Something different? Here’s an interesting looking starter (doesn’t taste too bad either).


With fresh basil leaves on the side dressed with a simple balsamic/Dijon dressing.

Steamed artichoke with roasted goat cheese, sun-dried tomato tappenade and black olive foam:

So, this is a bunch of different elements that are great alone, but combined just  come together really well and explode with flavour. The underlying theme here is lightness and freshness, almost all the elements on the dish are uncooked. There’s nothing too fancy in terms of technique, but I can guarantee you will get great feedback for this dish. It certainly can’t be served as anything but an appetizer, but a well sized on at that.

Ingredients (to serve 4)

For the tomato tappenade:

This is essentially the pesto rosso but without the almonds and garlic (we don’t want any one flavor to overpower the rest)

5 Sun dried tomatoes

10 pitted kalamata olives

1/4 cup olive oil (adjust oil to attain desired consistency)

1/2 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp finely chopped basil leaves

1 tsp finely chopped rosemary leaves

What you basically need to do here is chop everything well with a sharp knife, to and stir together in a mixing bowl. Unlike the pesto paste, leaving it with a bit of texture works better here. I’m still undecided whether this needs half a clove of garlic to give it kick or not. Season with salt and pepper.

For the olive foam:

About 30 pitted black olives (not kalamata as they’re too salty and will overpower the balance of the dish, just the regular pizza olive kind)

1/4 cup of olive oil (again used to adjust consistency)

6 large ripped fresh basil leaves

1 egg white (I used the preserved dried kind so I don’t have to worry about refrigeration etc).

Salt to season.

Place everything in a blender and blend away, shouldn’t be necessary but use water/egg white power and oil to adjust to a nice foamy consistency, try the mixture with a spoon and you’ll be surprised at how airy it is.

The cheese:

4 1/2 inch discs of chevre cheese

Preheat your oven (with fan) to 180 degrees C. Place your cheese discs on a non stick oiled baking pan and put in oven until cheese is just browned and loose, about 12min.

For the artichokes:

4 artichoke hearts (you can use either fresh or frozen ones depending on availability, artichoke hearts freeze quite well)

Slice a garlic clove in half, and swipe it over the artichoke hearts to get some of that garlic loveliness into them, season with some salt and pepper. Place your artichokes in a bamboo steamer (or any other steamer for that matter) I prefer a bamboo steamer because you can infuse the boiling water with aromatics to impart some flavour on the veggies being steamed. B0il some water in a wok, slice a lemon into discs and place in the water, this will give the artichokes a nice citrus zestiness during steaming, I also added a few sprigs of fresh thyme here. Cook the artichokes until just tender, about 6-7mins over a fast boil. Your artichokes are now ready. You may want to slice just a bit off the bottom of the artichoke so that it can sit evenly in the plate.

Now assemble the dish, serving suggestion in picture above, sprinkle with some toasted pine nuts and drizzle with some olive oil. I served it with some fresh dressed basil leaves on the side.


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