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Olives with Orange and Marjoram

Nowadays, many shoppers are blessed with a wide variety of cured olives at their markets. Among the most commonly available are the black Kalamata from Greece; the mild, green picholine and the tiny, black Niçoise from France; the Gaeta from Italy; and the Manzanillo from Spain. Two tasty olives that, until relatively recently, were not often seen outside their places of origin are the large, mild, green Bella di Cerignola from Italy and the herb-seasoned black olive typically labeled Moroccan. Do not use ripe black pitted California olives for this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. brine-cured green or black olives, drained
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 1⁄8 tsp. orange oil (see Note)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Tbs. fresh marjoram leaves
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

In a ceramic or glass bowl, combine the olives, orange zest and juice, orange oil, garlic, salt, pepper, marjoram and olive oil. Toss well. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve. Any uneaten olives may be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Makes about 60 room-temperature bites.

Note: Orange oil, painstakingly extracted from the zest of oranges, is sold in small quantities. A little goes a very long way. It is available from specialty-food shops and through mail-order catalogs.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Hors d'Oeuvre, by Brigit L. Binns (Simon & Schuster, 2001).