Everyone is relaxed and ready to extend the weekend by a few hours nestled around a table filled with good food and conversation. Meals vary depending on the mood but a few sure ingredients remain the same, by heritage or taste. Charcuterie, good crusty breads, nibbles of cheese and olives, fish or grilled meats and plenty of fresh and colorful sides. And if you are invited to our house, you know there will be olives involved.
One recent Sunday afternoon, we decided to gather new friends and have an olive themed dinner. Sundays are definitely meant for cozy dinners. A last hooray before the week starts all over again.
Any gathering we host start with an antipasto tray revolving around a few good cured meats, some burrata or other cheese, pickles, seasonal fruits, green and black olives of sort. My favorites remaining kalamata, tiny shriveled oil cured or plump marinated black olives and pickled garlic stuffed green olives. I am the one eating olives like they are M&Ms. That's where my heritage shows through. Provence is never far away from any dish I cook.
We followed with pan seared lamb chops with kalamata chimichurri sauce, a colorful market fresh tabbouleh salad with black olives, heirloom tomatoes, persimons, cucumber, radishes and thinly sliced red onions. All dressed in a creamy parsley vinaigrette. My favorite of the evening was a warm mushroom salad with olives and thyme filled with lobster mushrooms, chanterelles and portobello mushrooms. So so good. I want to make it again with a poached egg on top for a simple weeknight dinner or brunch.
Laughs. Good food and wine. Plenty of stories to go around is how I love spending a weekend evening. It doesn't matter whether our friends are good cooks and want to participate. We just like to get together and share stories and memories around a good meal. If you have an anecdote at the ready, there is definitely a plate awaiting you at our table!
How do you enjoy some down time with friends and foods during the busy holiday season? Curious minds (mine!) want to know! Enjoy the recipes below and please share with me and Lindsay Olives what makes your holiday moments special and enter their holiday sweepstakes (link here).
Market Fresh Tabbouleh Salad:
1 1/2 cup large pearl couscous
3 cups water
1 teaspon olive oil
2-3 heirloom tomatoes, thinly slices
1 persimon, thinly sliced
4-5 radishes, thinly sliced
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
1 Persian cucumber, thinly sliced
micro basil or micro greens to garnish
Bring the water to boil in a medium saucepan with the oil and a touch of salt. Add in the couscous and cook for 8 to 10 minutes over a low boil. Remove from the heat, drain and rinse under cold water. Add the tabbouleh to a large bowl and gently add in the remaining ingredients (minus the garnishes). Drizzle with the vinaigrette (recipe below), garnish if desired and serve.
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 garlic clove grated (use a microplane) or minced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1 small handful fresh parsley
1/4 cup olive oil In a food processor, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic clove, vinegar and salt and pepper and parsley. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until creamy. Toss with the salad.
Pan Seared Lamb Chops With Olive Chimichurri
Serves 4 to 6
2 pounds lamb chops (lamb rib chops)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Place the lamb chops on a baking sheet and rub with the salt, pepper and garlic clove. Place the breadcrumbs in a shallow dish and dip the lamb chops in the crumbs, evenly coating each chop.
Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat with 2 tablespoons olive oil, sear the chops for two minutes on each side. Remove them from the skillet, cover them with foil and let stand for 5-10 minutes (they will be medium rare at this point).
Serve with the olive chimichurri sauce (recipe follows).
1 cup kalamata olives, pitted
1 cup parsley
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1/3 cup chopped red onion
juice of one lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
Combine all the ingredients but the oil in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the oil and stir by hand. Adjust salt and pepper if needed. Set aside until ready to use with the lamb chops.
Warm Mushroom Salad:
3 pounds mushrooms (we used a combinatio of portobello, lobster mushrooms, chanterelles)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 sprigs of thyme
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/2 cup mixed green and black olives
salt and pepper to taste
Clean the mushroom of any dirt with a kitchen towel. Slice them in half or bite size pieces for the larger ones.
In a large skillet set over medium high heat, melt the butter and olive oil. Toss in the mushrooms with the thyme and cook, covered, until they release their liquid, about 3 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook for about 8 minutes or until their liquid has almost evaporated. Remove from the heat and ass in the vinegar, olives and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.