feasting at home: Warm Rosemary Olives with Chili Threads

December 29, 2013

Warm Rosemary Olives with Chili Threads

Let us be grateful to people who 
make us happy; They are the charming gardeners 
who make our souls blossom. 
-Marcel Proust

This warm, fragrant appetizer was first introduced to me by my friend Neicy at Monday night book club.  I fell in love it it, not only for its great flavor and originality,  but also for its simple quick preparation.  Marcona almonds and Castelvetrano olives are warmed over the stove in a small heavy bottom pot or dutch oven.  Bathed in olive oil, seasoned with whole garlic cloves, fresh rosemary, and fennel and cumin seeds, the almonds and olives take on lovely flavors.  Finish it off with a little lemon zest and dried chili threads - and viola, you'll have a delicious appetizer, in 10 minutes flat,  just in time for your New Years Eve gathering. 

For inspiration on how to serve your holiday or New Years Eve goodies, take a look at my friend Serena's blog, The Farm Chickswhere she shows pretty ways to present holiday appetizers. It was so much fun creating this post with Jill and Serena at Jill's home in Valley Ford. I am reminded how much inspiration we receive from our friends -and how just being around friends stimulates us and gets our creative juices percolating. So thanks Neicy, Jill and Serena for the much needed inspiration!






It helps to have a cute little pot to serve this in, but a baking dish or ceramic dish will work great too.


For this recipe, if possible use Marcona almonds, which are Spanish almonds that have been blanched and roasted. They are available at stores like Whole foods, Trader Joes and even Costco. 

For the bright green olives you see here, seek out Castelvetrano olives, which can be found at specialty food stores, and here locally at Huckleberries and Cost Plus World Market. Castelvetrano Olives are produced exclusively in Castelvetrano, Sicily, from the olive variety known as "nocerella del belice". They are easily recognized by their distinctive bright green hue and meaty, buttery flesh. Delivering just the right amount of salt and not a hint of bitterness, this is my hands down, favorite olive. If you can't find Castelvetrano olives, choose a variety of olives at your grocery store's "olive bar". 





In a small heavy bottom pot, warm the olive oil.



Add a handful of whole garlic cloves. This will infuse the oil with delicious flavor.


When they just begin to turn golden brown add fresh rosemary.




Add a teaspoon of fennel seeds and a teaspoon of cumin seeds.


Toast for a couple minutes, stirring often.

Add the Marcona Almonds and the Castlevetrano olives.


Castelvetrano Olives are produced exclusively in Castelvetrano, Sicily, from the olive variety known as nocerella del belice. They are easily recognized by their distinctive bright green hue and meaty, buttery flesh. Delivering just the right amount of salt and not a hint of bitterness, this is my hands down, favorite olive.



The dried chili threads - can be found at most Asian markets. They are extremely thin threads of sun-dried red pepper that make an interesting garnish for just about anything. Traditionally used in the Korean condiment kimchi, they have a mild heat and full flavor that adds depth to soups, salads, hors d'oeuvres, eggs or anything that deserves a little extra color and spice. For even deeper flavor, lightly toast them in a dry skillet. Use them in place of chili flakes for added interest.


















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Ingredients
2-3 Tble olive oil
8-10 cloves garlic
2 T fresh rosemary
2 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp cumin
1 Cup Marcona almonds
2 Cup Castelvetrano olives (or a variety)
lemon zest
chile threads (optional)

Instructions
Warm oil over medium heat in a small heavy bottom pot or skillet. Add whole garlic cloves and turn heat to medium low, stirring occasionally until golden and fragrant. Add rosemary leaves and fennel seeds. Stir 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add cumin seeds, and cook another minute, stirring often. Add olives and almonds and sauté, stirring occasionally until both are warm, about 5-7 minutes. You can hold in a warm oven (180F) up to ½ hour, covered, until ready to serve.  Garnish with lemon zest and chili threads.
Details
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