On a couple of occasions at the finca in Orgiva, Spain, Babs and I had the always-fun opportunity to whip up a meal based on whatever was already in the house and on the land.
The above was a happily successful experiment inspired by the tubs of the unused olive harvest from the winter sitting around in the kitchen and living room, and vague (and delicious) memories of Teochew and Thai olive fried rice.
With 6 cups of rice for 8 diners we thought we might have over-catered as usual -- given there were 2 kids among us -- but the only leftovers was a tiny snack for Zumbar.
Olive Fried Rice
6 cups of brown rice, preferably organic
1 medium bowl of brined olives, pitted (if not already pitted) and finely chopped
1 large onion (about the size of 2 joined fists), finely chopped
1 bulb of garlic, skinned and finely chopped
1/2 cup olive oil, preferably extra virgin and organic
Salt and pepper to season
- A lesson from my mother: The key to frying rice is to fry already-cooked and cooled-down rice, so that the grains don't break up while being tossed about in a wok. So steam your rice at least a few hours ahead of frying or even the night before
- Cook the rice in a rice cooker. If cooking in a pot, use 3 cups water for every cup of rice. Combine the rice and water. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt. Turn the stove heat up to high. When the water boils, turn the heat down to as low as possible, and cover the pot. Depending on how much husk is left on the rice, it can take anything from 15 to 45 minutes to cook. Check by fluffing with a fork and tasting. If it's absorbed all the water but still crunchy, add a little boiling water. If it's cooked but too wet, drain the water and let the stove heat dry the rice for a few minutes
- To fry, add the olive oil to a large wok or pot, turn the stove heat on high and heat for a couple of minutes
- Add the chopped onion and garlic, and fry for a couple of minutes
- Add the olives, and continue frying until the onions goes translucent
- Add the rice, and continue frying until the rice is roughly equally stained by the olives
- Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve up!
To pimp this dish up, consider adding chopped basil. A more traditional Teochew or Thai rendition would likely involve adding minced pork. If going down this route, season the minced pork with light soy sauce and white pepper, and add to the wok after the onions and garlic but before the olives and rice.
Summer Veg Griddle and Salad
For the veggie griddle, I sliced up a few courgettes and red and green peppers (eggplant would work well too) into flat strips, laid them flat on a tray, drizzled olive oil and sprinkled salt, ground black pepper and dried basil and oregano and left it to sit for ~1/2 hour.
Turn the stove heat on medium-high under a griddle pan. Place a layer of the sliced veggies on the pan and leave for 3-5 minutes, then turn over. Continue until you get your desired level of softness and charred-ness.
You can also grill the veggies on an outdoor BBQ, or in a roasting tray in the oven, if you already have one or the other going for a large meal. Both should take about 15-20 minutes, though the roasting option is less likely to produce the smoky and singed-skin effect.
For the salad, dice up some cucumbers and tomatoes (depending on the size of your dining party), add a sprinkle of chopped onion, and drizzle olive oil, a good squeeze of lemon juice or a dash of vinagrette, and a sprinkle of dried basil and oregano, salt and cracked black pepper. Mix, and serve up.