Thursday, August 5, 2010

August is...

An email advertisement from has recently alerted me that August is apparently National Olive Month. As it happens I have half a jar of Kalamata olives sitting in my fridge, awaiting their grand purpose (I used the other half in a delicious hearty Mediterranean vegetable pasta sauce I made a while back, I am hoping to wait for more hearty-pasta type weather before posting that one; who wants "hearty" when the humidity is at 75%?) and so I decided- why not observe national olive month like any patriotic American should?

As I thought about national olive month, I started to wonder what other grand and important holidays take place in the month of August that most of us have never heard of. A quick search through the interwebs informs me that August is also National Water Quality Month, Panini Month, Catfish Month, and Immunization Awareness Month. So in short, be sure this month to make the following recipe for an olive panino (yes, apparently the singular for panini, please correct me if I'm wrong), make sure to filter your water, perhaps go catfishing, and of course get up to date with your vaccines!

Some individual holidays that take place in August which may be worth noting include "Kiss and make up day" (August 25) "wiggle your toes day" (August 6th), "bad poetry day" (August 18) and "sneak some zucchini onto your neighbor's porch day" (August 8th). I plan to observe as many of these important holidays as I can, though I may need to bend some rules on "sneak some zucchini onto your neighbor's porch" day, as I live in an apartment building and my neighbors mostly do not have porches. That being said, to all my friends in the neighborhood: don't be surprised when a zucchini appears unexpectedly on August 8th on your porch/stoop/hallway/desk etc... Also, might as well go ahead and start bracing yourself for the bad poetry bound to be created (and perhaps read in public?) by yours truly on the 18th.

Summer Vegetable Panini with Homemade Olive Tapenade
Ingredients:  (for one sandwich)
2 slices of your favorite hearty sandwich bread (I used Trader Joe's San Francisco multigrain sourdough)
1 to 2 tablespoons olive tapanade (recipe to follow)
2 thick slices of eggplant
2 flat slices of red or yellow bell pepper (one quarter of pepper each, seeds, ribs, and core removed)
1 ounce fresh soft goat cheese
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

note: There are tons of fun variations you could do here. The possibilities are endless, really. I will probably be eating panini with eggplant and olive tapenade all week, i have enough of the basic ingredients. Variations I plan to try include eggplant, olive, argula and grape tomatoes, and olive, eggplant and mozzarella. Have an idea for a combination that sounds good with these flavors? Tell me in the comments!

Homemade Olive Tapenade:
2.5 ounces pitted black kalamata olives
1 teaspoon capers
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

To make the tapenade: combine all ingredients in a food processor (or in a small sturdy bowl if you plan to use a hand blender) pulse until ingredients form a thick paste.

To make the panini:
Grill or roast the eggplant and bell pepper slices. Use the olive oil to lightly coat the vegetables before cooking. I did not have access to a grill, so I cooked them over high heat on a grill pan.

Spread the two slices of bread with first a thin layer of goat cheese and then a thin layer of tapenade. layer the eggplant and red pepper onto one slice and top to construct the sandwich. cook on the grill, in a panini press, or like I did on the grill pan weighted with an iron grill press for a few minutes until the bread is browned.

Happy August Everyone! How will you celebrate?

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