First published in July 2006, this updated pantry ingredient post features new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe. I've been making these veggies for more than twenty years, and I've never tired of the fresh flavor and crunch of lightly-cooked vegetables in a pan vinaigrette. All of the ingredients are available year-round, so you can bring color to the table even in mid-winter.
Kalamata, picholine, frantoio, arbequina, souri ... I've never met an olive I didn't want to take home, but good old black olives in a can are the only ones that merit a permanent place in my pantry.
Native to the Mediterranean region, olive trees can grow to an old age, with trunks up to 30 feet in diameter. More than 300 cultivars of olives grow in Italy. Spanish missionaries brought olive trees to California, now a major producer of olives.
Olives aren't a low-calorie food, but they are high in monounsaturated fat (the "good" fat). The mild flavor of ripe black olives perks up, but doesn't overwhelm, my famous summer salad, made with chunks of crispy green lettuce, tomato, nectarine, cucumber, and Great Hill blue cheese (sounds weird, I know, but try it).
I love black olive tapenade, which combines canned black olives with tart green ones, but most often I use black olives in a large batch of these vinegar vegetables, a favorite vegan and gluten-free accompaniment to grilled fish, chicken or beef. It's a dish that works hot or cold, really a salad with a warm vinaigrette made right in the pan.
Vegan vinegar veggies
Serves 6 as a side dish. You can make this a day ahead and let it mellow in the refrigerator.
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
2 ribs celery, sliced on an angle
1 large clove garlic, sliced
1 large zucchini, sliced on an angle
1 yellow squash, sliced on an angle
1 green pepper, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
1 yellow pepper, sliced
10 mushrooms, sliced
1/2 can small pitted black olives
1 Tbsp fresh chopped thyme or oregano
Black pepper to taste
Rice vinegar, 1/4 cup or more
A drop or two of agave nectar or honey (optional)
In a large nonstick frying pan, heat the olive oil. Add onion and saute briefly. Add garlic, celery, zucchini and peppers, and continue to saute for 2-3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, and cook until all vegetables are just tender.
You might want to add more rice vinegar to taste — basically, you're making a cooked vinaigrette dressing.
Serve at room temperature, or warm, or cold.
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
7-layer dip, from Cooking On the Side
Olive cheese bread, from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
Tomato, olive and fresh mozzarella salad with basil vinaigrette, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Egg white omelet with fresh herbs, black olives, and sun-dried tomatoes, from The Hungry Mouse
Angel hair with red onion and black olives, from Eat at Home
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