French Green Beans and Baby Tomatoes with Tapenade (4)

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French green beans or haricots verts as they are known in France are a thinner version of the traditional green beans found in the US and UK and I much prefer them. In France haricots verts and tomatoes are often combined, whether it be in a salad or a hot dish such as this. I have added tapenade – a traditional Mediterranean appetizer often served on toasted bread in a similar way to bruschetta or used as a dip for crudites – and stirred it in with the vegetables. Tapenade at its most basic combines black olives, capers and olive oil. My version also includes anchovies, garlic and lemon juice. If you don’t want to make it yourself you may be able to find it in your local supermarket. Goes well with lamb or firm white fish.

8 oz thin green beans – topped, tailed and cut in half

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 oz cherry tomatoes – cut in half

1 tbsp. tapenade (or more if you want)

Boil the green beans for just a few minutes until ‘al dente’, then drain.

At the same time put 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. When sizzling add the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes become soft and browned on both sides.

Add the beans and 1 tbsp. of tapenade to the pan with the tomatoes and the juices and toss well together.

TAPENADE (makes approx. 1 cup – which is more than you need for this recipe)

1 x cup pitted black olives

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 heaped tbsp. curly parsley

1 tbsp. capers – drained

1 large clove garlic – cut into small pieces

4 anchovies

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Place all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend to your desired consistency.

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Tomatoes with Hummus and Tapenade (serves 4)

Tomatoes with Hummus and Tapenade (serves 4)

Take a couple of large ripe tomatoes, slice them and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Spread half the tomato slices with hummus, the other half with tapenade (see my recipes for both). Or you could combine the idea and top the tomato slices with black olive hummus (also see my recipe). Makes a nice appetizer or salad.

Mediterranean Cauliflower (serves 4)

Mediterranean Cauliflower (serves 4)

Cauliflower is quite bland as a vegetable by itself. Hence, cauliflower cheese, cauliflower with a white sauce. If I have it by itself I usually roast it so it has both crunch and extra taste from the browning. For this recipe I combined it with spinach sautéed in olive oil and garlic salt and I mixed it all together with 2 tbsp. of tapenade (see my tapenade recipe). I served it with boneless pork chops. I think it would also go well with a firm white fish, which would make it even more Mediterranean.

2 1/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 small cauliflower – cut into florets
8 oz. fresh spinach
2 tbsp. tapenade
Salt, freshly ground black pepper, garlic salt

Toss cauliflower florets in 1 tbsp. olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper and roast in oven for 30 mins. until just tender.
Saute spinach in remaining olive oil seasoned with garlic salt.
Mix cauliflower and spinach with 2 tbsp. tapenade.