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Ropa Vieja with Arepas Moving from Florida to Texas opens up a whole new world of barbeque and tex-mex, but we do miss the wonderful Cuban food from back at school. This classic dish of slow braised beef over masa arepas satisfies that craving and has become a regular on our recipe rotation. Cooking spray
2 (1-pound) flank steaks, trimmed or other cut of roast beef
3 cups thinly vertically sliced onion
2 cups red bell pepper strips (about 2 peppers)
2 cups green bell pepper strips (about 2 peppers)
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 tablespoons thinly sliced pitted green olives
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons sherry vinegar
3 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add 1 steak to pan; cook 2 1/2 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove steak from pan. Repeat procedure with cooking spray and remaining steak.

Reduce heat to medium. Add onion, bell peppers, and garlic to pan; cook 7 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in olives and next 5 ingredients (through black pepper); cook 30 seconds or until fragrant. Stir in vinegar, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; cook for 2 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Stir in broth, tomato paste, and bay leaves. Add steaks; bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat, and cook 1 1/2 hours or until steaks are very tender. Discard bay leaves.

Remove steaks from pan; shred with two forks. Stir shredded beef and cilantro into pan.

original recipe

Arepas

1 1/4 cup white or yellow arepa flour (masarepa)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups hot water
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, for frying

Stir salt into arepa flour. Add hot water and mix well with a wooden spoon. Stir in the melted butter. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let rest 15 minutes.Separate dough into four pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball.
Place each ball in between 2 sheets of plastic wrap or two ziplock bags and flatten gently with the bottom of a pot. Arepas should be about 4 inches in diameter and almost an ¾ inch thick. Use your fingers to smooth out any cracks along the edges.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in cast iron skillet on medium heat.
Cook arepas about 5 minutes on each side until a slightly brown crust forms. They should look like an english muffin. If they are browning too fast, lower the heat. Add more butter or oil for subsequent batches as needed.
Place arepas on a cookie sheet and heat for 10 minutes in the oven to finish cooking.


olivepasta_sm.jpgPenne pasta with rich Italian flavors of kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic. Fresh herbs and lemon juice brighten the flavors, and crispy garlic breadcrumbs add crunch and flavor. Easy roasted chickpeas add protein for a full one dish meal.

2 T olive oil
6 medium garlic cloves, minced (~2T)
1 T minced anchovy fillets (4-6 fillets)
1 T tomato paste
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 c. drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinse, patted dry, and cut into thin strips
1 c. pitted kalamata olives, rinsed and coarsely chopped
2 lg. slices sandwich bread, torn into quarters
1 3/4 tsp. salt
1 lb. pasta (we used penne)
1/2-1 c. grated Parmesan cheese
3 T chopped fresh parsley leaves (optional)
1/2 c. fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
pepper
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Optional: Oven Roasted Chickpeas
1 15 ounce can organic chickpeas

1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon chunky sea salt

Heat the oven 400°F. Pour the chickpeas into a colander and drain and rinse very well under running water. Pat dry.

Toss the chickpeas with the olive oil and spread out on a large cookie sheet. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until brown and crispy. Turn and stir every ten minutes so they don't burn. Take out and toss to taste with salt and spices.


Combine 1 T olive oil, 1 T garlic, anchovies, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, sun-dried tomatoes, and olives in medium bowl. Set aside.

Pulse bread in food processor until coarsely ground, about 16 1-second pulses. Heat remaining tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add bread crumbs and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in remaining tablespoon garlic and 1/4 tsp. salt. Cook and stir until garlic is fragrant and bread crumbs are dark golden brown, 1-2 minutes longer. Transfer to plate to cool. Wipe out skillet with paper towels.

Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of water to boil over high heat. Add rigatoni and remaining 1 1/2 tsp. salt. While pasta is cooking, return now-empty skillet to medium heat and add olive mixture. Cook until olive mixture is aromatic and oil has turned rusty red, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove 3/4 c. pasta cooking water from pot and add to skillet. Bring to simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat while pasta finishes cooking. When pasta is just shy of al dente, drain pasta, reserving 1/2 c. cooking water. Transfer back to pot, add olive mixture and toss over medium heat until pasta absorbs most of liquid, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1/2 c. Parmesan. Remove pot from heat and stir in parsley and basil, adjust seasoning with pepper. Sprinkle with bread crumbs, serve with lemon wedges and extra cheese.

From Cooks Illustrated, July & August 2008 
Hearty Cajun flavored rice dish, with turkey kielbasa, dark meat chicken, olives, peas, green peppers, and onion.

 2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
8 ounces turkey kielbasa, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups long-grain parboiled rice (such as Uncle Ben's)
2 teaspoons olive oil
8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup frozen green peas
1/4 cup sliced pitted stuffed manzanilla (or green) olives
1 tablespoon bottled minced garlic
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp oregano
1 tsp Cajun seasoning

Combine the first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Stir in rice. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand for 5 minutes.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add chicken pieces; cook 2 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Add onion and bell pepper; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Stir in peas, sliced olives, and garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add rice mixture; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated, stirring constantly.

