Caponata ratatouille

Mediterranean vegetarian food is the most comforting to eat and beautiful to look at. This is a combination of the Provencal ratatouille and Italian caponata with the briny capers and olives added for a punch. It is from the wonderful BBC Food website and is very low calorie. If you need anything else with it, you could boil some rice or pasta with it.

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Serves 6

1 tbsp olive oil
1lb 10 oz eggplant, cut into 1 1/2″ chunks. If you don’t like eggplants you can use zucchini instead
1 large onion, cut into 1 1/2″ chunks
3 celery sticks, peeled and roughly chopped
2 large beefsteak tomatoes, skinned,deseeded and chopped into 1/2″ chunks
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp caper, drained
small handful pitted green olives
4 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1-2 tbsp cocoa powder, optional
Freshly ground black pepper
To garnish;
chopped toasted almonds
Chopped Italian parsley

Heat the oil in a non stick frying pan until very hot, add the eggplant and fry for about 15 minutes or until very soft. Add a little boiling water or stock to prevent sticking if necessary.
Meanwhile, place the onion and celery in a large saucepan with a little water or stock. Cook for 5 minutes or until tender but still firm.
Add the tomatoes, thyme, cayenne pepper, and eggplants to the saucepan. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the capers, olives, vinegar, sugar and cocoa powder and cook for 2 to 4 minutes.
Season with freshly ground pepper and add salt if you think you need it.
Divide between 6 bowls, garnish with the toasted almonds and chopped parsley and serve.


Chicken, green olive and lemon tagine with ginger and coriander

This is a beautiful tagine, especially as it also has ginger and coriander which complements the chicken so well.

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3 tbsp. olive oil
6 whole chicken legs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 large yellow onions, sliced
2 tbsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. ground white pepper
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground turmeric
½ tsp. crushed saffron threads
1½ cups chicken stock
6 oz. green olives, cracked
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
2 tsp. finely chopped cilantro
2 jarred preserved lemons, cut into slices

Heat the oven to 350° F

Heat the oil in an 8–qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, add to the pot and cook, turning, until browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
Add the onions to the pot, cook until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the spices, cook for 2 minutes. Return the chicken to the pot with the stock and boil.
Bake the chicken, covered, until tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Stir in the olives, butter, parsley, cilantro and lemons into the pot, and cook for 6 minutes.
Serve with rice or flatbread.

Moroccan-style chicken braise

I adore anything with lemons and olives, and this recipe is simple as it uses fresh lemons rather than the preserved lemons. It is wonderful to freeze and easy to double.  Make sure you start this recipe the night before as it needs to marinade and allow the flavors to “hang out”.

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Serves 2 to 3

For the spice paste
3 large, juicy garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
A pinch of sea salt
3 good pinches smoked paprika
3 good pinches ground turmeric
1 tsp cumin seeds (I use roasted seeds)
a good glug of olive oil

For the braise
6 large chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
a good glug of fruity olive oil
2 large onions, peeled and roughly chopped
Chicken broth or water (about 32 fl oz)
1 lemon, cut in half, thinly sliced
A pinch saffron threads
A good handful green olives, pits removed
A small handful fresh cilantro (coriander), roughly chopped

For the spice paste, crush the garlic cloves and sea salt with a pestle in a mortar. Add the smoked paprika, turmeric and cumin seeds and grind to a paste. Add just enough olive oil to make the paste runny enough to pour, but thick enough to coat the chicken.

For the braise, place the chicken thighs into a bowl, pour the spice paste over them and toss well to coat all of the meat. Cover with cling film and leave to marinade in the fridge overnight preferably or as long as time allows. It will only improve in flavor the longer you allow it to marinade.

Heat the olive oil in a large shallow pan, then cook the onions until softened. Add the chicken thighs and cook until colored lightly on both sides. Add the lemon slices and olives and pour in enough water or chicken broth (or a combination) to come halfway up the chicken pieces. Stir in the saffron, then season well, cover with a lid and simmer for about 25 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and tender. Add the fresh cilantro and serve with rice or couscous.

Simple roast chicken traybake with spiced potatoes and olives

I love roasted tray bakes, they are easy to make and are so versatile. Here is another version, and the flavors are beautifully intense.

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Serves 4
1 bay leaf, crushed
1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 1/2 lb fingerling potatoes, halved
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 whole chicken legs (leg and thigh attached) about 3lbs
1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley leaves with stems
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

* You will need a small spice mill, like a coffee grinder. It’s worth buying a second one and devoting it to grinding spices.

Preheat the oven to 450 F
Pulse the bay leaf, fennel seeds and 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes in a spice mill until finely ground.
Toss the halved potatoes, olives, 2 tbsp oil and half of the spice mixture in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper.
Place the chicken mixture on a rimmed baking sheet and rub with remaining 2 tbsp oil; season with salt and pepper and rub with the remaining spice mixture.
Arrange potato mixture around the chicken. Roast until the potatoes are fork-tender, chicken is cooked through, and the skin is crisp, 35 – 45 minutes.
Serve chicken and potato mixture topped with parsley, lemon zest and more red pepper flakes, if desired.
Spoon the pan juices around and serve.

Mediterranean quinoa salad

Don’t be put off by the long ingredient list. It’s a very easy salad to prepare and will be one of the best things you’ve ever eaten.
I absolutely adore quinoa and if you also like it, not only is this recipe great, these two other quinoa salad recipes below, also on this blog, are terrific.

