Sunday 18 December 2011

Warm Marinated Olives with Lime, Thyme and Chilli

Fresh limes and olives are unlikely bedfellows, I know, but I was fresh out of lemons when I made this yesterday, so slices of lime it had to be. And, my goodness, the lime tasted good! (Although there's no startling difference in the final taste, a green and perky note of lime adds special zip to the olive-oil marinade.)  I often make this dish in summer as a snack to go with drinks: it's so quick and easy to prepare in advance, it tastes gorgeous, and it goes a long way if you serve it with a big platter of sliced crusty bread for dipping.

Warm Marinated Olives with Lime, Thyme and Chilli
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 seeing how far you can spit it  placing it daintily on the side of your plate).

I alway use Calamata olives because they're so big and glossy and delicious, but you can use any sort of black brined olive, or a mixture of green and black olives.

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

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Sam said...

Yum, all my favourite kind of flavours.

Anonymous said...

This looks fantastic! I'm a South African living in Ethiopia at the moment, and since they tend not to put salt in their bread or pasta dishes, I often crave olives. I found your site through a random link on Twitter, and immediately decided to make this for Christmas.

Thanks for a great blog :)


Jane-Anne said...

Dear Lauren

Thank you very much! Ethiopa? Wow! Let me know how your olives turn out.

Kitchenboy said...

LIKE! As Sam said, all my favourite flavours, happily together in one place.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't access Blogger sites for a while, but the problem seems to have worked itself and I can finally comment.

The olives worked out beautifully :) I like the use of lime, because those are common in Ethiopia, while lemons are scarce. I couldn't get fresh thyme, so I used rosemary instead, which was lovely. I was cooking on a regular stove rather than gas, so heating the olives took quite a lot longer, but I just kept an eye and an ear on them. Thanks again for the lovely recipe!

Jane-Anne said...

Hi Lauren. Thanks so much for this comment. I love the idea of rosemary in this recipe - it goes so well with olives. Lucky you to have such free access to limes in Ethiopia: they're tiny, scarce and very expensive in S.A.