Orange Rosemary Marinated Olives

I think one of the best things about the fact that I do most of my grocery shopping online via the wonder that is Fresh Direct, is that it helps me resist temptation. Because if I actually physically walk into a Whole Foods or a Fairway or any other "gourmet" supermarket, you can bet that I'm going to walk out of it with several bagfuls of ridiculousness.

The antipasti and cheese counters are where I seem to get into the most trouble, as I sample and sniff and place one luxurious thing into my basket after another.

"Why, yes, I DO need this imported marinated Moroccan olive mix!"

"Organic whipped avocado salsa spread? Yes, please!"

"Hand-crafted local artisan elephant milk* ricotta? I'll take 2!"

And then I get home and realize that I didn't buy the eggs I needed and that elephant milk is actually gross and that there is really only so much coconut chia kefir that a girl can drink in a week.

Sidenote: I wrote "elephant milk" because I wanted to pick something that sounded hyperbolic and ridiculous, but then I decided to Google it to see if it's a thing, and yes. It's a thing. But apparently it's rare because elephants aren't easy to milk. So now you know that.

Anyway, the other thing that drives me crazy about that part of the store is that I usually get home and realize that I actually could have easily made whatever it was I bought myself for a fraction of the price.

Hence this recipe. Marinated olives are a favorite of mine for both snacking on and entertaining, but there is no reason to purchase ready made varieties (no matter how exotic and alluring the handwritten descriptions at the olive bar sound).

It literally takes 5 minutes of prep to make them and you can do it well in advance (a God-send when hosting a party). The flavorful oil these marinate in is so good that you can serve it by itself with bread for dipping or even drizzle it over goat cheese for another delicious starter.

Three appetizers in one. So thrifty and useful.

The flavor combination below is my favorite, but you can of course have fun and play around with this recipe. Use lemon zest or sage, thyme, or even vanilla beans and honey for something sweet and salty.

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Orange Rosemary Marinated Olives
Makes about 1 quart

1 3/4 cups extra virgin olive oil
Peel of one large navel orange, cut into thick strips
1 large sprig rosemary, cut into 3" pieces
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 teaspoon red chile flakes (optional; you can replace with black peppercorns for less spice)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups green olives, drained (such as castelvetrano or cerignola olives)

In a small saucepan, heat oil over low heat, just until bubble start to form on the outside. Add the orange peel, garlic, red chile, and salt, and let simmer for 2 minutes before removing from the stove. Place olives in a large jar or air-tight container and pour in the warm oil mixture. Let cool at room temperature before sealing and refrigerate. Best prepared at least 8 hours in advance, but can also be stored in the refrigerator for up to several weeks. The longer it sits, the better and more intense the flavors will become. Serve at room temperature along with bread for dipping. 

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