I’ve been involved in a ‘top secret’ progressive dinner party called Kitchen Play. It’s been very hush-hush but now I’ve been freed to extend an invite to you. No need to bring a bottle of wine or chocolates to this dinner. It’s a virtual affair. A while back, our hostess, Casey from Tastestopping, invited six food bloggers to blindly sign up to create a course (yet assigned) spotlighting a secret ingredient from an unnamed sponsor. Intrigue. Suspense. “I’m in!”, I said. You know I love challenges.
Fast forward a bit and I was finally informed that my course was ‘salad’ and that the secret ingredient was any variety of Lindsay Olives. You might think…slam dunk. But, no, it was quite the opposite. They didn’t want marinated olives or any form of tappenade. And they certainly didn’t want lettuce, tomatoes and a few chopped olives either!
Being figuratively blindfolded, I couldn’t pair my salad course with the entrée that followed. I didn’t know what it was. As I write this, I still don’t know who my tablemates are and what they’re bringing to the party.
I’m calling this salad Squash Putanesca Cruda because the raw ingredients embrace the flavors of a putanesca pasta sauce. It’s a fresh, healthy and colorful salad with layers of flavor that should compliment whatever the course before and after may be.
To cook, microwave whole for about 10 minutes. Or halve and place face down in water in oven for about an hour. Put aside. Note: If you’ve got the muscle to halve it raw, it’s much easier to remove the seeds before cooking. Reserve a few seeds and toast separately for garnish.
Ingredients for Topping (prepare this step and let sit while flavors meld)
8 sicilian olives, sliced
2 tbl sliced black olives with red jalapenos
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 heaping tbl capers
handful of basil, chopped
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
dried seasonings: coarse salt, red pepper flakes, rosemary, fennel seed, oregano
Blend (emulsify) 2-4 anchovy fillets, 1 clove of garlic, evoo, juice of 1-2 lemons and lemon zest.
Ricotta Foam (optional)
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta
spoonful of pesto (blended fresh basil, nuts, garlic, parmesan, evoo, s+p)
Plating and Finishing Touch
Plate a few forkfuls of squash, drizzle ricotta foam, add olive/tomato topping, toasted seeds and dressing. Delicious! I’m look forward to making this again.
Enter a Contest. You can recreate one of the six recipes from the Lindsay Olives Progressive Party for a chance to win $100. Contest takes place at Kitchen Play and ends November 30, 2010. Interested bloggers can enter each course, up to six entries. Full contest rules are available on Kitchen Play.
[Disclosure: Lindsay Olives sent me a carton of olives to experiment with and I will be receiving a small stipend for developing this recipe.]