2016-05-16 17.19.58

Description
Sun-dried tomatoes and olives remind me of my childhood. It doesn’t matter where I travel and live, I get regular cravings for these antipasto items: sott’olio (under oil) or sott’aceto (under vinegar).

Olives, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, aubergines, bell peppers and courgettes sott’olio were staple snack foods in our home growing up.

When I lived in Japan, these were the foods that I craved the most and simply couldn’t find at the time. Now several years later I live in China, so I can luckily get hold of the standard varieties.

I do prefer to buy my sun-dried tomatoes dried and dress them myself because I prefer to use a high-quality extra-virgin olive oil. Many of the well-known brands of sun-dried tomatoes are soaked in the less nutritious and less flavoursome sunflower oil.

You can see pictured below how I would make my own dressing. All you need to do is soak the sun-dried tomatoes in tepid water for at least 2 hours (preferably longer though), squeeze out all the water, pat them dry with kitchen paper and add them to a dressing of your choice. I personally like a simple dressing of cloves, fresh rosemary sprigs, fresh chillies, lemon peel and garlic cloves. But by all means experiment away.

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And as for the tapenade, you could use already dressed sun-dried tomatoes as pictured above and simply blend until smooth if you have them. If not, follow the recipe below.

As long as the tapenade is stored well-sealed in the refrigerator, it should keep for at least one week. You could cover the tapenade with extra drizzles of extra-virgin olive oil to preserve it for longer if you wish. I personally like my tapenade on rye toast or for dipping my Burdock Root Chips in. It makes a great vegan butter or spread to moisten dry food textures.

Preparation Time
5 minutes

Ingredients
Sun-dried tomatoes, 100g
Extra-virgin olive oil, 6-8 tbsp
Garlic cloves, 5-6
Oregano, dried, 1 tbsp
Red chilli flakes, a pinch
Sea salt, to taste
Ground mixed peppercorns, to taste

Preparation
1. Pre-soak the sun-dried tomatoes overnight or for at least two hours (they should feel soft when they are ready).
2. Squeeze out all the water and set aside to use for a dressing if like me you don’t like waste.
3. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and all other ingredients to a blender and blend the mixture until smooth.
4. Pour out into a well-sealed container and store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Alternative Options
Add different ground herbs for added flavour. Add a handful of salted caper berries for a different flavour. You could also add grated lemon or orange zest too.

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