East Meets West – Olivada Crostini Gets an Eastern Makeover

Good morning everyone,

Today’s inspiration for the East Meets West Project is Olivada Crostini from The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Russo and Sheila Lukins, Page 4.  You’ll also find a lot of information on different olive varieties in this section.

This recipe is already vaishno so no challenge there.  Right?  Wrong.  We’re going to kick it up a notch by adding some eastern flavour.  Why?  Because that’s one of the goals of this project and also because that’s just how we roll around here.

I’ve made over both the Olivada Crostini recipe and the recipe for the olive spread – Olivada.  I hope you enjoy it.  Let me know how you like it.  And, as always, experiment, experiment, experiment and then let me know how your experiments turn out.

Olivada Crostini Meets the East

Ingredients

1 red bell pepper, cored, halved and seeded
1 yellow bell pepper, cored, halved and seeded
4 or 5 naan, cut into triangles and toasted (you should have about 20 triangles)
1 – 2 tsp crushed chili
1/2  tsp ground coriander seed
2 balls (6 – 8 oz each) fresh mozarella cheese
1 cup Eastern Olivada (recipe below)

Method

Preheat your broiler.  Lay the peppers skin side up on a flat broiling pan (or a baking pan coated lightly with olive oil), and place the pan 3 to 4 inches below the heat.  Broil the peppers until the skins are charred (they should be black).  Then place the peppers in a plastic bag, seal it with a twist tie (or zip the bag, if you use that type), and set aside.  Let the peppers steam in the bag for 20 minutes.  Leave the broiler on while this is happening.

Remove the peppers from the bag and peel them.  Slice them into thin strips and set them aside.  Slice the chappatis and toast them for about 20 seconds on each side.  Remove them from the broiler.  Slice the two mozzarella balls into twenty 1/4″ thick pieces.  Spread a small amount of Eastern Olivada on each piece of toast.  Place a small pinch of chili and crushed coriander seed on each toast.  Cover with a slice of cheese, and top with one yellow pepper strip and one red pepper strip, forming an X.  Broil for 30 seconds and serve immediately.

Tips

You can substitute pre-ground coriander powder for grinding your own seeds in a grinder.  The fresh ground seeds though provide a much brighter flavour.

Fresh mozzarella is hard to find where I live but it’s so much better than processed mozzarella.  Making your own (I know, I’m kind of hard core about the making things from scratch) mozzarella is fairly simple.  There are awesome instructions for it here:  Mozzarella Cheese without Rennet.

Most commerical mozzarella is made with rennet so, if you are vegetarian, vegan or vaishno, find a vegan mozzarella that uses either vegetable rennet (it’s available believe it or not) or uses vinegar or lemon juice to curdle the milk.  This type of mozzarella is rarely available where I live.  And this dear reader, is why I make my own.

Eastern Olivada

Ingredients

3/4 cup pitted black Italian or Kalamata olives
1 tsp finely minced garlic
2 tsp finely minced scallion or green onion (white part only)
1 tbls capers, drained
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp finely chopped cilantro

Method

Combine the olives, garlic, scallion and capers in a food processor and process for a few seconds to combine.  With the motor running, slowly drizzle the olive oil through the feed tube, and process until smooth.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the cilantro.  This will keep for about 3 days in the refrigerator, in an airtight container.

Tips

We added scallion and cilantro to complement the salty olives and capers and to also compliment the crostinis.  You can just as easily add the chili and coriander seed from the crostini recipe to this mixture, if you like, slightly shortening your prep time.

I use a little less than 1/4 cup olive oil, given that the Kalamata olives that I buy here are already packed in a briny oily liquid.

What Himmat?  No Salt?  I’m adding Salt!

Don’t.  Not only is too much sodium unhealthy for your body but there is already a lot of salty goodness in this dish from the olives and capers.  As always, be nice to your heart.  It’s sort of hard to live without it.  If you really want to up the saltiness of this dish, try experimenting with more or other spices instead.

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