Citrus Marinated Olives are an easy appetizer for your next party. They’re also perfect for happy hour with a glass of wine!
I tried warm marinated olives several years ago at a restaurant, and I’ve been thinking of them ever since. I searched the restaurant’s website for the olives but they appear to be long gone from the menu.
So I created them at home, and I’m SO glad I did. They were a hit at a holiday buffet that I put together with my friend Kelley of Haviland Events. She created the table decor (from Target and Michael’s) and I did the food.
Now back to the Citrus Marinated Olives! Here’s how I made them:
How to make marinated olives
Start with olive oil—mine is a mixture of olive oil and extra virgin olive oil from Trader Joe’s. Most olive oils will do just fine here.
Heat the oil gently in a sauté pan over medium heat. Then add the aromatics. I chose garlic, rosemary, fennel, and orange zest cut into strips. I used a citrus zester like this one to create the strips—I think they look prettier than using a microplane.
I heated the aromatics in the oil for a few minutes until the garlic was mostly cooked, and then tossed in the olives. They were delicious right away, but even better when I let them sit for a day or two for the flavors to marry.
The fridge is the best place to do this. When you’re ready to serve them, you will need to heat the olives slightly in a sauté pan until the olive oil becomes liquid again (the oil solidifies in the refrigerator).
How to choose aromatics for marinated olives
I LOVE this combination of garlic, rosemary, fennel, and orange zest. The flavors keep you guessing and they complement the olives so well.
Thyme would be a great substitute for the rosemary. Lemon juice, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes are other common additions or substitutions.
If you don’t like fennel, leave it out. Fennel always reminds of me Italian sausage, so I find that it lends a “meaty” taste to these olives.
Citrus Marinated Olives
- ½ lb assorted pitted olives drained
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves thinly sliced
- 1 small sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- Zest strips of one orange
- Warm the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic cloves, rosemary, fennel seeds, and orange zest. Heat for 2–3 minutes, or until the garlic is mostly cooked.
- Add the olives. Stir to coat the olives with the olive oil mixture. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator overnight (or at least for 4 hours) for the flavors to marry.
- To serve, pour the entire mixture in a sauté pan and stir gently until the olive oil is liquid again (it solidifies in the refrigerator). The olives can be served warm or at room temperature.