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Posts Tagged ‘Olives’

A totally easy chicken dish uses ingredients I had on hand...orange juice, green olives, saffron, lemon juice.

This is one of those throw together recipes that turned out surprisingly well. I had a few things on hand: orange juice, lemons, green olives, chicken legs, saffron. The resulting dish wasn’t sweet, despite the orangey base. It was more of a sweet and sour balance.  Served atop fluffy quinoa, and perhaps with a side salad or veg,  this meal satisfies without weighing you down.  In other words, a perfect dish to welcome spring.

This entire meal can make it to the table in about half an hour, not counting the time it takes to marinate. Which, in a pinch, you can skip.

Citrus Chicken With Green Olives and Saffron

Yield: About 4 servings. Recipe can easily be halved or doubled.

  • 1 pound chicken legs or thighs, skin removed
  • Neutral cooking fat of choice (butter, neutral oil, etc)
  • 4 cups orange juice (2 for the marinade, 2 for the sauce)
  • Juice of two lemons lemon (juice of one for the marinade, one for the sauce)
  • 1/2 cup of pitted green olives, cut into chunks and rinsed to remove excess salt
  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 2 generous pinches of saffron
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parsley or chives (for garnish, optional)
  • 2 cups of quinoa, and 4 cups of water

1. Marinate chicken in 2 cups of orange juice, the lemon juice, a pinch of salt, and 2 of the garlic cloves. Cover, and refrigerate for at least half an hour, or even up to two days.

2. Remove chicken from marinade. Discard marinade. Heat neutral cooking fat of choice over medium in a large skillet or Dutch oven. Salt and pepper the chicken on both sides. Add to cooking fat (carefully), once cooking fat is hot.

3. Allow chicken to cook about three minutes on each side, enough to get a nice brown color.

4. Add 2 cups of orange juice, garlic, olives, juice of the second lemon, and saffron to the pan. Bring to a boil, then lower and cook over a low heat for 20 minutes. (Can cover pan if you wish; the recipe works with pan either covered or uncovered, so don’t stress about that detail).

5. As the chicken cooks, cook quinoa according the package directions. (Usually takes about 25 minutes total).

6. Taste chicken sauce for seasoning. Adjust if needed. If sauce seems too dry, add a bit more water or orange juice to liquify.  Remember, the olives are salty, so you MUST taste the sauce first before adding any salt. My guess is that you won’t need to add any salt.

7. Serve over quinoa, and garnish with green herbs or chives if desired.

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Marinated olives! Easy, quick, and tasty. Photo by Stacey Young.

Once, many moons ago, I didn’t like olives. Yes, I know, hard to believe, right, especially seeing as I pretty much live for them now! I think my dislike stemmed in part from the fact that up until a few years ago, most olives available in the United States were mainly canned or jarred and not so high quality. Too salty, to briney, sometimes too mushy. Plus, it didn’t help that the only olives I’d ever really seen were in martini glasses (chic, but not an everyday drink–at least not for me  😉 ) or embedded in bologna (ick).

A beautiful olive tree. To me, olive trees look like a cross between a shrub and a tree. Either way, they're gorgeous. Photo courtesy of istockphoto.com.

At a long-ago dinner party, though, all of that changed. My friend Amy brought some marinated olives to the gathering, and I decided to take a chance and try them. Boy am I glad I did. They were so fresh, and the herbs (rosemary and parsley, I think) and that extra dousing of olive oil really made their flavors sing.

Look at their silvery leaves! I think those leaves are so beautiful, not to mention the olives themselves.

During my trips to Syria and Spain, I fell a bit deeper in love with the humble yet mighty olive. Their trees are almost more like a cross between a shrub and a tree. They look so non-descript at first, with their cute little silvery leaves. Yet they’re so powerful. One might even say mythical. The amazing olive (and its branch) has played a role in history since ancient times. Even the Koran namechecks the olive, mentioning it six times.

Today’s recipe couldn’t be simpler.  Pick the most gorgeous olives you can find. Drizzle them with the highest quality olive oil you have on hand. Bits of garlic and herbs add color and punch. These marinated olives make a great dinner party appetizer! Remember to put them in the fridge if you don’t gobble them in one sitting.

Levant Style Marinated Olives

1 cup of olives of choice

Olive oil for drizzling

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Herbs of choice (I like parsley best)

Directions:

1. Toss olives gently in a few glugs of the olive oil. Add in herbs and garlic, and toss again.

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I could write a book on the infinite ways one can put together a Middle Eastern style breakfast. For now, I’ll simply say that I love this meal, and think more restaurants should offer it as a breakfast or brunch option. People need to get into this. Mezze for breakfast? Please sign me up!

Breakfasts tend toward the vegetarian side of things. Sometimes lamb sausage (merguez) will make an appearance, but it’s not a must-have. This type of breakfast is the perfect meal for those who have a light appetite in the morning, and it’s equally perfect for those who like to eat heavier for breakfast. You can eat a few bites, or a whole plate full of food. In other words, it’s flexible!

Here’s a breakfast I put together recently. It took all of about 7 minutes, including the time it took to scramble 2 eggs with a few snippets of fresh mustard greens, sundried tomato bits, and garlic.

One possibility for a Middle Eastern style breakfast. This meals tends to be vegetarian. That morning, olives, eggs, pita, and zatar dip with fresh garlic were on the menu. The cheesy-looking stuff I sprinkled on top is actually nutritional yeast. It's very popular with vegans and vegetarians as a way to get a cheesy flavor that's dairy-free.

The sesame and ground herb mixture on the left is zatar. I LOVE this stuff. Mixed with olive oil and a few bits of fresh garlic, it’s an immunity booster on a plate. The olives are filling and nutritious. The egg scramble was super simple. I just warmed a bit of olive oil, and lightly cooked some pieces of mustard greens, a few garlic bits, and some sundried tomatoes. Then I added in the eggs and scrambled them. (Scroll down for a more detailed recipe).

A nice change of pace from cold cereal, don’t you think?

Simple Egg Scramble with Greens and Sundried Tomatoes

2 large eggs, beaten (free range, organic eggs are best)

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

Olive oil to coat pan

1/3 cup chopped, washed mustard greens (Or greens of your choice. Use more greens if you like)

4 sundried tomatoes, chopped (Try cutting them with kitchen scissors)

Optional: Nutritional yeast or cheese of choice (Feta, Parmesean) for sprinkling on top

Directions:

1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a small skillet.

2. Once oil is shimmery, carefully place garlic bits in the pan and lower the heat immediately. Stir. Over low heat, add the greens and sundried tomatoes. Cook for approximately one minute, stirring as necessary.

3. Pour in beaten eggs. Fold eggs with a spatula. Keep the eggs moving by continuing to gently fold them with the spatula for another minute or two.

4. Remove the eggs from the heat when they look like they’re almost done. That way they won’t over-cook. Yes, they will look slightly under-cooked, but carryover heat will finish them off.

5. If using cheese or nutritional yeast as a garnish, plate the eggs and lightly dust them with the topping.

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