Monday, 5 May 2014

Marinated Olives

We are olive lovers in this house (I'm aware they are an acquired taste but hopefully this recipe might convert you) We munch on them for snacks, we add them to all manner of recipes from breads to stews, we have them with cheeses and anti-pasta and we put them on kebabs.

Recently we had lunch at a little cafe in Penzance where we ate the most amazing marinated olives. They were served to us as a complimentary dish with our wine whilst waiting for our meal to arrive. 

this took a while............

and a bit longer................

and even longer......................

However, when our food did arrive it was excellent. It transpired that the chef had had to go home (reasons unknown - pity I like a good gossip!) leaving the poor owner on his own to cope - it's a good job I wasn't aware of this before our meal arrived or I might have headed into the kitchens to help!

Anyway, it did give us time to enjoy the olives and work out the marinade. Apparently, the chef marinades them himself in a hot honey, herb & spices mix simmering them until all the liquid has evaporated leaving a sticky sweet dressing on each olive. We enjoyed them so much that we have been back for more and have developed our own version of them..............

This is one of those recipe's that you can add almost what ever you want (within reason) and can use up any half tub of olives, sun-dried tomatoes & char-grilled peppers you have loitering in the fridge but, as with any other recipe, the quality of the ingredients will effect the finished dish - this recipe will not prolong the life of any ingredients only enhance their original flavour.

Basic Dish
500g Mixed Olives (stoned or un-stoned your choice - I used Kalamata, Manzanilla,Nocellara & Couchillo Olives.)
2 Large Cloves of Garlic unpeeled
1 Tsp Coriander
1-2 Tsp Cumin (your choice it depends on how much you like this spices flavour)
Pinch Salt
Few twists of Black Pepper
1 Tsp Dried Rosemary
1 Tsp Dried Thyme
2-3 Dried Bay Leaves
Orange Zest of  Half an Orange (use a potato peeler for this)
2 Tbsp Honey
1/2 pint water
2 Tsp of good Balsamic Vinegar (Modena is best)

Sun-dried tomatoes (the harder ones not sun blushed there too soft and will break down whilst cooking)
Char-grilled Peppers
Fresh Chillies
Button Onions
Artichoke Hearts (folded in right at the end of cooking)
Any other dried herb or spice you fancy
Experiment until you find you favourite

Pop everything into a heavy bottomed pan, except for the balsamic vinegar, and bring gently to the boil. Reduce the heat to a very,very low simmer & leave to cook gently until all the liquid has evaporated. To judge if its ready test the garlic cloves - if they are translucent & offer up a little resistance when prodded, it ready, if however, they are still under cooked just stir in a little more water & repeat the exercise until its done.

When you are happy with the texture of your garlic remove from the heat and stir in the balsamic vinegar. Now - it depends on the thickness of the vinegar as to whether you have to return the pan to the heat. If it's quite runny & has added too much liquid pop back on the heat and reduce until a sticky residual has returned.

Give it all a quick taste and add salt & pepper if needed. Don't forget that the flavours will develop more on cooling and after leaving for a day - also the flavours are better at room temperature so bring out from the fridge about half hour before serving.

Eat & enjoy

For best results have a glass of red wine to hand, a nice loaf of crusty french bread and a hot sunny summers evening...............

waiting for the barbecue.........

optional obviously ................

the barbecue not the red wine!

Printable Recipe



A quick note on balsamic vinegar. I only use Modena and try to buy the best I can afford. The better quality the vinegar the thicker and more flavoursome  it is. Therefore, you tend to need to use less so it last longer than the cheaper varieties. As usual it's all a matter of taste and budget.