The first warm olive conversation came when they were physically present, as four of us, two couples, sat at the bar of a French-inspired establishment. We were hungry and thirsty, waiting for a table at a taco joint across the street. The olives arrived, mixed sizes, gently warmed and with a hint of orange that permeated each and every bite. Intensely savoury, salty, gently sweet-meets-hot and citrusy – we were smitten.
The second time the discussion turned to warm olives was when my boyfriend and I were invited to dinner by another couple of our friends. The well-travelled gourmets that they are alerted us to the unbelievably moreish warm olives at The Savoy in London, England, which will very soon be our new home (London, not The Savoy (I wish)).
When I developed this recipe, I served the first batch to a third couple, friends and beloved neighbours. Camilla, one half of the pair, is a pastry chef and preserver, owner of the company Preservation Society. I used her Daddy Lessons marmalade (how great is that name?) in this recipe. Her preserves, from jams to jellies to cocktail garnishes, are the best I’ve tried. Lucky me, I sometimes get to be a taste-tester for Camilla if I pop by at the right time while she’s stirring away over the stove in her giant copper cauldron.
This recipe is special, and really about the quality of ingredients, so go big. Warm olives are not for those who enjoy mild, subdued flavours, but big, bold tastes. Almost too perfect for the upcoming holiday season, double, triple or quadruple the recipe for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, holiday cocktail parties and more.
Cocktails, appetizers, pre-dinner snacks – whatever you call them, this particular warm olives recipe must be on the table. Best shared with a gutsy beverage, friends and a hearty appetite. It’s elegant yet incredibly simple food with a heck of a lot to offer.
Warm Olives with Orange Marmalade, Thyme and Garlic
The ideal nibble at cocktail hour, or to accompany a larger cheese platter, these warm olives will disappear quickly so you may want to make a double (or quadruple) batch. Thanksgiving, Christmas, the holiday season in general, any day, really, warm olives don’t disappoint. Here, orange marmalade, thyme and garlic permeate every olive for a robust, addictive bite. These are vegan, gluten-free, grain-free and dairy-free, so everyone at the party can dive in.
250 g (1 cup) good-quality mixed olives (from deli or specialty food store)
3 pickled peppadew peppers, torn
1 heaping Tbsp best marmalade you can buy (I used Preservation Society’s Daddy Lessons marmalade, but the Classic Seville Orange Marmalade, which I have tried and adore, would be perfect, too (maybe even more perfect!))
2 cloves garlic, peeled and halved lengthwise
6 sprigs fresh thyme
salt, to taste, optional
1. Add all ingredients to a medium skillet, stir to combine and cook, stirring a few times, over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until olives are warmed through and infused. Discard thyme sprigs if desired and transfer to a serving bowl. Serve warm with a small bowl for guests to discard pits.
– Make the recipe up to 1 week ahead of time to turn the warm olives into warm marinated olives. Reheat before serving.