Olives and olive oil – top tip

I love olives, especially the black slightly crinkly one with stones – they are the ripest (stoned black olives in brine are actually semi ripe, otherwise they couldn’t be pitted mechanically, and then dyed black – they do have their uses, but you have to know the name of a good brand, ‘cos they often taste like chipboard) – however, I don’t eat them every day, or even every week – and they end up drying out or getting a slightly winey fermented flavour – I’m sure this happens to lots of people.
On the other hand, who can afford the really expensive fruity olive oil that you keep just for salads (the too good to cook with kind) anymore?
So, next time you buy olives in a pack, take a clean jar with a lid, place olives inside and cover with ordinary olive oil – your olives will last for months and months and the olive oil will become fruity and olivey and taste considerably posher than it did straight from the bottle. My jar is about 10 months old and still as fresh as a daisy.

The cheapest and best olives in Whitechapel are sold in £1 bags from the Algerian stalls on Whitechapel market – otherwise try Turkish/Moroccan/Algerian shops where they’re sold loose or in packs – all good quality. The cheapest and actually award winning olive oil is in Lidls – Primadonna brand, £2.19 -£2.80 for 750ml, depending if they’ve got it on special offer, which seems to be quite often.


Butterbean salad for supper-last tuesday week!

Ok, got some catching up to do…I am going to get on top of this and get disciplined…so

I used some wild garlic (Ransom) leaves – roughly torn by hand and then gently wilted in olive oil for 30 seconds and marjoram in mine.
This is a really good main course salad for when salad greens are expensive and imported. It’s also about 50% out of the store cupboard, and depending on what you add to it, can be made to travel well for work/picnics – nothing worse than slimy lettuce leaves that have got a bit warm, eh?
The way you assemble it may seem weird, but it ensures that the beans soak up flavour from the vinegar, without making the bread go pappy and soggy.

Ingredients – serves 2 as a main course, 15mins
Core ingredients –
1 can butterbeans
1 small red onion, finely sliced
8-10 cherry tomatoes left whole, or 2 tomatoes, cubed, if you’re going to eat it straight away.
Handful (about 5-6 per person) black olives, the shiny, slightly wrinkly kind.
1-2 slices stale bread, toasted
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons balsamic or sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Black pepper
Mean pinch of salt to taste – you won’t need as much as you think, because of the olives.
Herb of choice

Optional ingredients if you’re eating it straight away
10 cm length of cucumber, cubed or 1 small Lebanese cucumber, cubed
Handful of baby spinach leaves

Optional ingredients if you’re making it for later
Lightly cooked green beans, cut into 2cm lengths
Roasted red pepper, torn into shreds
Sweet marjoram, thyme or rosemary

Lightly toast bread, and leave it in the toaster or under the turned off grill.
Rinse butter beans, and add to a bowl with the onion and a healthy twist of coarse black pepper – mix by hand and gently squeeze – you want the beans to keep their shape, but some of their skins to slightly break so the flavours get in. Add vinegar and mix again.

Re-toast bread (you want it to be completely dry without it burning) and rub the garlic clove over both sides, then tear into smallish chunks or cut into cubes. In a separate bowl, combine oil and bread. If you’ve only got white sliced, and you’re making this salad for later, it is worth gently frying your toasted cubes in the oil like croutons.

Add tomatoes, olives, salt, herb of choice and anything else you’re using to the beans and mix. If you’re eating it straight away, you can mix in the bread as well, if not, lay it on top of the salad and mix when you come to eat it….it doesn’t matter if some of the oil gets into the salad – in fact that’s a good thing, but you don’t want the bread to sit in the vinegar too long before you chow down.