Bruschetta is a classic Italian appetizer or snack, consisting of bread rubbed with garlic and topped with chopped tomato, olive oil, salt and pepper. Outside of Italy, bruschetta has become a word used for toast topped with just about anything. The most popular is diced tomato with olive oil and mozzarella or other cheese.
Caprese salad, or “insalata Caprese” is another Italian antipasto, or appetizer. Created to resemble the colors of the Italian flag, red, white and green, it consists of thick slices of tomato, fresh mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil leaves. Normally topped with olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette.
Since these are two of my favorite Italian appetizers, I decided to combine them into one delicious bite. However, at the time I had no fresh mozzarella. Nor basil. Hence, the “mock-caprese”. However, you could use realistically any white cheese, and any fresh herb, and I’m sure it would be tasty.
1 thick slice farmhouse bread (or other whole wheat slice)
Fish is healthy and delicious, especially white fish like Alaskan pollock, but it can be bland or boring. Some think this is a negative, but I see it as a huge perk. Fish is the perfect neutral, like a flattering beige sweater or couch. You can dress it up however you like, and it goes well with all types of spices, cooking styles, toppings, and side dishes.
Tapenade is a classical Provençal French dip slash topping. It has also been growing in popularity in other areas of the world, like Greece and the US. The base ingredient is olives. The rest of the ingredients vary by location and chef. Typically, capers, olive oil, garlic, and anchovy fillets are also involved. But there are plenty of variations in which you don’t need anchovy, or no olive oil. (I had sardines, not anchovy, so I used that instead. And it turned out fine.)
Ever since I bought a jar of pimiento and a jar of kalamata olives, I’ve been wanting to make olive tapenade. I finally put it on my meal plan, and made it with some white fish fillets. It was indeed everything I ever dreamed it would be!
It is an amazing topping for fish, but I imagine there are so many other possible uses. Spread on crusty bread slices, a condiment for a sandwich, in pasta like pesto, a dip for crudites, a stuffing for poultry, or as a salad dressing. The possibilities are endless! And it keeps for some time in the fridge, as long as you pour a thin layer of olive oil on top to preserve it. So make a big batch.
3 white fish fillets
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 tbsp fish sauce
Salt + pepper
1 cup rice
1 can diced tomatoes
2-4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup olives, pits removed
3 garlic cloves
1 anchovy or sardine fillet
4 tbsp lemon juice
Step 1: In a frying pan, place the three fish fillets and cover with lemon juice & fish sauce. Cover with a lid and let cook for 5-7 minutes, then flip. When fish is fully white and flakes easily with a fork, it is ready. Season as desired.
Step 2: While fish cooks, place olives in a blender or food processor. Meanwhile, boil the rice in 1 cup water and 1 can of diced tomatoes, not drained for 20-25 minutes, until fully cooked.
Step 3: Blend the olives. Add the garlic, sardine, lemon juice, and a few tbsp olive oil. Blend, adding extra juice or oil as needed to make it smooth.
Step 4: Place a scoop of rice on a plate, add a fish fillet and a smear of the tapenade topping.
I got a little creative with the plating. Which do you think looks best?
The fish is tart and moist yet firm, and is a perfect canvas for the olive masterpiece. The level of saltiness will depend on which type of olive(s) you use, I had a combination of green pimiento and kalamata. You can omit the sardine or anchovy fillet if you don’t have it or don’t like it, but I think it adds an extra layer of “seafood” taste, and since they were packed in tomato paste they also added a subtle tomato flavor.
This is a great, healthy alternative to something like mayonnaise or hummus, with lower fat and carb content yet a huge hit of flavors. Take a walk on the Mediterranean side and try some tapenade today.
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