It doesn’t take long after coming home from vacation for the steady stream of daily to-do’s to wipe out my holiday induced calm. A couple of late nights at work, a family event or two, an overgrown lawn, and I’ve almost forgotten that I ever went to Greece. Although it’s only been a few weeks, those lazy days on the Aegean sea seem like ages ago. If it weren’t for all of those lovely photos, I’d wonder if we even saw the Acropolis, or explored the mountains of Crete.
Does this happen to you? Does your habitual stress erase your vacation happiness?
In an effort to bring back those calm, sunny holiday hours, Jeff and I have been gravitating towards the food and drink of our vacation. A tiny cup of Greek coffee in the afternoon, a few honeyed pistachios after dinner. And most of all, this flavorful olive paste. At almost every meal in Greece, we were served a big basket of country bread, a little dish of pungent olive oil, and a generous dollop of intense olive paste. Even Jeff, a proclaimed olive hater, would slather this olive paste over crusty pieces of semolina bread. Here at home, we’ve been devouring this olive paste as a snack, spread on sandwiches, tossed with grilled vegetables and drizzled over baked chicken.
In Crete, this olive paste is made with tiny black olives grown locally and used to produce some of the world’s best olive oil. Here at home, I’ve been using kalamata olives, which give the olive paste a slightly creamier texture, but all in all produce a reasonably close copy of the Cretan staple. If you’re so inclined, it might be fun to experiment with different types of olives in this recipe.
Greek Olive Paste
makes a scant 1/2 cup
1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and sliced
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
pinch of red pepper flakes
pinch of dried oregano
salt, to taste
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until mostly smooth, with a few small bits of olive remaining. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve with crusty bread or alongside grilled meats, on sandwiches, with a cheese plate, or tossed with fresh pasta. The olive paste is best used right away, but will keep for a couple of days in the fridge in a covered container.