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Slice of Life

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Olives an easily stored addition to dishes

Every parent who has ever sent a child to summer camp knows about color wars. The days-long, Olympics-like where what color/team you’re a part of defines you, empowers you and generally consumes every waking moment.

Our house color wars revolve around olives – team green and team black.

I’m the captain of team black, and my husband is the captain of team green. Our ambivalent shifting children could care less, they just want olives.

Just so we’re clear, aside from their taste and color, olives all come from the same tree. The only difference between them is the state of their ripeness when picked (green ones are harvested when they are immature, a bit denser and a tad more bitter, and black ones stay on the tree just a little longer and have a more mellow flavor).

Olives are one food you can keep on your pantry shelf, unopened for three to four years. Once opened, keep them in their original brine in a container with a lid or the original jar.

For the most part we use the stuffed green olive or the black from the can in most of our recipes. However, get creative and try some of the other varieties that specialty markets and gourmet sections of your supermarket now carry.

Classic Greek Salad

4 large tomatoes, cut into chunks

1 large cucumber, peeled and diced

1 green pepper, cleaned and chopped

1 red pepper, cleaned and chopped

1 red onion, sliced thin

1 head romaine, shredded

1 to 1 1/2 cups feta cheese, crumbled

14 to 16 Kalamata olives, pitted

Dressing:

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt and black pepper to taste

For the dressing: Combine all the dressing ingredients into a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake to combine and set it aside.

For the salad: In a salad bowl combine the tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, onion and romaine and toss to combine. Top with cheese and olives and drizzle the dressing on top. Toss to coat and serve. Serves 6.

Green Olive Chicken

4 chicken breasts

1/2 cup olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

1 1/2 cups uncooked rice

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 large can whole tomatoes

14 to 16 large green or black olives

1 cup chicken broth

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon chili powder or more to taste

In large skillet, heat the oil and lightly brown the chicken; don’t cook it totally. Remove the chicken from pan and drain it on paper towels. Don’t clean the pan. Add the onion and green pepper to pan and cook slightly. Stir in the garlic and rice. Cook stirring until rice is turning golden. Add the tomatoes, olives, chicken broth, oregano and chili powder. Bring the mixture to a boil and then add the chicken. Cover the pan and cook, at a simmer for 30 to 35 minutes or until the chicken is done.

Serves 4.

Traditional Tapenade

This is a thick olive topping that is terrific with crackers, bread or on chicken or fish.

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 to 4 tablespoons capers

2 anchovy fillets, rinsed

1 3/4 cups pitted black or green olives (or a combination)

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (fresh is best)

1/3 cup olive oil

Black pepper to taste (optional)

In a food processor combine all the ingredients and pulse until the mixture forms a paste.

Makes 2 cups.

– Modified from Epicurious.com

Slice of Life is a food column that offers recipes, cooking advice and information on new food products. It appears Sundays. If you have a question about cooking or a food item, contact Eileen Goltz at ztlog@frontier.com or write The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802.

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