Olives snuggled together remind me of the roundest animal scales or tiny picturesque ruffled mountains and hills. You see them at the specialty store in their little bins, with their confetti flecks of spices and seasonings oilily clinging to them. You see them in the condiment aisle, fat or miniature but always bursty and filled with firey red pimentos or jalapenos, or plain. Sometimes I see these usual suspects in the always questionable food aisles at Marshalls or TJ Maxx, a discounted price label slapped upon them haphazardly because these lonesome jars of olives from Smith & Wollensky stuffed with blue cheese not desired wherever they were previously sold. There’s the prized “fancy” olives that are dubiously high priced. But are you going to throw down $20 for a scarce, Oliver Twist style portion of olives? I didn’t think so.
Which leads me to urge you to make your own fancy olives in the comfort of your home. Olives that need no specialty ingredients whatsoever. Simply purchase the most down-to-earth bottles of olives that you can find, and add some super punchy flavors. It’ll give you a reason to use those olives in your pantry guilty of loitering, along with those cloves of garlic that are about to sprout the green thing, and the citrus that are seeing their last days in your produce bowl. With just a few simple ingredients, mundane olives go through a metamorphosis and become piquant, thumping your mouth with flavor that resonates long after they reach your stomach.
These olives are, without a doubt, overflowing with promise. I promise these will rival and be triumphant over any store-bought marinated olives. I promise your dad will love them, rave about them for days and days, eat them from the fridge with a spoon, oil included (ew), and add them to anything and everything including a base for pasta with tomato sauce, even maybe a puttanesca. I promise your guests will love them. I promise they’ll last for months in the fridge, slowly increasing with flavor each day. I promise you’ll be satisfied, as always, to do something on your own and create a beautiful thing from your kitchen. To me, nothing is better.
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Yields about 3 cups
Note: the original recipe specifically asks for Kalamata and green olives, but I think any punchy flavorful olives besides one-dimensional canned black olives will work.
3 cups jarred olives of your choice
1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup orange juice
6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
Combine all ingredients in large heavy-duty resealable plastic bag. Shake bag to blend ingredients. Refrigerate at least 1 day and up to 3 days, turning bag occasionally. Transfer olives and some marinade to bowl. Let stand 1 hour at room temperature before serving.
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