It was a warm day. I could feel the sun burning quite strongly on my legs. My skin had not gotten that used to the Spanish sun yet after just a few days. A reminder to be careful and put on enough sunscreen maybe, but a reminder that made me feel very happy. I was glad to be back in Spain with my parents, after all those months.
My parents had taken me for my birthday to a small village in the province of Murcia. We had stayed a night in a lovely cortijo, a rural Spanish house. We had the entire house to ourselves, including the outside seating area, overgrown with vines. From there we went for a hike in an area that my parents had accidentally discovered before and wanted to explore. We parked close to the cortijo and went on a hike in the sun. I have seen quite a lot of this area of Spain by now, and the entire region is beautiful. There are often those rolling hills, going on for as far as the eye can see, with olive and almond trees. Or proper mountains, of which the tops are covered in snow. But this area was truly different. The hike we did went through the hills, leading to a large reservoir. Those hills gave the feeling of a canyon, going up and down sharply. Even more impressive were the colours: the contrast between the muted colours of the earth and the bright turquoise water of the reservoir. After each hill or turn in the road the view was different, and impressive every time again. It was not the easiest hike either, going up and down steeply in the hot weather. But worth it the full 100 percent. Once we arrived at the reservoir, it was absolutely time for a picnic, and for me for a quick swim in the blue water. The best way to cool down after a hike, if you ask me!
Hiking the way back, I could not stop myself from turning around all the time. Just to look back at the canyon-like hills and the bright colour of the water. I was a bit sad to have to leave this amazing area again. For me it was definitely one of the best ways to celebrate my birthday.
When we arrived back home, it was time for one of the other things I love doing when staying with my parents: having a swim in their pool and after this enjoying aperitivo-time, the pre-dinner drink and bites. Well deserved of course, after such a hike. In any case it is one of the rituals of our daily live when I am staying there. Whether I have been working from home, or we have been exploring something new or just been doing things in the house, we usually have a drink with some small bites before cooking. Often simply some nuts or Spanish ham, but it can also be something more complicated.
The stuffed and deep-fried olives here are a perfect pre-dinner snack and something I had read about quite often. So, I was curious and decided to do my own version.
Deep fried olives
Of course, you can always deep fry olives. But it is nice to stuff them with something delicious beforehand. I like to have both a vegetarian recipe and one with meat, in this case mortadella.
The yoghurt sauce makes for a spicy kick and at the same time lightens up the fried snacks.
- 24 large green olives without stone
For the fillings:
- Feta cheese – 50 grams
- Sundried tomatoes – around 5
- Smoked paprika powder – 1 teaspoon
- Mortadella – 4 slices
- Parmesan cheese – 20 grams
- Sprig of rosemary
- 1 clove of garlic
For the yoghurt sauce:
- Yoghurt – 4 tablespoons
- Lemon – for the zest
- Chillipowder – half a teaspoon
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Basil – small bunch
- Flour – around 60 grams
- 1 egg
- Breadcrumbs – around 80 grams
- Salt and black pepper
- Oil for frying – for example sunflower oil
For the yoghurt sauce, place the yoghurt in a small bowl and add the zest of one lemon. Add a small pinch of salt, the chillipowder, and about half a tablespoon of olive oil. Finely chop the basil and mix through as well. Most importantly, make sure to taste to see if any additional seasoning is needed.
Afterwards, start on the fillings. For the vegetarian filling, finely chop the sundried tomatoes. Mix those with the feta and the smoked paprika powder. Use a fork or your hands to break up the mixture and mix it well. Taste if any seasoning is needed, but be aware that feta is usually already quite salty.
For the other filling, finely slice the mortadella. Grate the Parmesan cheese and chop the rosemary and garlic. Mix well together.
Now, it is time to stuff the olives. Rinse them well in some cold water. Carefully slice an olive open on the long side, and stuff the cavity where the stone used to be with one of the two fillings. Repeat this for all olives.
To prepare for breading the olives, prepare one plate with flour and one with the breadcrumbs. Whisk the egg in a small bowl with some salt and black pepper. Take an olive and roll it through the flour, then through the egg and finally through the breadcrumbs until covered well. Repeat this with all stuffed olives.
Finally, to fry them, heat around 2cm of oil in a small pot over a medium hot fire. Put a small piece of bread in the oil: once this turns golden brown the oil is hot enough for frying. Carefully add as many olives as fit into the pot in one layer. Fry until golden brown on all sides, around 5 minutes. Then take the olives out of the pot and place on some kitchen paper to remove the excess oil.
Serve hot and crispy with the yoghurt sauce and a nice drink.