It's hard to believe that there was once a time when I did not like olives. In fact, I detested them. I turned my nose up at them, pushed them not just to the side of my Greek salads and vegetable pizzas, but completely off my plate, afraid they may accidentally jump into my mouth. One summer, my older sister even dared my younger sister and I to eat an olive, promising to squirt Hershey's chocolate syrup into our mouths if we did. Of course I ate the olive, but by no means did a mouthful of Hershey's syrup change my strained relationship with the little orb. It wasn't until I traveled abroad to Spain and live with a host family, where I desperately tried to fit in and be respectful of their culture that I begin to appreciate them. I began to love their richness, their brininess, and their brightness. I discovered that olives came in all different shapes and sizes- from the wrinkled salty black Niçoise olives, to the round buttery green Castelvetrano olives, to the salty, juicy Kalamata olives. For this recipe, a bath in olive oil, rosemary, garlic, and citrus zest elevates store bought olives to a whole new dimension and are sure to please any olive lover and just may convert those non-olive lovers. I use a mix of Castelvetrano olives and Cerignola olives, two firm, buttery types. These are perfect as an accompaniment to a cheese or charcuterie plate or just for snacking.
Citrus and Rosemary Marinated Olives
2 c. olives, preferably a mild and buttery variety like Cerignola or Castelvetrano
1 c. extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
In a small saucepan, warm the olive oil, garlic cloves, and rosemary for 10 minutes over medium-low heat. You want to infuse the oil with flavor, being careful not to burn the garlic and rosemary. Remove the oil from the heat and add the olives and 4 large strips of zest from each the lemon and the orange to the oil. Stir everything to coat and allow to marinate at room temperature for at least an hour, or marinate overnight in the fridge. Allow the olives to come to room temperature before serving. Makes 2 cups.