A homemade marinade personalizes cured olives, heightening their appeal. Serve as is, or warm them to release their wonderful aromas. The olives are delicious on their own, but they’re also a welcome addition to a cheese platter for meals and parties. Sheep’s and cow’s milk cheeses from Spain, France and Greece make perfect partners; try Manchego, Cantal, Istara or feta.
Warm Marinated Olives
1 cup (5 oz./155 g.) assorted olives such as Picholine, Nicoise and Kalamata
1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml.) extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds, coarsely crushed
1 orange peel strip, about 2 inches (5 cm.) long
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
Rinse the olives well and pat thoroughly dry. In a frying pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. When the oil is hot, stir in the olives, fennel seeds and orange peel and heat until the olives are hot throughout, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl, and let cool completely.
Add the lemon juice to the olives and toss well. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours, stirring occasionally to redistribute the seasoning. (At this point, the olives can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks before serving.)
To serve, preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Put the olives and their marinade in a baking dish and bake until they are warm throughout, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, lift the olives out of the marinade and transfer to a serving dish. Serve warm, with a bowl alongside for pits. Makes 1 1/2 cups (7 oz./220 g.).
Recipe from Williams-Sonoma Cheese, by Georgeanne Brennan.