Olives Two Ways – Part 2: Dry Salt-Cured

Dry salt-cured olives

Last year I posted a recipe for preparing olives in brine – and I must say they came out well! This is another method of curing olives and the end result is totally different, although also delicious.

Salt-cured olives come out with a very intense, salty and actually slightly sweet flavour, and are great to add punch to dishes, especially Mediterranean-style recipes. You can also eat them straight up – I can personally only manage 2 or 3 at a time though as they’re so salty and intense (as opposed to, say, 10 or 20 at a time of brined olives).

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Star Ingredient: Sunflower Seeds

Toasted sunflower seeds

I love sunflower seeds! They’re totally delicious and go well with so many things, both sweet and savoury. You can eat them raw or slightly toasted, which really brings out their nutty flavour.

Sunflower seeds come from sunflowers (no surprise there), and are naturally encased in a gray or black shell, which sometimes has stripes. If you want to grow sunflowers or sunflower shoots (which by the way are also delicious and nutritious), you will need them in their shells.

I buy them raw, shelled and by the kilogram from my local nut and seed supplier, Yellow Submarine, which is a lot cheaper than buying a small packet from a supermarket. You can also buy them ready-roasted at some retailers if you can’t be bothered to toast your own.

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Olives Two Ways – Part 1: Brined

Who doesn’t love olives? Actually I know some people who don’t but I can’t understand that at all. When I was growing up, we used to count them out on to everyone’s plate when serving up salad with dinner, to make sure no-one got more than their fair share. A sad but true story.

A happier story is that not only are olives delicious, but they’re also really good for you, being high in healthy fats as well as a multitude of vitamins and minerals, not to mention anti-oxidants. For more on their health benefits, see here, here and here, just for starters.

The thing with olives though is that they’re very more-ish and a bottle really doesn’t last very long, plus they’re expensive (here in South Africa anyway). So years ago when a friend told me she could get fresh olives direct from an olive farm, I jumped at the chance to make my own and ordered 5kg.

Since then, I’ve made a batch every year I’ve been able to get my hands on some, which sadly hasn’t been every year but certainly many of them. Those years I enjoy eating them till they’re coming out my ears and they also make great gifts to give away.

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Potato Rosti

Potato rosti with roasted fennel and smoked trout

Rosti go by many names – rösti, potato pancakes, hash browns and latkes, to name just a few – and come in many variations. At heart though, they are simply grated potato mixed with a little salt, and whatever other flavourings you choose to add, like onion, herbs and/or cheese. I’ve been wanting to try them for ages and when a friend bought round some smoked trout, I decided it was the perfect opportunity.

After doing some fairly extensive research on Pinterest (there are quite a few methods out there, believe me), I decided to keep the base very simple and rather go wild on the toppings.

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Beetroot, Avocado and Feta Salad

Beetroot, avocado and feta salad

Yes, it’s autumn (nearly winter) here in South Africa and some people may feel that salad is only for summer. I completely disagree – salad is delicious and nutritious any time of year! I will say though that varying what you put in your salad at different times of the year makes sense. As soon as the starchy veggies, like beetroot and butternut, start to make an appearance, it’s officially classified as an autumn/winter salad (according to me).

In this very simple and delicious recipe, beetroot and avocado are the stars, complimented by a few other ingredients that add pizzazz.

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Lemon, Almond and Ricotta Tartlets

Lemon, almond and ricotta tartlets

I’ve been looking for a recipe like this for a long time, after first tasting an Italian Ricotta cake made by Hmmm a few years ago. I found a few recipes which helped, especially this one by Cakelets and Doilies, which it seems she adapted from a Donna Hay recipe.

So basically this concept has been around the block a few times, and when you taste it, you’ll know why it’s so popular. It’s light and almondy, moist and crumbly, with a lemon flavour that can be subtle or quite strong, depending on how you like it. As a bonus, it’s gluten-free and if you wanted to make it sugar-free/paleo too, I imagine it would work very well if you used honey or something like xylitol instead.

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