When entertaining, treat your guests to an unexpected and healthy appetizer of baked olives. In the time it takes to put together a cheese plate or veggie and dip tray, add some aromatics to good quality olives and bake them in the oven. It’s an easy (and impressive looking) addition to your appetizer selection.
For these baked olives, use a single variety of olive or olives in different sizes and colors for a more eye appealing and interesting option. I particularly like a mix Cerignola, Picholine, Sicilian and Kalamata olives. Make sure to serve these baked olives with toothpicks and have a dish available for the discarded pits.
Baked Olives with Rosemary and Fennel
1 pound imported olives – a mixture of small and large, and different colors are especially
2 – 3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
2 sprigs rosemary
1 ½ teaspoons fennel seeds
2 tablespoons olive oil
- Preheat oven to325 degrees.
- If the olives are in brine (as opposed to salt or oil) rinse them.
- Arrange olives in a single layer in an oven-proof dish, preferably one that you can also use as your serving dish.
- Scatter garlic, rosemary and fennel seeds across olives; drizzle mixture with olive oil
- Bake for 20 minutes or until olives are warm and fragrant.
- (See Beginner’s Tips for best method to store olives.)
- Baked Olives with Thyme and Citrus. Eliminate the rosemary and fennel seeds add in two sprigs of thyme and several pieces of lemon or orange peel.
- Baked Olives with Kick. Add a generous tablespoon of cracked red pepper flake to the olive mixture.
- Smashed Baked Olives. From any variation, remove olive pits and smash the mixture coarsely with the side of a knife or a fork to create a rustic paste. It is easier to remove the pits before baking. Serve with crackers or toasted bread.
Place any uneaten baked olives into a glass container and refrigerate. The olives should keep for a couple of weeks.
When serving olives, always use a fork, toothpick or spoon rather than fingers. Fingers introduce bacteria into the olives and cause them to go bad much more rapidly.
Olives, which are the fruit of the olive tree, are an important component of the heart healthy Mediterranean diet. Although somewhat high in sodium due to the curing process that takes olives from inedible to delicious, olives are loaded with antioxidants which may link to disease prevention.
You can find olives packed in salt, water, olive oil, or brine, in either a jarred or canned form. Skip the canned version as those olives tend to be mushy. You may also be able to find olives in bulk at specialty stores – at an olive bar or pre-packaged in plastic containers. These bulk olives may be marinated in spices and herbs.