There are a rare number of foods that I don't like, but one that has notoriously disagreed with my palate is the olive. Yet, I am determined to acquire the taste for the power-packed icon of Mediterranean flavor, and so, I have gotten into the habit of trying and re-trying olives every chance I get. My tastebuds accepted some varieties sooner than others -- the mild green olive was a quick convert, though I have had a harder time accepting the kalamata and bolder black varieties. It has been a slow transitional process, but I have found myself beginning to appreciate a range of olive types for their distinct flavors and ability to add punch to a dish. Appreciation has turned to fondness in recent weeks as I've tried recipes that not only integrate olives into the ingredient list, but some that even feature olives as the star.
Exhibit A: MEDITERRANEAN OLIVE BREAD -- I never anticipated making a bread centered around the olive, but this quick-bread from Merrill Stubbs, co-founder of food52, is truly divine.
MERRILL'S MEDITERRANEAN OLIVE BREAD
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup chopped pitted imported olives (I used Kalamata)
1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 350º F. Grease a 6-cup loaf pan.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, rosemary, and salt. In a large bowl, stir together the eggs, milk and olive oil. Add the flour mixture and fold until about three quarters of the dry ingredients are moistened. Add the olives, and fold just until the pieces are distributed and the dry ingredients are moistened; the batter will be stiff.
3. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 5 to 10 minutes before unmolding to cool completely on the rack. Serve with olive oil for dipping.
To accompany the bread, I made a Greek fritatta using quintessential Mediterranean ingredients such as feta, olives, tomatoes, rosemary and olive oil:
2 egg whites
1 tomato, chopped
2 cups spinach
8 olives, chopped
2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
crumbled feta cheese
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp olive oil
1. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and egg whites. Add chopped rosemary and set aside.
2. In a medium skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. Add spinach and saute in batches until wilted; add garlic with last batch of spinach.
3. Spread spinach evenly over bottom of pan; pour egg mixture over spinach. Evenly sprinkle tomatoes and olives into the pan. Cover and allow eggs to set.
4. Cook for 6-8 minutes until eggs are nearly set; remove lid and sprinkle crumbled feta on top. Re-cover and cook an additional several minutes until eggs are cooked through.