Sunday, February 13, 2011

"7 Nights of Tapas" Recipe: Marinated Black Olives

I'd like to start with a story. Let's title it "Return to the Dark Side". 

Moving to the Czech Republic can change a girl's eating habits. Sure, I eat items I had only heard about and had erroneously imagined to be something different than they actually are (I'm thinking about dumplings here, which I always believed to be strictly a pouch wrapped around filling, not thick bready slices). Besides this, I've also tried more parts of the pig than I've ever imaged, and my vegetable content has plummeted in the winter.

One thing I hadn't expected was changing my preference towards olives. I grew up preferring the black variety. The big bulbous cheap kind that fits perfectly on the fingertips when I should have been helping during family pizza night. Then, kalamatas stormed into my young adult life. Green olives were always strictly for cocktails, BBQs, and Packer games.

When I moved here my shopping trips tripled in time. I had to re-examine EVERYTHING. It was all different. Different products, brands, prices...and all in this new language. I had to learn what was expensive here. Of course the import aisle with the maple syrup, peanut butter, steel cut oats and tapenades were to be a luxury. But other things surprised me. Beef tenderloin was disproportionately pricey, while pork tenderloin was lower than I remember.

Then we got to the olive aisle. Black olives were four times the price of greens! And this is just the cheap fingertip kind. Kalamatas don't exist outside of some import sections, and I've never even seen any niçoise here.

I switched. I went to the green side. No longer just a garnish, but I began learning how to cook with them. Now, cauliflower and green olive penne is one of my favourite pasta dishes. Once, I even mashed some greens up into a tapenade to eat with carrots and goat cheese. I got used to the higher brininess of the greens, and now I crave it.

Except for this week. This week, I'm consumed with all things Spanish. I'm escaping this wintry week with my very own Seville fantasy. I want hot hot hot exoticism. Green olives have become mundane for me. But black, well, I haven't had black since I don't remember when. So to cater to the fantasy, I've now got a jar plump full of marinated black olives in the fridge. It's Back to the Dark Side.

7 Nights of Tapas:
1. Garlic Shrimp
2. Garlic Mushrooms
3. Spiced Roasted Almonds
4. Garbanzo Beans with Chorizo
5. Marinated Black Olives
6. Figgy Manchego and Jamon Toasts
7. Spinach (Almost/Vegetarian) Empanadas

Continue to Recipe...
Marinated Black Olives
Time  20 mins (plus 3 days marinating)
Serves 4
Eat with thick slices of manchego cheese

1 can (12oz / 350g) black olives
5 garlic cloves, sliced thin the long way
1/4 tsp crushed dried red chili pepper
1 tsp whole coriander seeds
zest of 2 lemons (in big strips)
juice of 2 - 3 lemons (1/3 cup)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup white wine vinegar

Note: One could also use green olives, or a mix of the two.

Drain the olives and toss in a big plastic bag with a tight seal, or just a medium bowl. Add garlic slices, chili pepper, coriander and lemon zest. Squish / mix everything together quite well. Put in a jar that you've chosen carefully for its size. The olives should fill it completely. You don't want much empty space at top. Fill the jar with equal parts lemon juice, olive oil and white vinegar. Stick in the fridge for a few days, and serve at room temperature with other tapas and bread.

Dobrou Chut'/ Enjoy!
-- Jo

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