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Sara Jenkins: Simple Mediterranean Cooking

For her new cookbook, Olives and Oranges, chef Sara Jenkins found inspiration in the taste memories of her childhood — things like tomatoes just off the vine, dressed with olive oil and sea salt, or fish prepared with a touch of lemon.

Jenkins, the daughter of a noted food-writer mother and a foreign-correspondent father, grew up traveling across Italy, Spain, France, Lebanon and Cyprus.

Of traveling — and eating — around the Mediterranean, Jenkins remembers "an abundance of very fresh food, uncomplicated cooking – and lots of olive oil," she told Renee Montagne.

Another vestige of those days is a deep love for figs, which can be so good fresh, Jenkins says, that it's hard for her to buy them in a store. "To me, nothing tastes so amazing as a fresh fig on a tree," she says.

Asked about an image that might sum up her new cookbook, Jenkins describes driving along the Mediterranean coast during summer, through dry air that is both salty and perfumed with the scent of wild herbs.

"That just makes me feel like I need to give it all up and move back there, every time I think about it," Jenkins says.

As a chef, Jenkins has fashioned her cooking style around recollections from her childhood abroad. Below, she shares some of the recipes from Olives and Oranges:

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