Herb “Jam” from Chef Russell Moore
A perfect, simple recipe for enjoying olive oil: Herb Jam
This Moroccan recipe appeared first in Paula Wolfert’s book “The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen.” More recently chef Russell Moore enhanced it by exploring other greens and herbs. Eventually, his own versions of the herb jam became favorites at his celebrated farm to table restaurant Camino, in the Lake Merritt district of Oakland, California.
Russ, for many years the sous chef at legendary Chez Panisse in Berkeley who generously opens his place for internships and for other chefs to cook with him, uses Pacific Sun Farms olive oils on a regular basis. I know firsthand that he’s been also a great teacher for younger chefs. In fact, some of them, now in other excellent restaurants or new places they’ve opened themselves, are also our clients and their work carries the spirit they learned at Camino.
I suggested to Russ to try the recipe with our Proprietor’s Select and with another Italian olive oil of a friend of mine with similar characteristics. He kindly accepted the suggestion and liked the results in both cases: “Given the fresh leafy perfumes of these fine olive oils, I found them ideal for this recipe.”
Here goes the recipe, which you can also find in the wonderful book of the restaurant, “This is Camino,” penned by Russ and Alison Hopelain, the co-owner and Russ’s wife:
- 1½ pounds various greens and herbs (they can be: spinach, beet tops, chard, kale, carrot tops, basil, dill, marjoram, parsley, cilantro, celery tops and scallions, and outer leaves of lettuce or similar greens).
- 6 large cloves garlic, unpeeled
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 small hot red chiles (dried) or a pinch of crushed red pepper
- 1½ tablespoons cumin seeds, toasted in a dry pan until fragrant, then ground
- ¼ cup roughly chopped pitted black olives, such as Kalamata, or oil-cured
- Pinch of pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)
- Lemon, for final seasoning
- Pita or flatbread, for serving
Put the greens and herbs and garlic cloves all together in a large steamer set over medium-high heat, and steam until tender, adding water as it evaporates. This could take 20 minutes or two hours, depending on the greens.
Set the garlic aside and chop up the herbs and greens very fine.
Tear the chiles discarding the stems but keeping the seeds, and place them in a spice grinder. Pulse a few times to create a coarse powder.
Heat a pan over medium-high heat and a splash of olive oil, all the chopped greens, a pinch of salt, the cumin and the chile. This is done to develop a deep flavor by cooking the moisture out of the greens for 10 minutes. Stir the mix to avoid it sticking to the pan.
Turn the heat off but leave the mixture in the pan. Peel the garlic and add it to the mix along with the olives. Add salt to your taste.
The jam can be stored in the refrigerator for about 5 days.
Right before serving you can add a bit of squeeze lemon and drizzle with olive oil.
Russ suggests using a mix of sweeter greens (kale, spinach, chard leaves and stems, cauliflower leaves) with stronger greens (fennel tops, wild nettles, outer chicory leaves like radicchio, carrot tops). He discourages the use of rosemary and sage for this recipe. Plenty of other herbs can be used: mint, thyme, chives, scallions, oregano.
As he points, this is a great entry to a waste-free way of cooking, which was the starting point for so many world cuisines and ingenious recipes.
We’re truly honored to work with Russ and Alison and their wonderful team at Camino. Our olive oils and olives could not have a better, more natural destination than their kitchen and the marvels that come out of it.