In this recipe, nicoise olives are marinated in flavorful rosemary oil with masses of rosemary leaves, a simple technique that imparts a wonderful flavor to the olives and seems to intensify their own. The rosemary is cooked in the oil, so it keeps its green color for several weeks. Packed into French canning jars, these olives look like they were homemade in Provence. They make a perfect instant hors d’oevures with chilled wine or cocktails.
Because it is difficult to make the rosemary oil in small quantity, this recipe yields more than you will need to flavor the olives. It is an extremely versatile oil that can be used in salad dressings, on vegetables, ripe tomatoes and roasted peppers, pasta, mashed or baked potatoes, to fry eggs, to drizzle on foccaccia and grilled bread, and in soups and vegetable stews.
Nicoise olives are available in jars in the gourmet section of supermarkets. The olives will keep about 3 weeks and the oil indefinitly under refrigeration.
1/4 cup extra–virgin
1/2 cup fresh rosemary sprigs
1 pound Nicoise olives, drained and rinsed
Freshly ground black pepper
In a small heavy saucepan, heat the oil over moderate heat until hot. The oil is hot enough when rosemary sprig frizzles when dropped into the oil. Reduce the heat to low. Add the rosemary sprigs and cook about 2 minutes until the oil is very fragrant. Remove the pan from the heat and let the oil steep at least 10 minutes before using.
Strain the oil into a small bowl. Press the rosemary sprigs with the back of a spoon to extract any oil.
Place the olives in a medium bowl. Add the rosemary sprigs and 2 teaspoons of the flavored oil to the olives and toss to coat. Add fresh pepper to taste and pack the olives and rosemary in clean, dry jars.