Five Easy Bites for Holiday Entertaining Part 1 – Moroccan Spiced Olives
Does this sound familiar? You’re racing around, juggling oven and stove top space in your last minute efforts to get Thanksgiving and/or Christmas or Hanukah dinner table ready when guests begin arriving. Not exactly a time for fussy, labor intensive hors d’ouevre, but if your family is anything like mine, we are definitely ready for a few nibbles to visit over. We also like to toast with a glass or two of champagne before we sit at the table (I promise these appetizers are all very champagne friendly), so I’ve decided to share 5 of my favorite easy, ready for any special occasion, bites (yes, the title is in homage to Five Easy Pieces for the boomers out there) with you over these next few posts.
Some of them can be made ahead of time, and just set out waiting for the hungry guests to arrive. And some get a little help from pre-made items easily found at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods or other gourmet groceries. Yes, I do cheat every once in a while.
This first recipe for Moroccan Spiced Olives is, once again, a recipe clipped from the pages of the lamented Gourmet Magazine. When I served it a few years back at an art showing I catered, my bartender remarked it was a great item to serve in a bar, because the addictive spiciness and saltiness would keep customers coming back for more drinks – so be sure to have lots of bubbly on hand.
Moroccan Spiced Olives
The original recipe called only for green olives, but I like ripe olives so much better that I mix the greens with Kalamatas. They also have the advantage of being much more readily available. And, of course, if you have any left over, they keep well, so you can serve them again on New Year’s Eve!
- 2 cups green and black olives (with pits) in brine (10 ounces), such as Picholine or Lucques, and Kalamata, lightly smashed to crack open slightly
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons Mutti Italian Double Concentrate Tomato Paste 4.5 oz. Tube
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 teaspoons Harissa Condiment in Tube – Spicy 120 Gr (North African spice paste)
- 3 (4-to 5-inch) thyme sprigs
- 2 thin lemon slices
- Cover olives with water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, then drain.
- Cook garlic in oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until garlic is golden, about 2 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in water, harissa, thyme, and olives and simmer briskly, stirring occasionally, until liquid is thickened and coats olives, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon slices. Transfer to a shallow dish and marinate, chilled, at least 24 hours. Add a couple of fresh thyme sprigs and lemon slices for garnish when serving.