Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Marinated Olives Moroccan Style

Read enough of my blog and you'll notice a theme, a Mediterranean one that is, and for me what most defines Mediterranean cuisines is olives. Olive oil has been a staple in my pantry ever since my first cookbook stated that it was the best oil to cook with, bar none. But it is the fruit itself that has my supreme adoration. I have never met an olive I didn't like.

Marinating olives is very simple and the taste is so gratifying! Mix a few seasonings, whether it be herbs, fruit zest or spices, add some olive oil and allow to marry for a few days and voila! You have marinated olives. 

This marinade was spectacular! The preserved lemon (make your own!) combined with the garlic and just a touch of heat from the dried chilies created layer upon layer of flavors. The cracked coriander was especially refreshing, and the bay leaf gave it that je ne sais quoi, but I loved it!

A note on the olives. Although I used cracked green, the black oil-cured (sometimes called salt-cured) would work well as well. If possible, you want to purchase olives that still have their pits. Olives that have been pitted are softer and more mushy and the marinating process will soften them further, creating a less than desirable consistency.

Marinated Olives Moroccan Style (from Flavors of the Sun)

2 cups cracked green olives, with pits
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed in mortar and pestle
2-3 dried bay leaves
3-4 small dried red chilies (I used some dried bird's eye, or Thai ones that I had)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 whole preserved lemon, rinsed, and pulped scraped out, cut in strips

Rinse olives and pat dry and place in large mixing bowl. In cast iron skillet dry roast cumin, bay leaves, coriander and chilies for 45-60 seconds until they are fragrant. Pour over olives and mix well, allowing bay leaves to break and mix in with olives. Heat skillet over medium heat and add olive oil and garlic and cook until fragrant but garlic does not brown (remove it from the oil immediately if it begins to color). Remove from heat and pour oil and garlic over olives and mix well. Pour lemon juice over olives and add preserved lemon and mix well to distribute evenly. Store in jar (I used a quart mason jar) in the refrigerator. They will keep for a month, and will be well marinated within 3 days. Allow to sit out for 30-45 minutes at room temperature before serving.


Recipes currently inspiring me:

Fig Jam at Kalofagas
Two Tomato Pasta with Mozzarella, Basil and Pine Nuts at The Italian Dish
Napoleon Complex at Stacey Snacks

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