Archives for posts with tag: olives


It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. A warm, sunny, almost no humidity Saturday in Brooklyn.

Bike: check. Saddle bag: check. Sunglasses, money: check check. Recipe? No la tengo.

I usually head to the market with a pretty good idea of what I want to buy and cook.  Not this weekend. Inspired in part by the new cookbook I’m editing, where the author’s focus is on method and what’s fresh, what inspires—rather than following a recipe exactly—I set off for the market with open eyes.

I went in search of what looked good. What’s in season right now, this week. I heard a rumor cherries were in and was hoping I might snag some of those.

But I got to the market late. One stall had em, not many, but I asked if they sprayed and the guy said yes. I appreciated his honesty but walked on by. If I’m buying produce from a Greenmarket I try at least to buy spray-free if not organic, even though it does cost more.

There was only one organic stand at the entire Grand Army Plaza market, at least that I could see. And the poor guy isn’t even on the main stretch with the other vendors but set back from the fray. Willow Wisp Organic Farm from Damascus, Pennsylvania. He did not have cherries. But kohlrabi, a variety of bok choy, cilantro, dill, numerous types of lettuces and radishes, and squash. Lots of squash.

That got me thinking. I’d buy my first zucchini of the summer and make a faux pasta with it. I have lots of basil growing at home so that would make for a nice combination. I bought some of the garlic scapes from Willow Wisp too, thinking I’d mash them with the basil and some olive oil. I knew I also had olives and walnuts back home and thought they’d add some nice saltiness and crunch. A raw and vegan (and gluten-free, if you’re into that kind of thing) lunch that takes just moments to put together.

This is a kind of lazy man’s pesto with big payoff. And a recipe of sorts just begging to be messed with. Just start with the zucchini squash and you can add whatever looks good or in season.

If you’ve never made “pasta” from zucchini before it’s simple. You can use a regular vegetable peeler and slice the squash lengthwise—you’ll end up with a big heap of zucchini strands that look remarkably like fettuccine. Garlic scapes are the long, curly stalks that jut out from garlic plants. You can chop the green curly scape and use it much like you would garlic; the flavor is milder but you will still end up with potent garlic breath.

There’s a blog I’ve been reading called This Rawsome Vegan Life and a while back I tried one of her recipes for a raw, vegan, zucchini pasta with sundried tomatoes. This is a kind of riff on that, so thank you Emily!


Zucchini Pasta with Basil and Garlic Scapes
Raw, vegan & gluten free
Serves 2

1/4 c olive oil
Handful of fresh basil, roughly chopped
1 garlic scape, diced (1-2 tbsp)
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon (more or less to taste)
Red chili flakes, pinch
2 large zucchini or 3 medium
1/4 c walnuts, rough chop
1/4 c black olives, rough chop
Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine the olive oil, basil, scapes, lemon zest and juice, and chili flakes in a glass or jar and muddle, trying to extract flavor from the basil leaves. Set aside for at least 15 minutes and prepare the pasta.

Using a vegetable peeler, slice the zucchini lengthwise until you end up with a heap of long strands. Place in a large bowl and toss with the basil oil. Let this sit for 10-15 minutes before eating, the zucchini will absorb more of the flavors. Add the walnuts and olives before serving. Salt and pepper to taste.

This recipe could be made with any number of substitutions or additions. Regular garlic (or none) instead of the scapes. Sundried tomatoes. Capers. Shallots. I think the most important part thing to get right is enough acidity, spice, and salt. Or fresh peas and ricotta or feta with mint instead of basil.

The two bottom photos are of Rockaway Beach from this past weekend and an art show hosted in part by PS1 at the Rockaway Beach Surf Club. My friend Shingo Francis’s work is the blue piece. I’m kind of regretting right now I didn’t stay for the Patti Smith – Michael Stipe – James Franco performance(s)!

And a final note on the World Cup: not pleased that Mexico lost to the Netherlands today, and not until the 88th minute or so. Looking forward to watching US-Belgium Tuesday.



I’ve been having a ball in my home-away-from-home state of Vermont. I drove up last Friday with my sister Emily and her dog, Julius. I’ve swam almost every day in Lake Champlain or Goshen Dam, avoided stepping on zebra mussels, eaten sweet and drippy peaches, visited the Middlebury food co-op (3x), walked around the Middlebury College campus with Arianna and Rafa, read and napped in a hammock, eaten maple cremees, accompanied friends on a blueberry-wine tasting, and tonight might go to the drive-in. I love summer!


I’m usually in Vermont this week every year, and in this post and this post from last July 4th I blogged about living the good life in Vermont too. In fact, I think I’ll make that cashew spread again. Why am I returning to Brooklyn tomorrow?

Before arriving last week I told my stepmom Bonnie that I wanted to make a French potato and green bean salad, like the one David Tanis wrote about recently in the New York Times. Think of it like an improved upon summer potato salad, with a mustardy vinaigrette instead of mayo, tossed with green beans, olives, and lots of fresh herbs. I made it Vermont-style, meaning, whatever Bonnie had in the garden and local eggs. From the garden I picked chives, purple and green basil, thyme, and flat-leaf parsley. I wish I’d remembered to toss in the remaining scapes we had, but used garlic instead. This salad can be prepared ahead and served room temp or cold, perfect for a summer picnic or barbecue.

