Grape & Olive Compote – Da Vinci Style

This recipe has been a favourite in our family since my mom read the book Signora da Vinci by Robin Maxwell. Through many years of experimenting, we have refined the recipe to create the winning formula! It’s a very forgiving recipe, as you don’t really need to measure anything; it’s more about the ratios. You can prepare this recipe in an oven or on the fire, as we prefer it.

The Theatre Of Fire


Serves: 6 -8 servings (6 – 8 slices of bread topped with compote)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 40 minutes

Dedicated Tools: Cast Iron Dish (preferred) or any thick iron pan

The end result!


Red or black seedless grapes | 400 grams

Pitted Kalamata olives | 200 grams

Olive oil | 30-50ml

Balsamic vinegar | 30-50ml

Fresh thyme or rosemary

Soft goats milk cheese | 100g log

Optional: Once you have mastered the ‘traditional’ method you can play around with other ingredients such as garlic or chili


  1. Make a slit in every grape. This helps the juices run out when cooked. (Some people cut the grapes in half, but we find it gets too mushy.)
  2. Place your grapes and pitted olives in the cast iron pan/dish.
  3. Sprinkle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar over them and stir so that everything gets a light coating. Add a few sprigs of thyme or rosemary.
  4. Place the dish/pan on low heat. The olive oil and balsamic must begin to simmer very slowly. You will need to stir about 4 times. This process should go on until the grapes have collapsed and the balsamic has reduced. Do not stir once grapes have collapsed as it will get very mushy.
  5. Remove from the heath. Cut goats milk cheese wheels and place on top of the compote. The cheese should warm slightly, but not fully melt. DO NOT stir.
  6. Serve on nice French loaf or ciabatta bread, giving each bread slice enough grapes and olives with a wheel of goats milk cheese. Drizzle with the juices remaining in the pan.
Step 1 – 3 – Here we used a De Buyer pan, mixed the olives and grapes and added the olive oil and balsamic. Ready for the fire! Observe the ratio – roughly 2 grapes for every olive.
Step 4 – Here we’ve got the pan heated, and then let it simmer at low heat until the grapes collapse and the balsamic gets thick.
Step 4 – Simmering – here we used a cast iron dish. Note how the grapes slowly lose their colour.
Step 5 – place goats milk cheese wheels on top of olives and grapes. Do not let it melt too much.
Step 6 – warm up and slice your bread, ready to top with the compote.
Step 6 – serve one cheese wheel per serving. It is messy but delicious! Pour over any leftover sauce. ENJOY!

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