Spanish-Style Marinated Olives
Yield: 2 cups (easy to scale up or down)
I love how the utter simplicity of this recipe manages to deliver such wow factor. The olive fans in your world will devour these flavor-packed bites, and you'll appreciate the five minute prep. An easy upgrade to any cocktail hour, cheese board, or antipasto platter. Irresistibly snack-worthy and giftable too!


Ingredients

  • 2 cups olives, green or black or a mix, pitted or unpitted as preferred (see notes)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced (about 3 slices per clove)
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary (3-4 inch)
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoons dried chili flakes (use ⅛ teaspoon or omit if sensitive to spice; use up to a teaspoon for more heat)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) red wine or sherry vinegar
  • ½ cup (112 ml) good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Optional: 1 strip (~½-inch x 3-inch) orange zest
  • Optional for serving: block of feta cheese and crostini or slices of toasted ciabatta (see easy recipe in notes section)

Instructions

  1. Before you start: Bruising the fresh herbs with the back of a spoon will allow them to release more flavor. A 16-ounce jar will be the right size to just fit all the olives and allow the marinade to fully cover.

    Drain the olives and place them in a bowl. Add the garlic, thyme, rosemary, oregano, smoked paprika, chili flakes, bay leaf, and vinegar. Pour the olive oil over top, adding the orange or lemon zest if using, and gently toss. Transfer to a 16-ounce jar with a tight-fitting lid.

    Cover and marinate, ideally for 2 days to allow the flavors to be absorbed. Turn the jar upside down, gently shaking a few times each day to redistribute the spices. I often store them upside down for some of the time in the first day or two. (Just be sure the lid is tight fitting!)

    Storage: The olives will keep for up to a month in the refrigerator. Over time, the cool temperature will cause the olive oil to solidify; this is normal. Simply bring the olives to room temperature before enjoying.


Notes

The olives: Though I often use unpitted olives, an upside of pitted olives, aside from not having to discard the pit, is that the marinade can soak in from the inside too. Also, be sure to purchase fresh or brined olives, not olives that have already been marinated. If using brined olives, drain away the brine first.

The herbs: I like the mix of fresh and dried herbs. If you don’t have one or both fresh herbs, use 1 teaspoon dried for each, noting that your olive mix will have more little bits in it. Also, dried rosemary tends to be tougher than fresh. Conversely, if you have fresh oregano and prefer to use it, use 2 sprigs in place of the dried.

The zest: Though optional, a piece of the zest infuses subtle flavor, whereas grated zest can be too much. I like the warm note of orange, although lemon zest (or a mix) may be used.

Easy Baked Feta appetizer: Place a 7oz/200g block of feta in a small baking dish. Drizzle some of the marinade over top, and then bake for 15-20 minutes in an oven preheated to 400℉, or until the edges turn golden and the feta is very soft to the touch. When done, surround with some of the olives, and serve with crostini or slices of toasted ciabatta or crusty bread of choice. Tip: If you’d like to remove the feta to a different plate, line the baking dish with parchment paper so you can use it to easily lift the feta.

Another feta option: If desired, you can replace a portion of the olives in the main recipe with cubes of feta cheese for a Spanish-style marinated olives and feta.


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