I cook a lot of simple meals. The type of meals California cooks occasionally get mocked for. You know the equation – a great ingredient sautéed with local olive oil and seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper. Repeat. For example, this time of year, (as we’ve discussed) I cook artichokes once or twice a week, and I put all my focus and attention into picking out the best artichokes and then preparing them beautifully. I rarely use more than a bit of oil in the pan (after blanching), salt and pepper, and a bit of lemon zest to finish. I like the artichoke flavor direct and unobstructed, their outside leaves crisped brown in the pan. I leave it at that, without other flavors getting in the way. Increasingly, I find myself thinking this is a missed opportunity. Flavor aside, I should make an effort to boost each preparation with a favorite blend of spices or seasonings for their powerful, and unique nutrients. Many of the phytonutrients in spices aren’t present in other foods, and people who live in cultures with a spice-rich cuisine have, in some cases (dramatically) lower rates of certain diseases. That’s a long way of saying, they’re powerful. Not only on the flavor front, but in promoting health and wellness in general. It’s easy to boost your food in this way, and I could be better about incorporating these accents into each meal – an oregano drizzle, a turmeric braise, the dry spices from this tea as a base for miso soup, etc. So, more than anything, this is a note to self – individual spices, spice blends, and pastes are important. Use them generously, and often. Exhibit one – this green olive paste. It’s a superfood tapenade of sorts – green olives, walnuts, and good olive oil boosted with anise, and a bit of the wheatgrass powder I sometimes add to drinks or dressings – crumbled nori would be a great substitute.

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I imagine a dollop of harissa paste in a black olive version of this would be welcome. Or this green version with a bit of green curry paste (minus the anise). I made this over the weekend, and have enjoyed it in an omelette, as the punctuation on avocado toast, spooned over farro risotto, and on these little soccas!

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from 101 Cookbooks http://feeds.101cookbooks.com/~r/101Cookbooks/~3/1qQDyd-LOt4/superfood-tapenade-recipe.html

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