I sometimes make these quinoa salads in double quantities and have them in the fridge for a week, adding chicken or salmon to them if we fancy, or just having a small bowl of it with some home made soup. The beauty of this salad is that you can change up the amounts of the vegetables and can replace or add with other things you like. Basically, play with it! I have also given you a few ingredients that are optional.
It’s very healthy, very filling without piling on the calories and soaks up the flavors.

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Easily serves 4 and can be augmented.
1 cup quinoa
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1x 15oz can of garbanzo or borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
2 Roma tomatoes,chopped or 4 oz sliced sun-dried tomatoes
3/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, sliced in half lengthways
2 tbsp capers, drained
1 medium English cucumber, seeded and chopped
5 scallions, chopped or 1 medium red onion, chopped
4 oz roasted red bell pepper, cut into chunks
2 tbsp fresh chives, chopped,
1/4 fresh mint leaves, chopped
1/2 cup Greek feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 green chili, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts or walnuts, optional
1/2 cup raisins, optional

Dressing ingredients (you may not need it all)
4 tbsp good olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 anchovy fillets, optional
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp red chili flakes, optional
salt and pepper to taste

Place the quinoa in a saucepan with the stock and bring to the boil. When boiling, turn down low to a simmer and put a lid on. Let it simmer on low for about 12 – 15 minutes until it becomes fluffy and all the liquid is absorbed. You will begin to see the “germ” of the grain appear on each piece of quinoa.
Remove from the heat,fluff with a fork and allow to cool with the lid off. (I sometimes tip it out onto a baking tray and spread it out to dry and cool a bit, it works faster this way)

In a very large bowl, combine the salad ingredients. Add the cooled quinoa to the salad.
Combine all the dressing ingredients in a blender and add about 3/4 of the dressing to the salad. Mix together really well, season with salt and pepper and add more of anything you like to get the exact flavor you want. Chill the salad in the fridge for about 30 minutes before serving. This gives the ingredients time to “hang out”
This is a very forgiving salad and I sometimes add toasted pine nuts, or raisins/currants to it for a change.

Roast chicken with dates, olives and capers

Thanks again to the incredible Yotam Ottolenghi for another Middle Eastern winner. The combination of sweet dates, briny green olives and tart capers, complements this dish so beautifully. It is best to prepare this dish 2 days before you need to serve it and leave it in the fridge to marinate so all the wonderful flavors permeate the chicken


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Preheat the oven to 350 F
8 whole chicken legs, drumstick and thigh attached and skin on.
5 large cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 oz fresh oregano, plus extra for garnish
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
4 oz pitted green olives
2 oz capers, plus 2 tbsp of their juices
3 oz Medjool dates, pitted and and quartered lengthways
2 bay leaves
4 fl oz dry white wine
1 tbsp date syrup or treacle
Salt and black pepper

Place the chicken in a large, non reactive bowl and add all of the ingredients, apart form the wine and date molasses, along with 3/4 tsp of salt and a good grind of pepper.
Gently mix everything together, cover the bowl and leave in the fridge to marinate for 1 to 2 days, stirring the ingredients a few times during the process.
Spread out the chicken legs on a large baking tray, along with all the marinade ingredients. Whisk together the wine and date syrup/treacle and pour over the meat. Place in the oven and cook for 50 minutes, basting 2 or 3 times, until the meat is golden brown on top and cooked through.
Remove from the oven, transfer everything to a large warm platter, sprinkle over some freshly picked oregano leaves and serve.


Chicken breasts stuffed with olives and goat cheese

I get more requests for the boneless, skinless chicken breast than anything else!   Here, chicken breasts are stuffed and then seared until golden-brown. The pan sauce is made separately, which both saves time and prevents the stuffing from getting into the velvety sauce.  Although really tasty, the sauce is optional, depending on how much time you want to devote to the dish. I have made it both ways very successfully.


Serves 4
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1-1/2 lb. total)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 oz. fresh goat cheese, at room temp
2 Tbs. coarsely chopped pitted Kalamata olives
2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest (from 1 large lemon)
1-1/2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 oz. (6 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbs. minced shallots
1-1/2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs. lower-salt chicken broth

With a sharp knife, cut a wide pocket into the thickest part of each chicken breast half, taking care not to cut all the way through. Season the chicken evenly on both sides with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper total.
In a small bowl, mix the cheese, olives, and 1 tsp. each lemon zest and rosemary. Stuff the pockets with the cheese mixture and pin each shut with two toothpicks. Spread the flour in a shallow bowl and dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking off the excess.
Heat 1 Tbs. of the butter and the oil in a 12-inch heavy-duty skillet over medium-high heat until the foam from the butter subsides. Add the chicken and cook, flipping once and adding another 1 Tbs. of butter halfway through cooking, until golden-brown and cooked through (reduce the heat to medium if necessary), 14 to 16 minutes total. Transfer to plates and remove the toothpicks. You can put them in the oven on low at this point, to stay warm, or even finish cooking at 300 F for 10 mins or so, if you like.
While the chicken cooks, melt 1 Tbs. of the butter in an 8-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the vinegar and boil until syrupy, about 3 minutes. Add the broth and boil for 1 minute more. Off the heat, whisk in the remaining 3 Tbs. butter, 1 tsp. zest, and 1/2 tsp. rosemary. Serve the chicken drizzled with the sauce.