Cracked Green Olive and Walnut Salad

Paula Wolfert is one of our favorite mentors and while it was difficult choosing just one of her recipes, we find this to be such a simple classic that it is well worth highlighting.

This is an exceptionally delicious speciality of Gaziantep, in southern Turkey, which includes cracked green olives, walnuts, parsley and scallions, all chopped by hand and blended with pomegranate seeds into a rich dense relish - a perfect accompaniment to a simple brochette of grilled meat or a slice of melon.

The combination of pomegranate molasses and lemon juice gives this salad a sweet and sour flavor that balances the richness of the olives and the walnuts.

Prepare the salad one or two days in advance for the best flavor.

Serves 5-6

8 oz cracked green olives, drained
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup shelled walnuts, finely chopped by hand
2 scallions, minced
1/4 cup chopped parsely
1/8 tsp Turkish Maras or Urfa pepper
2 tsp pomegranate molasses
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt to taste
frsh and finely ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup fresh or defrosted pomegranate seeds

To pit the olives: Place them in a single layer on a double thickness of kitchen toweling. Hit each olive with a mallet or heavy pestle and remove the pit. Roughly chop the olives, to make about 1 cup.

Combine the olives with all the other ingredients in a mixing bowl; blend well. Cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate overnight, and return to room temperature before serving. Makes about 1 3/4 cups.

©Paula Wolfort, 1994 The cooking of Eastern Mediterranean,