Italians do it better"
Pasta salads are always great ideas for summer parties and quick lunches, but not so much in autumn. That’s why I’m squeezing one last salad in before meteorological autumn comes along with it’s tidal wave of pumpkin recipes. The secret to making pasta salads, for me at least, is to keep them simple. No thick heavy dressings are needed, just a light olive oil coating which wont affect the taste of the other ingredients.
I usually use penne for my pasta salads but this time I picked up tagliata and added some olivada. I racked my brain trying to think of what cheese I could add, because, come on cheese is always needed. Parmesan would have been a respectable choice but burrata was the winner. It’s insanely creamy texture goes perfectly with the pasta and doesn’t get lost among all of the other ingredients. This is a solid recipe for a weekday lunch or supper on a Monday and if you are lucky it might last until Wednesday, I say might because you may just eat the whole batch for lunch and dinner on the Monday.We did.

Olivada salad
Getting the biggest flavour from the simplest ingredients.With this room temperature pasta salad, which combines al dente pasta,creamy burrata, spicy-tangy peperoncini and salty green  olive tapenade and salami. 
    FOR THE OLIVADA
    4 cups coarsely chopped pitted green olives
    4 tablespoons capers, drained
    1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
    12 anchovies
    1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red chilli pepper
    1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    Mix all in a processor, as above adjusting quantity of olive oil until your desired consistency is achieved.
     
    FOR THE SALAD
    500g dried tagliata pasta cooked in boiling water, 
     then dressed copiously with olive oil
      
    2 pints cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved 
    1heaped tablespoon olivada
    1 large ball of burrata cheese
    8-10 leaves fresh basil, torn

    lashings of cracked black pepper
      Once the pasta has been cooked, toss it with olive oil and allow to cool down.
      Halve or quarter the cherry tomatoes depending on their size.
      Take the cold pasta and add the tomatoes,then stir through the olivada.
      Carefully tear pieces of the cheese into smaller strips and mix into the salad.
      Tear the basil leaves and sprinkle over the top of the salad.
      Season well with plenty of ground black pepper
      Toss quickly to mix. Add more dressing if you prefer.
      Toss well and transfer to a large serving platter.

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