June 18, 2013
Written by Robin Glowa
Wednesday, 25 May 2011 00:00
“The whole Mediterranean, the sculpture, the bearded heroes, the wine, the ideas, the ships, the moonlight — all of it seems to rise in the sour, pungent taste of these black olives between the teeth.”
— Lawrence Durrell
Since May is National Mediterranean Diet Month, I have thinking quite a bit about Mediterranean foods and of course, the region itself.
Until I am able to spend some time traveling to Greece, Italy, France, Spain, Turkey or Morocco, or any other Mediterranean country, I will have to content myself with experimenting in my own kitchen. As I study the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid that I downloaded from Oldways, which I mentioned in my last column (oldwayspt.org), I am collecting ingredients that will infuse my dishes with the radiant, sun-drenched flavors of the Mediterranean.
Olives, in particular, are a spectacular example of a traditional Mediterranean food. A naturally nourishing ingredient, olives are one of the oldest foods known to man, having been consumed since 3000 BC.
Olives are a fruit of the Olea europaea tree, olea meaning oil in Latin. They have a very high level of oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat shown to lower blood cholesterol levels. Olives are a good source of vitamin E, which can help reduce inflammation in the body, as well as reducing the severity of arthritis and the frequency or intensity of hot flashes.
Available in an array of colors, sizes and flavors, ranging from smoky, sour, bitter, acidic, and salty, olives are a fabulous addition to pasta, pizza and salads. A perfect snack all on their own, olives can be stuffed with nuts or cheese, marinated in olive oil and herbs, or chopped into a chunky tapenade for a bracing layer of flavor on sandwiches, panini or brushcetta.
Celebrate the many flavors of the Mediterranean and do a little food traveling in your own kitchen as you prepare a delicious life!
1/2 pound mixed green and black olives, pitted (you can pit the olives yourself by pressing on each olive with the flat blade of a heavy knife until olive cracks open).
2 anchovy filets, rinsed
2 small garlic cloves, minced
2 1/2 tablespoons capers
small handful of fresh basil leaves, rinsed and chopped
small handful of fresh Italian parsley, rinsed and chopped
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
dash of balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly grated parmesan cheese
Rinse olives. Place olives and remaining ingredients in the work bowl of a food processor. Process for about one to two minutes to combine, until a coarse paste is formed. If you don’t have a food processor, chop all ingredients until you have a chunky paste. Some people prefer this method.
Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, is a food and wellness enthusiast who earned her certification in holistic health counseling from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teachers College.
She specializes in teaching healthy cooking classes for children and adults, as well as cooking presentations and wellness workshops for many local organizations.
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