Olives grow throughout Spain, and the varieties from each region have distinct flavors. Pick your favorite olives for this dish—as long as they’re from Spain! Here I’ve used a selection of the country’s best varieties.–José Andrés
LC Fancy That! Note
We know what you’re thinking. “Do I really need to be told to set out olives when company comes?” Or, if you’re one of those overachieving types of home cooks, perhaps you’re thinking something more along the lines of “Olives are a terribly unimaginative thing to plonk on the table when it comes time to pour apéritifs, don’t you think?” Yet there’s a reason setting out olives is customary in cultures as refined as Spain, Italy, France, and so forth throughout Europe. The pungent, astringent, briny-like-the-sea taste perfectly complements all manner of wine and spirits. It also literally whets the appetite and, we find, teases the palate. Olives straight up are always acceptable—and traditional, mind you—yet if you’re one of those aforementioned overachieving types, consider this elegant yet almost effortless herb-infused approach.
- Quick Glance
- 5 M
- 5 M
- Serves 8 to 10
- 1 orange, preferably organic
- 5 small garlic cloves, peeled if desired
- 1 cup Empeltre or other cured black olives
- 1 cup Arbequina or other small cured green olives
- 1 cup Manzanilla olives (large green olives also known as “Spanish” olives)
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 sprigs thyme, broken up with your fingers
- 2 sprigs rosemary, broken up with your fingers
- 1 cup Spanish extra-virgin olive oil, preferably an Arbequina variety
- 2 tablespoons Marcona almonds (optional)
- Coarse sea salt to taste
- 1. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the orange. Halve and squeeze the orange over a small bowl to release as much juice as possible.
- 2. Smash the garlic cloves by placing them on a chopping board and pressing down hard with the heel of your hand, the bottom of a cast-iron skillet, or the flat side of a chef’s knife. Place the garlic, olives, bay leaves, thyme, and rosemary in a large bowl and add the olive oil and the orange zest and juice. Mix well.
- 3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and marinate at room temperature for no more than 4 hours or refrigerate at least overnight and up to 1 week.
- 4. When you’re ready to serve the olives, garnish with the almonds, if using, and a sprinkle of sea salt. You want to consume the olives within a week of preparing them—chances are that will pose no problem at all.