If you could bite into a loaf of bread, with your eyes closed, smell the Mediterranean country side, with the scent of rosemary, taste the salty briny fruit of the olive tree, indulge in the hard crunchy crust of a bread, unlike you have ever tasted; wouldn’t youbake this scrumptious bread every single week of your life!
Olives are just the most amazing, ancient and symbolic fruit in the world. Add them to bread, the king of symbolism and life giving substance, and you have a single bite of history right there in your mouth; sure to give you goosebumps!
Homemade Bread, alone, is worth every second you put into making it. It fills the kitchen with the smell of love while it bakes, makes mealtime a cause to celebrate, and it has none of the additives or preservatives of store bought bread. Homemade bread will last a maximum of five days after baked, before it begins to dry out or get moldy.
So you tell me, how does a loaf of store bought bread last weeks on the shelf in the grocery store, plus more time hanging around in your home before it begins to get moldy? Exactly! Additives and preservatives. Those preservatives wreak havoc with the cellular health of your body. Make homemade bread! It is too easy not to make, and the results will give you so much to be proud of.
Mediterranean Diet, may not be something you are familiar with but without calling it a diet, it has been a way of eating in countries who have among the highest records of Centenarians (people living to be 100), in the world!
The Mediterranean food eaten in these regions, bread, olives, cheese, lots of fruit, also has the lowest number of issues with obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and clogged arteries. Why? Healthy fats! Olives and their oil, provide some of the best source of healthy fats, you can eat on a regular basis.
A Mediterranean diet includes some form of homemade bread daily, along with olives, cheese and fresh herbs. Hmmmm, eat bread everyday, don’t struggle with obesity or sugar related health issues? Count me in!
Mediterranean Black Olive and Rosemary Bread
Mediterranean Black Olive and Rosemary Bread, often served with Tzatziki, is a recipe I created for a very special reason. Having been a single mother of four children for nearly all of the children’s growing up years, a full time hairdresser and kookie mom that wanted all meals, homemade, was the first reason I created this recipe.
Black olives are a fruit loaded with vitamin E, and other powerful antioxidants. The healthy fats derived from the olive is a key component in healthy practices of the Mediterranean diet.
I made homemade bread every few days, as a special gesture to our family’s gathering at meal time. The desire to get as much nutrients from the food I served my children, began my experimentation with adding lots of healthy ingredients into the homemade bread.
I knew the kids would devour the bread quickly so why not put other healthy ingredients in the bread. Black Olives were the first ingredient I decided to add to my homemade bread recipe. The kids loved olives and I knew the olives were loaded with healthy contributors to their meal time.
While I had never visited the region of Syria where my mother’s family was from, I knew olive trees were in abundance there. I wanted to see olive tress for myself, and I wanted my children to develop a rooted connection to the Mediterranean regions that provided much of the foods they grew up eating.
So, one year we all went to Italy. They were each familiar with the symbolism of the olive branch, and so that, in and of itself, was something curious they chatted about with each other. The trees, as they grew row by row. looked almost silver, instead of green, until they began to burst with the fruit of the olive.
I felt almost transported back in time, when we got to see these trees, and taste the olives and olive oil right there where they grew and were prepared into the olives and oil we only get to see in a grocery store.
Rosemary, became the next ingredient I added to the olive bread, simply because of its intoxicating aroma. For some reason, rosemary scent always reminded me of holidays, when we would make special meals, often with lamb, or vegetables lightly cooked in olive oil, rosemary and lemon.
Rosemary, much to my surprise, is said to support cognitive stimulation. I swear it’s that intoxicating aroma! A huge handful of freshly chopped rosemary went into the olive bread recipe next.
So now my Mediterranean Black Olive and Rosemary Bread recipe was loaded with vitamin E, healthy fats, cognitive stimulation and tummy happy dinner time ingredients. I made several loaves, served it for dinner with a bowl of soup, and all the loaves disappeared!
Though I made a variety of different types of homemade bread weekly for my family, Mediterranean Black Olive and Rosemary Bread is my absolute favorite.
Cocktail & Tapas
Having a few friends over for quality time together has always been my preference to going to a restaurant. The cost is often double, what it costs to prepare food at home, and then there is that feeling of being rushed so the server can turn the table for the next customer.
Sure it is easier to sit, eat and leave, never having to shop, cook, serve and clean up, but the evenings when I prepare for cocktails and some tapas items to serve at home, have always been more memorable and appreciated.
My Mediterranean Black Olive and Rosemary Bread has been the bread I make for an evening gathering at my home, more times than not. Since the bread is nearly a meal in itself, the tapas plates can be easy simple items you may already have in the fridge, or can buy at the market ready to slice and put on a plate.
The bread can be made a day in advance, leaving plenty time for the fast plates you will put out.
Just to give you an idea of how easy a tapas spread can be, once the olive and rosemary bread is already made, here is a quick cocktail time spread I put together with items to compliment the flavors of the olive and rosemary bread:
- Tzatziki – More black olives in a mix of cucumber, yogurt and mint. An easy healthy salad-type dish to serve.
- Caprese Bites on a stick – Another type of light salad of tomatoes, cheese and spinach, but on a stick.
- Sweet Potato Fries, baked in a really hot oven, make for something salty to nibble on and can sit out for several hours.
- Variety of Smoked Fish beautifully displayed on a bed of lettuce with colorful carrot shavings. The fish slices are easy to put on top of the olive rosemary bread and taste delicious together.
- Cheeses, Pates, easy items that need very little time to have them out for a beautiful spread so you can just enjoy your company.
- Pomegranate Martini – with pomegranate vodka, the sweetness of cranberry juice and the zing of lime makes for a beautiful holiday sip.
- Grated Cheese
- Black Olives
- Olive oil
- Coarse salt
- Cutting board
- Sharp knife
- Mixing bowl
- Basting brush
- Wooden spoon
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
- Cookie sheet or 2 loaf pans
- Parchment paper
- Kitchen towel – to cover bread while rising
Mediterranean Black Olive and Rosemary Bread
Yeast – 2 teaspoons
Sugar – 2 teaspoons
Water – 1 1/2 cups, room temperature
Salt – 1 tablespoon
Pepper – 1/2 teaspoon coarse grind
Rosemary – 2 tablespoons freshly chopped
Grated cheese – 1/2 cup
Olives – 1 cup, chopped
Olive oil – 1/4 cup
Flour – 4 – 5 cups, more as needed
Egg wash – 1 egg and 1 tablespoon water mixed
Coarse salt – to sprinkle on top
- Place the yeast, sugar and water in a bowl and let sit for 5 minutes to form a foam.
- Add salt, pepper, rosemary, cheese, olives and olive oil. Mix. Slowly blend in flour, adding a little at a time until it becomes too difficult to stir with a spoon. Time to get a little messy. Sprinkle flour on top of the dough and use your hand to press the flour into the dough. Turn the dough over and sprinkle more flour, press and turn. Continue like this until the dough is no longer sticky.
- Oil a clean blow, and place the dough in the bowl, cover and let rise in a warm (not hot), spot until double in size; an hour or two.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Sprinkle a little flour on top of the risen dough, punch it down. Sprinkle a little flour enough to shape the dough into one large log or 2 medium logs. Place on a baking sheet and brush with egg wash. Sprinkle course salt on top pop into the hot oven.
- Bake for 18 – 20 minutes or until top is golden.