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.