There are several things I love about this cake: it’s easy; it’s gluten-free; it’s Paleo-friendly; it uses a modest amount of extra virgin olive oil (some cakes call for as much as a cup of your precious liquid gold); and it utilizes figs, which forever more will remind me of my latest idyll in Abruzzo. I ate the best figs of my life on this trip, all plucked from the trees on the Di Mercurio farm. If you can’t find fresh figs, top the cake with slices of fresh pear that have been tossed in a light coating of sugar and lemon juice.
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Zest of 1 small lemon
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large eggs
- Pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 cups fine almond flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 8 to 10 fresh ripe figs, stemmed and sliced crosswise
- Crème fraîche or sweetened whipped cream, for serving
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, lemon zest, honey, olive oil, eggs, and salt. Add the almond our and baking powder; whisk again until combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and top with g slices. (Arrange in concentric circles.) Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is golden and the center is set. Transfer the cake to a rack and let it cool for 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, invert the cake onto a cooling rack and let cool completely. Top with a second rack and turn the cake g side up for serving. Serve each slice with a dollop of crème fraiche or whipped cream.
Serves 8 — Recipe adapted from gourmandeinthekitchen.com
Olive oil’s affinity for roasted vegetables is well known. Here, it coats zucchini, a somewhat watery vegetable that benefits from a long roast. Serve it with chicken pork, beef, or tofu.
- 4 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
- Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/3 cup panko or other dry breadcrumbs
- 2 mild red chile peppers, such as Fresno, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons torn fresh mint
- 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Zest of 1/2 lemon
Preheat the oven to 250°F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment. In a bowl, toss the zucchini, garlic, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, thyme, salt, and pepper. Place the zucchini on the sheet pan, cut sides up.
Roast the zucchini for 90 minutes, or until the spears are tender and beginning to shrivel. Increase the oven temperature to 350°F. Continue roasting for 10 minutes. Transfer the zucchini to a serving plate or platter. Replace the parchment on the sheet pan.
In a small bowl, combine the panko with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Spread the panko on the sheet pan and toast for 3 to 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Sprinkle the zucchini with the panko, chiles, mint, Parmigiano-Reggiano, lemon zest, and a little more salt and pepper.
Serves 4 to 6 — Recipe adapted from bostonglobe.com
In Greece, stewed okra is colloquially called bamies (pronounced bum-yes) and is a staple in many homes, restaurants, and even the cafeterias attached to gas stations.
- 1 1/2 pounds okra, stems trimmed
- 1/2 cup white or red wine vinegar
- Coarse salt (kosher or sea)
- 2 teaspoons coarse salt (kosher or sea)
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- One 15 ounce can good-quality crushed tomatoes, undrained
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh at-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup water, plus more as needed
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Add 2 cups of water to a mixing bowl and add the vinegar and 2 teaspoons of salt. Add the okra pods and enough additional water to cover them. Soak for at least an hour before cooking.
Drain the soaking liquid off the okra but do not rinse the pods. Dry the okra well on paper towels.
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the okra, tomatoes, parsley, and water. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until tender, 40 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of the okra pods. Stir occasionally. Monitor the liquid level in the pot and add a bit of water if needed.
Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and serve.
Serves 4 to 6 — Recipe adapted from thespruceeats.com
Fennel is ubiquitous in the Mediterranean, growing wild in many areas. All parts of it are utilized, from the seeds that give Italian sausage its unique flavor to the bulb to the celery-like stalks and fronds. Its anise-y flavor goes well with a medium to bold extra virgin olive oil.
- 2 fennel bulbs
- 10 pitted black olives, preferably oil-cured, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange or lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 2 ounces coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
Trim the stalks off the fennel bulbs; reserve some of the feathery fronds for a garnish. (Save the stalks for another use.) Trim the bottoms, then remove the tough and stringy outermost layer from the bulbs. Slice very thinly. (Use a mandolin or meat slicer, if you wish.)
Add the fennel to a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and gently combine. Garnish with the reserved fennel fronds.
Serves 4 — Recipe adapted from simplyrecipes.com