Authentic Suburban Gourmet: Warm Spicy Citrus Castelvetrano Olives

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When I am at Whole Foods, nine times out of ten, I make my
way to the olive bar.
  They house one of
the best selections in the Bay Area of olives without having to venture to a
specialty shop in San Francisco.  One of my absolute favorites is the
Castelvetrano Olive.  It is grown
exclusively in western Sicily
among the Belice river valley, near the town of Castelvetrano.  The prime time for harvesting is the
beginning of October through mid November. 

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Contrary to popular belief, this olive is not actually
cured, but goes through a similar process as to the California
style black ripe olives.  The olive is
washed in lye, or caustic soda for up to 12 hours.  It takes the bitterness out of the olive and
then it is continually washed in fresh water to remove the lye.  Then it is either refrigerated or
canned.  This process produces an intense
green color and sweet flavor profile.   A
great pairing to this beautiful olive is parmesan-reggiano, mozzarella, marcona
almonds and Genoa salami.

I wanted to create a quick recipe that was packed with
flavor we could enjoy for our Friday Night Bites.  Hubby doesn’t like anything with a pit or
bones, so luckily Whole Foods had the pitted version of the Castelvetrano
olive.  The idea of serving warm olives
with garlic, citrus, spicy red pepper and fresh thyme simply resonated with
me.  The flavor combination was simply
divine, fresh and a perfect little bite. 
I actually serve with a small fork so you can get the different bits of
flavor in one bite.  The zest of the orange
and lightly toasted slice of garlic with a fleck of spicy red pepper was a wonderful
treat for my mouth. If you want to kick up your olives and impress your guests,
this is the recipe for you!

Warm Spicy Citrus Castelvetrano Olives

2 Cups Castelvetrano Olives

6 Garlic Cloves, peeled and sliced thin

1/3 Cup Olive Oil

Zest of one Orange

1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme Leaves

¼ teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes

In a medium skillet, add the olive oil and olives and heat
on medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes.  Add
the red pepper flakes and garlic and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.  Be careful not to have the heat too high or
the garlic will burn.  Right before serving,
add the orange zest and thyme leaves and toss. 
Serve in a bowl and enjoy!

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