It's amazing what changing the expected temperature of a dish can do to incite cocktail conversation. Gentle heat from the oven awakens the briny richness of olives, while fennel, orange, rosemary, and balsamic vinegar assert their own personalities to brighten the overall flavor of this appetizer. Purchase pitted kalamata olives to speed up preparation.
1 tablespoon extravirgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange rind
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 small fennel bulb, cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges
12 kalamata olives, pitted
12 pimiento-stuffed olives
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
How to Make It
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add rind, rosemary, fennel seeds, and fennel wedges; cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add olives; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in vinegar. Place fennel mixture in an 8-inch square baking dish. Cover and let stand at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 250°.
Uncover olive mixture. Bake at 250° for 10 minutes or until heated, stirring once.
This is a wonderful dish. It's extremely easy and can be served as an appetizer or set aside to rest while you're cooking the remainder of your meal. I put this on our dinner plates along side the wonderful CL mushroom-polenta-tomato-ricotta cheese baked main and some steamed chard. The flavors are fabulous. I used big fat Queen olives and kalamatas. Mine only rested one hour, and that was sufficient; it reheated briefly in the same 350 oven as the baked dish. What a taste treat!
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