Recipe: Crushed Olives with Herbs

In addition to being a great seasoning for lamb, this paste, made of coarsely crushed olives with lemon and herbs, also makes a great tapenade-like hors d'oeuvre spooned onto toasted peasant bread. (Scale back the herbs if you're using the same herbs on the lamb). A few dried currants pounded in with the olives makes a nice counterpoint of flavor.

If you are in a hurry, use 3/4 cup prepared olive paste instead of the olive-herb mixture; brighten the flavor with a little lemon juice, zest, and minced fresh thyme or rosemary.

Makes about ¾ cup.

    • Scant 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
    • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
    • 3/4 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
    • 3/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
    • Pinch salt
    • 1 1/4 cups (1/2 pound) pitted, ripe, brine-cured black olives, such as Calamata or Gaeta, coarsely chopped
    • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

In a mortar, pound together the garlic, thyme, rosemary, lemon zest, and a pinch of the salt. Gradually add the olives and the olive oil. Pound to a coarse paste. Alternatively, combine these ingredients in a food processor, pulsing to a chunky mash.

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Sally Schneider writes The Improvised Life, a lifestyle blog about improvising as a daily practice. Her cookbook The Improvisational Cook is now out in paperback. More

Sally Schneider is the founder of The Improvised Life, a lifestyle blog that inspires you to devise, invent, create, make it up as you go along, from design and cooking to cultivating the creative spirit. It's been called a "zeitgeist-perfect website." She is a regular contributor to public radio's The Splendid Table and the author of the best-selling cookbooks The Improvisational Cook and A New Way to Cook, which was recently named one of the best books of the decade by The Guardian. She has won numerous awards, including four James Beard awards, for her books and magazine writing.

Sally has worked as a journalist, editor, stylist, lecturer, restaurant chef, teacher, and small-space consultant, and once wrangled 600 live snails for the photographer Irving Penn. Her varied work has been the laboratory for the themes she writes and lectures about: improvising as an essential operating principle; cultivating resourcefulness and your inner artist; design, style, and food; and anything that is cost-effective, resourceful, and outside the box.

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