Vermont Potato and Green Bean Salad

1 3/4 lb small red potatoes
Salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
1 large thyme sprig
1-3 garlic cloves, mashed to a paste, to taste
1 tbsp anchovy paste
1 tbsp chopped capers
2 tsp Dijon mustard
4 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 pound small French beans, or green beans
4 large eggs
Handful of chopped herbs: chives, parsley, basil
1/4 cup pitted, cured black olives

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the potatoes, a bay leaf, and the thyme. Simmer for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are still firm but can be pierced easily with a fork. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and cool. Don’t drain the water because you can use this later for the green beans.

2. Make the vinaigrette: In a bowl combine the garlic, anchovy paste, capers, mustard, and vinegar. Whisk in the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.

3. When the potatoes are cool, cut into thick slices. Season with salt and pepper, and cover with half the vinaigrette. Set aside.

4. Trim the ends of the beans and simmer in salted water for 3-4 minutes. Drain and cool under running water.

5. Cook the eggs: bring a pot of water to boil. Add the eggs gently and cook for about 8 minutes, 9 for a firmer yolk. Crack and peel immediately to cool. Cut each egg in half and season with salt and pepper.

6. When ready to serve, coat the green beans with the remaining dressing, and add to the potatoes. Arrange the eggs and olives on top. Garnish with the fresh herbs and serve.

Below are shots of the purple basil in the garden; ice cream from Middlebury; and I just had to have a picture with this teal green bug in town. There was a summer in California I drove around in a bright yellow one, I’ll see if I can find a photo of that. Happy 4th people.

Two Saturdays ago I was thwarted at my local farmer’s market in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. I walked over at 9 am, canvas tote in hand, and headed to the one stand that is known to carry fiddleheads during their fleeting three-week run at the markets. “Just sold the last ones,” the farmer told me, not without a proud smile crossing his face. And then he pointed to the couple who scored the last fronds. They looked pleased with themselves.

He tried to get me to buy some stinging nettles instead, which are basically the opposite of fiddleheads—whereas fiddleheads are furled, introspective, and soft, nettles have tiny stingers pointing out from the leaves daring you to touch them, let alone eat them. Fiddleheads are coy, nettles defiant. I passed on the nettles (although I do quite like to eat them) and was reassured he’d have more fiddleheads the following week, and maybe, but not likely, the week after that.

I found myself in Union Square Friday after work and much to my delight, despite the late hour, one stand with a tiny batch of fiddleheads remained at the Greenmarket. Joy! I bought them up, leaving just enough for another customer, so as not to be that person the farmer points to and says, “Sorry, she got the last ones.”

Now what to do with these sleeping beauties? I like to just steam or sauté them, dip them in a little melted butter, or serve with fish and rice. But I had an idea. I passed one of those bakery stands at the market that sells hearty loaves of rye and cheddar scones, and noticed big, thick slices of focaccia. Aha! What about fiddlehead focaccia? After all, the first time I had fiddleheads they were served on bruschetta; focaccia wasn’t all that different. And the fiddleheads could roast up nicely on the dough, along with any other toppings I decided to add.

So I bought some Kalamata olives, rosemary, and shallots and set out to make the dough. This recipe requires a bit of time because you have to let the dough rise twice—the first time for at least an hour and a half, the second time for about forty-five minutes. So it’s a good thing to make on a lazy weekend when you can fiddle around in your kitchen, then go do something else for a while, then come back, then do it again. I was pleased with the results — turns out fiddleheads work well with the flavors of rosemary and olives. The bread is salty, crunchy, and let’s face it, rather pretty and springy, no?

Fiddlehead Focaccia

2 c warm water
2 tsp active dry yeast
4 c flour (plus more for handling the dough) Note: I used 2 c all-purpose white flour and 2 c stone ground whole wheat flour
2 tsp salt
Olive oil (about 1/4 c total)
1/4 to 1/3 lb fiddleheads, cleaned, ends trimmed
1/2 to 1 c olives, pitted
1 shallot, sliced
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
black pepper

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add 2 c warm water. Sprinkle in the dry yeast and stir gently with a fork. Let stand until the yeast dissolves, about 10 minutes. (You don’t need a stand mixer to make this recipe, just strong muscles if doing by hand.)

Add the flour and salt to the yeast mixture and set the mixer to a medium speed, using the dough hook attachment. Mix for about 10 minutes, until the dough starts to come together and almost forms a ball. Oil a separate, large bowl, and add the dough, formed into a ball with your hands, to this bowl. Turn it around in the bowl so it gets coated with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a cloth towel and let it stand in a warm place until it doubles in size, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down the dough, knead it into another ball, and return it to the bowl. Let stand until it doubles again, about 45 minutes more.

Preheat the oven to 450 F. Grease a baking sheet with oil. Transfer the dough to the sheet and spread out with your fingers. Drizzle with olive oil. Let the dough rest for about 10 minutes. Then add the fiddleheads, olives, shallots, rosemary, and a sprinkle of salt and black pepper. Push the ingredients into the dough, and make more indentations with your fingers throughout the dough.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the dough starts to turn golden brown. Remove from oven, and serve warm or at room temperature.

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