This weekend, I hosted a birthday dinner for my husband, but this year was different from all the rest. The entire menu was vegan and gluten-free. Several of the guests are vegetarian and a few are gluten intolerant. In addition, many of them are trying to avoid dairy, so I decided to just take the menu all the way. I knew that I would need help to make it an elegant, flavorful dinner with these restrictions in place. I am a newly-minted vegetarian chef, so I turned to my friend and amazing gourmet blogger/writer/instructor/video-maker, Viviane Bauquet-Farre, author of the blog food and style. Viviane and I met when I featured on her cooking videos on StreamingGourmet.com. Her videos are as beautifully made as her fine cuisine.
Viviane creates innovative, seasonal dishes that are flavorful, deceptively simple, and… as it turns out, vegetarian (not vegan or gluten-free necessarily). I read her blog and watched her videos for about six months before I even realized that they were all meatless. I knew she was the person to call for help with my menu.
Sure enough, we were able to come up with an elegant five-course dinner free of bones, cheese, cream or wheat. Eager to know what the menu was? You’re in luck, but you’ll have to check back. All five courses will be revealed over the next five days.
Today’s post is a bit of a teaser. These marinated olives were among the hors d’oeuvres on the table during the cocktail hour, but there are five courses yet remaining. The olives were devoured, but I have a confession to make. I don’t eat olives. I don’t think an entire olive has ever passed my lips. So I can’t vouch for them myself. And because I don’t eat olives, it didn’t occur to me to put a little bowl out to collect all the pits. It also didn’t occur to me to put out little toothpicks with which to pick up the olives. You can learn from my mistake and use a dish like this one (available at Amazon.com).
But this recipe is that good, because despite my lack of proper accoutrements, guests wolfed down these olives with their bare fingers and left the pits wherever they could hide them.
makes 2 cups
1/2 small fennel bulb
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fennel greens
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 strips lemon zest – (use vegetable hand-peeler) and cut in 1/16” julienne strips
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 lb mixed olives
Step 1: Trim and cut fennel bulb in half. Using a vegetable hand-peeler, shave 12 strips from the bulb and put in a large bowl. Place the balance of ingredients in the same bowl. Mix well and transfer to a Tupperware container.
Step 2: Let marinate at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.
Cook’s note: Refrigerate up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature before serving.