Recipe: Olives, As You’ve Seldom Seen Them

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A little creativity spices up this Mediterranean stalwart for tasty cocktail nibbles.

It’s often said that, as a general rule, most people don’t like change.
We like things the way we like them, especially if we have been liking them that way for a long time.

That’s especially true with food.

Some of us (me!) are thrilled when a skilled restaurant chef changes up a recipe in a fun and delicious new way.

Others (you know who you are!) cringe when their plate is brought to them and it’s obvious that the kitchen has “done something” to their traditional mashed potatoes. Or that there is a hunk of blue-cheesy butter melting over their perfectly good steak. (Me: “Yay!” Them: “Ugh.”)

Sometimes change is for the better; it can bring out new flavours and textures you never knew were hiding in there.

Playing with temperature is one way of changing things for the better. Some foods, especially those that you’ve probably always enjoyed cold, improve immensely when heated.

NADINE’S GREAT RECIPES

Hummus is one of those things. Usually you whiz it up in the food processor, store it in the fridge and pull it out when you need a quick appetizer. But instead of serving it cold, try scooping it into an earthenware dish, drizzling with a bit of olive oil and toasted pine nuts and baking it in the oven for about 20 minutes. You’ll wonder why everyone isn’t doing this.

Grapes? Before you plunk down that boring cluster of grapes on a cheese plate, roast them in the oven until juicy and pile them atop crostini that has been smeared with some room temperature cheese, such as blue or brie. Mind. Blown.

I’ve got lots more, but I’ll leave you with this quick little party nibble for hot, marinated olives. I still enjoy some olives cold, especially in a shot of icy cold vodka. But if the closest you’ve ever been to warm olives is on top of a pizza, these will knock your flip-flops off.

Sometimes a little change will do you good.

HOT SPICED OLIVES

INGREDIENTS
500 ml (2 cups) assorted olives with pits intact; a mixture of green and black are nice
250 ml (1 cup) good-quality extra virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, smashed with the side of a knife
15 ml (1 tbsp) fennel seeds
2-3 bay leaves
Couple sprigs of fresh thyme or 10 ml (2 tsp) dried thyme
Several pinches chili flakes
Generous grinding of cracked black pepper
6 good-sized pieces of lemon rind; use a carrot peeler to shave nice, big pieces from the lemon

To serve: Crusty bread, fresh lemon wedges

DIRECTIONS
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Place everything in the skillet, but hold back three pieces of fresh lemon rind.

Gently heat the olives and spiced oil until the oil begins to bubble gently around the olives. You don’t want the temperature to be so high that the olives fry or the lemon rind burns; it’s more like a slow, gentle simmer.

Keep moving the olives around in the oil until the olive skins start to crinkle a bit and soften slightly. Take an olive out, let it cool a bit and taste. The pits will be hot, so be careful!

Most olives will be salty enough, but if you think the olives and the oil could use a bit more salt and pepper, go ahead and season to your taste. Carefully tip olives and the oil into a nice clay serving dish.

Fish out the spent lemon rind and tuck in a few fresh pieces here and there.

Squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the top and serve with warm crusty bread and some nice, full-bodied wine.

Alternative preparation: Place everything in a foil baking dish, cover with foil and place on the outdoor grill over low heat for about a half-hour.

Recipe by NADINE FOWNES, source

Recipe: Olives, As You’ve Seldom Seen Them, 3.5 out of 10 based on 116 ratings

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