A Gastronomical Adventure with Olives From Spain

October 30, 2013

Ethan Stowell, one of Seattle's most notable chefs and culinary genius behind the Ethan Stowell Restaurants empire, joined forces recently with Olives from Spain to create an olive-themed meal that has left me, only a few short days later, still drooling.

As part of a six-city olive awareness tour, the newly formed organization has partnered with local chefs across the country to feature Spanish olives in regionally-inspired tasting menus. Stowell's sophisticated yet approachable menu (yes, you can make these recipes at home!) served at his How to Cook a Wolf Mediterranean-inspired restaurant kept to his philosophy of transforming simple ingredients into gastronomic marvels. His dishes truly showed the versatility of Olives from Spain from his Fried Ripe Black Spanish Olives to Serrano Ham with Gordal Olives and Orange Peel (both perfect for holiday entertaining) to tender Grilled Octopus with Cauliflower, Gordal Olives and Pimentón.

A global leader for olive cultivation, Spain accounts for 39 percent of the world's olive trade. The initiative for Olives from Spain is led by Interaceituna, an Inter-Professional Table Olive Organization recognized by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment. Though olives are cultivated around the globe, Spanish olives hold deep ties as a culinary staple to the Kingdom of Spain. They're picked at optimal ripeness, have the perfect blend of taste and texture, and are packed with vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients. Best of all, they're affordable, easy to buy (both in supermarkets and online), and are easy to serve as an appetizer or incorporate into flavorful dishes.

How to Cook a Wolf restaurant will continue will continue the olive excitement by serving Olives from Spain to diners until the end of the year. See Chef Stowell's Olives from Spain tasting menu with his amazing recipes below.

Fried Ripe Black Spanish Olives
These little fried morsels are Mediterranean comfort food. They're the perfect fun, delectable, and easy  appetizer!

1 pound ripe black Spanish olives
4 eggs, cracked and whisked
2 cups breadcrumbs
2 cups flour
1 gallon canola oil

In a high-sided pot heat the oil to 350 degrees. The oil should be at least four inches deep.
In three separate and equally sized bowls place the flour, whisked eggs, and breadcrumbs. Toss the olives in the flour, making sure they are all evenly coated. Shake off any excess flour then toss the olives in the egg mixture, making sure they are evenly coated. Remove them from the egg mixture and toss in the breadcrumbs, making sure they are again evenly coated.

Once the olives are coated in the breadcrumbs, they are ready to put in the fryer. Shake off any excessive breadcrumbs and then fry them, in batches if necessary. Fry until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and the olives are hot all the way through, about 2-3 minutes. Drain on a paper towel, season with salt, and serve while hot and crispy. 

Serrano Ham with Gordal Olives and Orange Peel
This is easy appetizer can be prepared in a flash and it makes for a gorgeous presentation. Simply place Serrano ham in loose ribbons on a plate. Garnish with Gordal olives, generous pieces of orange peel (use a vegetable peeler to create ribbons), a torn bay leaf or two, and drizzle with Spanish extra virgin olive oil.

Manchego with Gordal Olives and Meyer Lemon Marmalade

½ pound Gordal olives, pitted and quartered
1 pound quartered and de-seeded Meyer lemons, about 12
1 pound sugar
1 pound water
Cut the Meyer lemon quarters into ½ inch slices and place in a high-sided pot that can easily hold them. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Strain the lemons after they come to a boil, and then repeat the boiling and straining process—this helps get the bitterness out of the lemons.

After the second boiling and straining, place the pound of sugar and the pound of water in the pot with the lemons. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Continue to cook on low heat for about 2 hours, or until the mixture has taken on a very thick consistency. Do not let the sugar caramelize—if the sugar starts to brown, add a couple tablespoons of water. Once you have achieved the correct consistency, add the olives and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes. Cool and store in your refrigerator until ready to use.

Serve with Manchego cheese.

Grilled Octopus with Cauliflower, Gordal Olives and Pimentón

1 whole 2-pound octopus
1 carrot
1 onion
1 rib celery
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon black peppercorn
Ingredients for Salad:
1 cooked octopus
1 head cauliflower, broken into small pieces and blanched
1 cup loosely packed parsley leaves
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1 T chopped fresh oregano
About 20 Gordal olives
1 teaspoon smoked Spanish pimentón (paprika)
Salt and pepper

To complete Octopus:
Rinse the octopus thoroughly under cold running water. Add all ingredients to a pot large enough to hold everything. Cover with cold water, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until octopus is tender, about 1.5 hours. Once tender, place entire pot in the refrigerator to cool, preferably overnight. Once octopus is cold, remove from liquid and pat dry. Store in the refrigerator until ready to grill.

To complete Salad:
Preheat a grill to high.
In a large bowl combine the Gordal olives, cauliflower, parsley, olive oil, vinegar and oregano. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside to marinate.

To complete Dish:
Brush the octopus with more olive oil and place on the hot grill. Grill, turning often, until the octopus is slightly charred all over, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from the grill and chop into bite sized pieces and add to the rest of the salad. Mix thoroughly and spoon onto a serving platter. Sprinkle the pimentón over everything and serve.

