It's not essential to warm the flavouring ingredients in the olive oil (if you're in a hurry, pack everything into a jar and leave it to steep for three days) but I've found that heating the marinade helps to release the lovely aromatic oils in the thyme, citrus zest, chilli, garlic and pepper. It takes less than a minute gently to reheat the olives before you take them to the table, and it's well worth the effort, because the aromas that drift from the warm oil are quite irresistible.
You can stone the olives if you like, but I think half the fun of eating an olive is rolling its pip around your mouth (and then
Warm Marinated Olives with Lime, Thyme and Chilli
1 large jar Calamata olives, drained (or olives of your choice)
enough extra-virgin olive oil to cover the olives (about a cup and half; 375 ml)
2 slices of fresh lime or lemon
½ tsp (2.5 ml) dried red chilli flakes
1 large fresh red chilli, split in half lengthways (or more, to taste)
4 cloves of garlic, unpeeled and sliced in half lengthways
2 large sprigs of fresh thyme
2 fresh lemon leaves, if you can find them
milled black pepper
flaky sea salt
the juice of half a lemon
If you have time, cut a slit in the side of each olive. Pour the olive oil into a saucepan and stir in the olives, lime slices, chilli flakes, fresh chilli, garlic, thyme and lemon leaves. Add plenty of freshly ground black pepper (eight to ten twists of the mill). Very gently heat the olive oil over a low flame, until it's quite hot and beginning to seethe, but not yet bubbling; this will take 3-4 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and, using the back of a fork, squash and squish the garlic cloves to release more of their flavour. Tip the mixture into a lidded plastic container (or a very large glass jar) and set aside at room temperature to steep for at least six hours - preferably overnight.
If you'd like to make this a few days in advance, you can refrigerate the mixture. Don't worry if the oil solidifies in patches: it will melt down again when you rewarm the mixture.
When you're ready to serve the olives, tip the mixture back into the saucepan and reheat it gently over a medium flame for one minute, or until very warm, but nowhere near piping hot.
Remove the pan from the heat and squeeze in the fresh lemon juice. Season with flaky sea salt, add a few more grinds of black pepper and stir well. Tip the mixture into a shallow serving dish and take it straight to the table with some sliced fresh bread.
Serves 6-8 as a snack Print Friendly