Sun-dried tomatoes and olives remind me of my childhood. It doesn’t matter where I travel and live, I get regular cravings for these antipasto items: sott’olio (under oil) or sott’aceto (under vinegar).
Olives, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, aubergines, bell peppers and courgettes sott’olio were staple snack foods in our home growing up.
When I lived in Japan, these were the foods that I craved the most and simply couldn’t find at the time. Now several years later I live in China, so I can luckily get hold of the standard varieties.
I do prefer to buy my sun-dried tomatoes dried and dress them myself because I prefer to use a high-quality extra-virgin olive oil. Many of the well-known brands of sun-dried tomatoes are soaked in the less nutritious and less flavoursome sunflower oil.
You can see pictured below how I would make my own dressing. All you need to do is soak the sun-dried tomatoes in tepid water for at least 2 hours (preferably longer though), squeeze out all the water, pat them dry with kitchen paper and add them to a dressing of your choice. I personally like a simple dressing of cloves, fresh rosemary sprigs, fresh chillies, lemon peel and garlic cloves. But by all means experiment away.
And as for the tapenade, you could use already dressed sun-dried tomatoes as pictured above and simply blend until smooth if you have them. If not, follow the recipe below.
As long as the tapenade is stored well-sealed in the refrigerator, it should keep for at least one week. You could cover the tapenade with extra drizzles of extra-virgin olive oil to preserve it for longer if you wish. I personally like my tapenade on rye toast or for dipping my Burdock Root Chips in. It makes a great vegan butter or spread to moisten dry food textures.
Sun-dried tomatoes, 100g
Extra-virgin olive oil, 6-8 tbsp
Garlic cloves, 5-6
Oregano, dried, 1 tbsp
Red chilli flakes, a pinch
Sea salt, to taste
Ground mixed peppercorns, to taste
1. Pre-soak the sun-dried tomatoes overnight or for at least two hours (they should feel soft when they are ready).
2. Squeeze out all the water and set aside to use for a dressing if like me you don’t like waste.
3. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and all other ingredients to a blender and blend the mixture until smooth.
4. Pour out into a well-sealed container and store in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Add different ground herbs for added flavour. Add a handful of salted caper berries for a different flavour. You could also add grated lemon or orange zest too.