Roasted Swordfish with Manzanilla Olives, Cherry Tomatoes, and Capers
This rich, rustic and flavorful recipe combines the bold and fresh flavors of Spanish olives with the bright accents of citrus.   
Serves 4

4 six-ounce portions of swordfish, each about one inch thick
1 cup Manzanilla olives
4 cups of peeled cherry tomatoes in juice
4 teaspoons capers, rinsed
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 lemons juiced
1 cup loosely packed parsley leaves
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

To complete Sauce:
Heat ¼ cup olive oil in a high sided pot over medium heat. Peel and slice the garlic and add it to the warm oil. Sauté until the garlic is tender, not browned, then add the tomatoes and cook until the tomato liquid has reduce by half, about 20 minutes. Add the Manzanilla olives, capers, the juice of one lemon, parsley, and salt and pepper if needed. Set aside and keep warm until the swordfish is cooked.

To complete Swordfish:
Season the swordfish with salt and pepper. Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat and add about 1/4 cup olive oil. When very hot add the swordfish and cook until both sides are golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side. Set aside on paper towels to absorb any excessive oil.

To complete:
Just as the swordfish comes out of the sauté pan, divide the sauce between four warm dinner plates. Place one piece of fish on each plate, squeeze some lemon on each piece of fish and serve while hot.  

Salmon with Lentils, Bacon, and Gordal Olives
This elegant salmon dish features hearty lentils and flavorful Gordal olives.  

4 six-ounce portions of salmon
½ cup pitted and chopped Gordal olives
2 cups precooked lentils
½ cup chicken stock, preferably home made
¼ cup minced shallots
¼ minced carrots
¼ cup minced leeks
½ cup finely diced bacon
1/8 cup minced chives
1 lemon
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

To complete:
To make the lentils: Heat ¼ cup olive oil in a high-sided pot over medium heat. Add the bacon, shallots, carrots, and leeks. Cook until some of the fat from the bacon has rendered and the bacon is starting to get crispy. Add the lentils and chicken stock, bring to a boil and add salt and pepper if needed. Once seasoning is adjusted, add Gordal olives and chives and keep warm until ready to serve.
To cook the salmon: Season the salmon with salt and pepper. Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat and add about ¼ cup olive oil. When very hot, add the salmon and cook until both sides are golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side. Set aside on paper towels to absorb any excessive oil.

To serve:
Divide the warm lentils between four warm plates. Place a piece of salmon on each plate, squeeze a little lemon on each piece of fish and serve while hot.  

Roasted Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Manzanilla Olives
4 chicken breasts
1 cup Manzanilla olives
2 preserved lemons, rinds removed and thinly sliced
1 lemon, juiced
4 sprigs rosemary
1 cup loosely packed parsley leaves
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Heat a large, heavy bottomed, sauté pan over medium high heat. Add two tablespoons of olive oil to the pan. When hot add the chicken breasts skin side down. Cook until skin is golden brown and the skin is crispy, about 4-5 minutes. Flip chicken breasts over, add the rosemary sprigs to the pan and place the entire pan in the oven. Cook until the chicken is just cooked through, about 10-12 minutes, or until a thermometer reads 150 degrees internally. Remove the chicken from the pan, add the Manzanilla olives, preserved lemons, lemon juice, parsley, and about ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil to the pan—this will be the sauce.

Divide the chicken between four plates, heat the sauce over medium heat and spoon evenly over the chicken breasts. Serve while hot and enjoy with a vegetable side such as roasted onions or carrots.

Rack of Lamb with Artichokes Roasted with Gordal Olives and Mint
With a tender, herbed flavor, this dish blends the hearty and rich tastes of lamb with the silky smooth textures of Gordal olives and artichokes.    
Serves 4

8 individually cut lamb chops from the rack
1 T chopped marjoram
2 T chopped parsley
1 T chopped mint
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves smashed
2 T butter
16 Gordal olives
16 baby artichokes, tough outer leaves removed, stems peeled
Salt and pepper

To complete:
Preheat grill to high and preheat oven to 450 degrees.
In a mixing bowl combine ¼ cup olive oil, the marjoram, the garlic and one tablespoon of the parsley. With your hands, rub this mixture over all of the lamb chops. Let stand at room temperature for one hour. Season the lamb chops with salt and pepper. Place on the grill, working in batches if necessary. Grill on each side until nicely charred and cooked to medium rare, about 3 minutes on each side. Remove from the grill and let stand at room temperate until ready to serve.

To cook the artichokes, heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Split the artichokes in half length-wise. Add the artichokes, two tablespoons of olive oil and the butter to the pan and sauté for about 3-4 minutes. Remove pan from the heat add the Gordal olives then place the entire pan in the 450 degree oven. Cook until the artichokes are tender, about 8-10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and add the remaining parsley and mint. Serve next to the lamb chops and enjoy.

Stay in touch!
Olives from Spain on Twitter and Facebook.
Ethan Stowell Restaurants on Twitter.

Editorial disclosure: this media lunch was generously provided by Olives from Spain and Ethan Stowell Restaurants.