Celebration of the end of the olive harvest Part 1
The olive harvest is nearing its end in the East Med and I am minded to mark this with a dish in celebration. I am also reminded of its true purpose rather than a popular substitution for vegetable oil. My father, who in his typical dramatic and exaggerated way, proclaimed all mass produced olive oil as “poison”. He set about a few years ago to make olive oil from his own olive trees, which he did, rather well. As the beneficiary of the aforementioned oil I have little choice but to uphold his views but when I find my supplies dwindling, my all-time favourite is Zaytoun a Palestinian organic olive oil. I discovered this by chance a few years ago hiding on the top shelf behind the counter at a Cypriot greengrocers in North London. It has the same peppery flavour that I love about my father’s oil and I am pleased that it has grown in popularity, see links.
I spent a lot of time thinking about which dishes to best showcase olive oil, and predictably I chose dishes that feature my two favourite ingredients, goat and octopus. Not being able to decide between the two I decided to make both, it is the weekend after all. The goat is served with a salad because it’s such a delicate piece of meat. The salad has a warmed whey cheese and crisp breads both popular in the East Med. The crisp bread in the salad gives the dish good texture and the cheese with the cinnamon adds an extra dimension – both ingredients will soak up the olive oil. The cheese is typically used in bourekia (or variations of these), breakfast dishes and desserts. A good alternative would be ricotta. The crisp breads vary so much in type and brand that I could dedicate an entire blog on them. I choose the ‘standard ones’ which have sesame and aniseeds. An alternative in this specific context would be very chunky homemade croutons with seeds.
The octopus (click here for post) is fresh and I can either cook it quickly or very slowly. Without an outdoor grill I choose to slow cook it which results in a luxurious finish with a soft fish flavour. The juices are packed with flavour and the bulghur wheat will soak everything up. The fried vermicelli in the bulghur wheat will give a lovely toasty flavour and smell.
The fish is from the UK and purchased from Wing of St Mawes (see links) in Cornwall and who deliver. The kid is from Cabrito (see links).
Part 1 – Seared loin of kid in olive oil and marjoram with a salad of spinach and whey cheese
Tenderloin of kid
Tablespoon of chopped fresh marjoram
Tablespoon of olive oil
Zest of half a lemon
Salt to taste
Ingredients for salad
140g of anari (Cypriot whey cheese)
120g of spinach
4 oven -dried tomatoes (I dried fresh large deseeded tomatoes in the oven for 3 hours at 140◦C / 275F / Gas 1 with oregano, salt and olive oil)
Ten black olives
2 east Mediterranean style crisp breads roughly broken up
Half a teaspoon of cinnamon
A generous glug of olive oil
Salt to taste
- Preheat the oven to 150◦C / 300F / Gas 2
- Marinade the tenderloin in olive oil, lemon zest and fresh marjoram for 30 minutes.
- Wash the spinach and leave to drain.
- Crumble the cheese and mix in the cinnamon, place in an oven proof dish. Gently warm the cheese in the oven for ten minutes.
- While the cheese is warming roughly chop the spinach and tomatoes and place into a salad dish. Add the olives and roughly broken up crisp breads.
- When the cheese is ready add to the dish and pour on some good quality olive oil. Season with salt.
- Increase the oven temperature to 200◦C / 400F / Gas 6 and heat a griddle pan. Place the tenderloin on the hot griddle pan for 2 minutes on each side.
- Season with salt to taste and finish in the oven for 6 minutes for medium cooked. Allow to rest.
- Carve the meat in thick slices and place on top of the salad.
I originally included fresh cherry tomatoes but decided that they didn’t add much especially as the oven-dried tomatoes have such a strong flavour.