Saturday, April 10, 2010

Grow an Olive Tree

I couldn't sleep very well early this morning, so I got up very early and started doing some research on the Internet.

I went to the Houston Chronicle website and found all kinds a great information about herbs and gardening in general under their Houston Grows section. Two articles that I found of interest were A new Texas oil rush and Making the most of that green-gold goodness, both of which talk about growing olives Olea europaea L. in Texas.

If you aren't already growing at least one olive tree here in Texas, then you need to think about doing so. I found this article Growing Olives in Texas Gardens by George Ray McEachern and Larry A. Stein, Extension Horticulturists, Texas A & M University with lots of good information on olive growing. They state the following important information about olives:

"The olive should not be confused with the Russian-olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) or the Anacahuita (Cordia boissieri), which is sometimes called the Texas or Mexican Olive. Both of these plants belong to different botanical families. The olive, however, is related to the Desert Olive (Forestiera sp.) and the American Wild-Olive (Osmanthus sp.). The fruits of these two "olives" are not edible."

Here is information about the Texas Olive Oil Council.

I planted an olive tree in my yard about two years ago, and it is doing great, even with our freezes this past winter. So give it a try. I think it is fun to grow things in my yard that "aren't suppose to grow here."

Here are a couple of olive and olive oil recipes for you to try!


4 slices French bread, sliced ½ inch thick
2 tomatoes, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, either finely chopped or minced
2 tablespoons olive oil, EVOO
2 tablespoons fresh basil, can be either finely chopped or chiffonade
1 tablespoon fresh chives, either onion or garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh oregano finely chopped
Freshly ground pepper and kosher salt to taste
Parmesan cheese

Combine all ingredients except bread in a small bowl and chill.

Brush bread with olive oil on one side; grill oiled side down until golden brown; then turn and continue to grill oiled side of bread.

Place oiled side of bread down on a serving plate and top with the remaining ingredients. Top with Parmesan cheese. Can garnish with whole fresh basil leaves.

*Bruschetta[broo-SKEH-tah, broo-SHEH-tah]
From the Italian bruscare meaning "to roast over coals," this traditional garlic bread is made by rubbing slices of toasted bread with garlic cloves, then drizzling the bread with extra-virgin olive oil. The bread is salted and peppered, then heated and served warm.

Pulpeta (Cuban Meat Loaf)

3/4 lb. ground beef
1/4 lb. cooked ham (ground)
4 eggs
3 boiled eggs
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 3/4 cups cracker meal
20 olives w/ pimiento
2 tbsp olive oil

Mix the beef and ham together and add two beaten eggs, salt pepper, oregano, cumin, garlic and onion. Mix well, add enough cracker meal to make the meat hold its shape (3/4 a cup or so), and form the mixture into a large loaf.

Open the loaf by cutting it across. Place the three hard boiled eggs down the center and line the olives on both sides of them. Close the loaf tightly, roll the loaf in the other two beaten eggs and then the cracker meal three times until all the cracker meal has been used. In a large skillet, brown the loaf in the heated oil. Its suggested that you try to brown the ends of the loaf first.

After the loaf is browned, begin prepared the salsa (sauce). Pour the sauce over the loaf and simmer for about 45 minutes, turning it once or twice (or bake in an oven at 350 degrees). After the loaf is well done, remove from the heat and allow to cool before slicing.

To make the sauce for the meat loaf, combine:

1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp ground bay leaves
2 tbsp tomato sauce
1/2 cup white wine

Mix well
Serves 4-6

From Texas Monthly July 2000
Lapin aux Olives Vertes or Rabbit With Green Olives
“Franco File” recipe from CafĂ© Perrier, Houston

1 fresh rabbit (2 to 3 pounds) or chicken, cut into 7 or 8 pieces *Can use Chicken rather than Rabbit.
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon flour
2 1/2 cups dry white wine
4 tomatoes, peeled, cored, seeded, and chopped
2 bay leaves, preferably imported
3 tablespoons minced fresh herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, and parsley
1 generous cup pitted green olives, preferably imported

Season rabbit pieces liberally with salt and pepper. In a deep, nonreactive skillet (preferably not nonstick) large enough to hold rabbit pieces without crowding, heat oil over medium-high heat. When oil is hot but not smoking, add rabbit and cook until golden brown, 10 to 20 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add onions to fat and liquid in pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle on flour and cook, stirring, until liquid becomes a thick paste. Slowly stir in wine. Add rabbit and remaining ingredients. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until rabbit is cooked through, about 20 minutes. (This dish may be cooked longer, if desired, and may also be prepared ahead and reheated.) Rosemary potatoes make a nice accompaniment. One rabbit serves 2, one chicken serves 2 to 4.

*Can use Chicken rather than Rabbit.

Photos courtesy of Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard.

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