Nothing says Greece like olives. Enjoyed in salads to baked dishes to olive oil, even the tree’s looks are impressive. Olive tree trunks are silvery, gray in color, quite gnarly and sturdy. The tree’s leaves are deep green on one side, the other side flashes and flutters a soft pewter at the first gentle breeze. Olive trees live to be hundreds and hundreds of years and still bear fruit. They are evocative and exquisitely beautiful. Olive trees compel me to question my purpose, my life… my existence.
Silly, maybe, but true. And they are everywhere. In the mountains and on the beaches, in the city or the country, there is no place without them. On road trips we pass field after field of olive trees, typically the only thing separating us is a rusty, old barbed wire fence. Frequently I glimpse a donkey or two wandering about. Sometimes you’ll see a flock of sheep nibbling on scrawny tufts of grass growing here and there. Precious goats are seen before heard, their handmade iron bells announcing their presence long before they have arrived.
I am often reminded of Greece when I happen to see paper journals or notebooks. We take and buy on our travels lightweight notebooks and use them everyday during our trip. Jimmy sketches all manner of things. from octopus hanging on a a metal wire to dry to an exceptional bit of architectural design he found in the corner of a building or a sexy archway leading into a private courtyard. I can’t draw to save my life therefore my journals are filled with a new word learned that day, a food combination I never in a million years would have thought of but flipped over at lunch. A fresh twist on a recipe, a gardening or landscaping idea, a lovely window treatment, no detail is too small or insignificant for me. Oh, no. I take pride in being the queen of minutiae. But the olive, plump and almost briny in its saltiness, that’s what always, always transports me back to Greece.
This recipe is ridiculously easy and fabulous to serve when you don’t want to leave the house and run to the store one more time, all the ingredients are found in your kitchen and you’ve got a couple of hours. Quite frankly, they are delicious freshly made but the longer the olives sit and marinate, well, they only get better. Oregano and rosemary are widely used in Greece but feel free to change the up the herbs. Fresh marjoram would be lovely as would fresh thyme. I buy my olives often at the grocery store olive bar and if they only have olives with herbs already on them I simply rinse them off at home. I prefer to use fresh herbs that I recognize. Serve the olives with good grilled bread, perfect to sop up all that fragrant olive oil.
Warm Orange Marinated Olives
- 1 cup best quality olive oil
- 3 bushy sprigs of rosemary
- 3 thick sprigs fresh oregano
- 1/2 orange, sliced then quartered
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced as thinly as possible
- 3 wide strips of orange peel from remaining half of the orange
- 2 wide strips lemon peel
- 2 cups Kalamata olives
- grilled bread or French bread to serve
- Pour olive oil in a small sauce pan and warm over medium heat.
- To the olive oil add the rosemary, oregano, the orange slices and sliced garlic. Press the herb sprigs into the olive oil making certain they’re covered. Allow to gently simmer for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to keep the garlic from getting too brown.
- Place olives, orange peel and lemon peel in an acid proof bowl.
- Pour the oil over the olive mixture and stir making sure to cover all the ingredients with the hot oil.
- Cover the bowl and let the contents marinate 2 hours or, if serving at a later date, refrigerate up to 3 days.
- Warm the olives in the microwave in 10-15 second intervals until the temperature is to your liking.
- Serve with bread to dip into the oil.