4 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)
Calories: 428 (24% from fat)
Fat: 11.5g (sat 2.6g,mono 5.4g,poly 2.4g)
Original recipe

Sauteed tofu gets more of a fish style preparation with fresh, tangy Mediterranean flavors: tomatoes, green olives, basil, oregano, bay, and marjoram. Don't skip the pickle juice, it sounds weird, but adds a vinegary tang that makes the whole dish work.

1 14oz package of extra firm tofu.
1 lime, juiced
2 teaspoons butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
4 large tomatoes, blanched, peeled and chopped (or a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes)
2 tablespoons liquid from a jar of sweet pickles
10 fresh basil leaves, chiffonaded
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 green olives, pitted
Slice the tofu into four slabs and pat dry. Lay them on a plate and cover with the lime juice.
Heat the oil in a pan and add the onions. Saute for 5 minutes on medium-low.
Add the garlic and saute for 3 minutes more.
Add the tomatoes, turn the heat up a little and saute for 15 minutes, stirring often
Add the pickle juice, herbs, salt, and olives, saute for another 10 minutes or until most of the liquid is cooked off.
Remove the bay leaf.
In another pan, melt the butter on medium to medium high heat.
Add the tofu and fry for 3 minutes on each side.
Remove from pan and top with the Veracruz sauce.

Original recipe
This tangy caponata forms a kind of vegetarian sloppy joe, best topped with fresh mozzarella and basil.

1-2 Tb olive oil
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into small cubes (you should have about 4 cups of cubed eggplant)
1/2 of a green bell pepper, diced
1 small onion (or 1/2 of a large one), diced
4 ounces mushrooms (about 5 medium), chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup pitted, black olives, chopped
1 6-ounce can of tomato paste
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon oregano
salt and pepper
baguette or ciabatta bread
fresh mozzarella (2 thick slices per sandwich)
fresh basil leaves (optional)

Heat oil over medium heat and add eggplant, bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes, until vegetables are soft.

Add the olives, tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, and oregano. Season again with salt and pepper. Lower heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 30 minutes. Stir a few times during cooking, and add a tablespoon or two of water (or olive brine) if the mixture is too thick and sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Allow caponata to cool. Spoon on bread, top with mozzarella and basil, and serve. Or, serve warm as a dip.

Original recipe
Salty, lemony, with artichokes and olives in a white wine sauce

2 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. grated lemon peel
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 lbs. boneless/skinless chicken breasts
4 tsp. olive oil
1 large onion (chopped)
2 garlic cloves (minced)
1 can artichoke hearts (drained & quartered)
1 C. white wine
1/2 C. green pimento-stuffed olives (rinsed, drained & roughly chopped)
Cut chicken breasts into 1 inch wide strips. Combine first 4 ingredients and rub over chicken. Brown chicken in half of the olive oil and set aside. Saute onion and garlic in remaining oil until brown. Stir in artichoke and remaining ingredients. Simmer on med-low for 30 minutes.

Derived from Healthy Cooking
Fresh tasting salsa built on the backbone of jarred Pace. Chopped black olives add richness, but you'd never guess they're in there.

2-3 C. chopped plum tomatoes (about 6)
1 small jar medium pace picante
1 small jar mild pace picante
1/2 small can chopped black olives
1 can green chilies
2 T. olive oil
1/2 T. white vinegar
1/4 C. green onions (chopped)
1 T. fresh cilantro (minced)
1-2 Jalapenos (finely chopped)
Mix ingredients together. Vary the amount of Jalapenos used to desired "heat" level (I usually use at least a half of one).

From: the Sutton family
chicken_pasta_salad_sm.jpgFinally, a pasta salad I like! The bright citrus dressing and red grapes are balanced by the addition of a few toasted walnuts & chopped green onions.

3  cups  uncooked farfalle (bow tie pasta)  or rigatoni (about 8 ounces)
1/3  cup  fresh orange juice (~1 orange)
1/4  cup  fresh lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
2  tablespoons  extravirgin olive oil
1  tablespoon  stone-ground mustard
2  teaspoons  sugar
1 1/4  teaspoons  salt
1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
2 tbs  white wine vinegar
2  cups  shredded cooked chicken breast (about 2 breasts)
1 1/2  cups  seedless red grapes, halved
1  cup  thin diagonally cut celery
1/4 c. sliced green onions
1/3  cup  coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
2  tablespoons  chopped fresh parsley
optional: lettuce or arugula to serve it on

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain. Cool completely.

Combine orange juice and the next 7 ingredients (orange juice through rice vinegar) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk to combine. Add pasta, chicken, grapes, celery, green onion, walnuts, olives, and parsley; toss gently to combine.


Original recipe (Cooking Light)