Olive Powder

Olive powder, recipe from the Eleven Madison Park cookbook.

There are a few small preparations in the Eleven Madison Park cookbook that use a microwave to desiccate ingredients. The simplest of these is the “Olive Powder” in the Couscous Salad.

In a nutshell: line a microwave-safe plate with plastic wrap, finely chop some pitted black olives, spread them over the plastic and microwave until dry and crispy. The recipe in the book says two minutes is enough. Even for the small amount I did it took closer to four. Maybe mine weren’t chopped as fine as theirs.

The result is an attractive, jet-black olive crumble that tastes like, well… olives.

While this olive powder is okay, it’s interesting to think of this as a generalized technique for desiccating. Caper crumble? Anchovy powder? Crispy sauerkraut? Could you use this technique with sliced dill pickles, then pulverize them and dust potato chips with your pickle powder?

My gut reaction is that it is a waste to take a perfectly good olive, chop it up and microwave it. However this technique would be good for trim or waste products. For instance I worked in a kitchen where we sliced pickles lengthwise on a mandolin to be put into sandwiches. Why we didn’t just buy pre-sliced pickles I don’t know. The first and last slices that had intact cucumber skin (kind of like the heels of a loaf of bread) were set aside to be processed for relish or Russian dressing or the like. This microwave technique might be an interesting way to use your “pickle heels”.

The EMP book also contains a novel technique for crisping squash blossoms in the microwave that I hope to try this summer.