Recipe: Nicoise Olives with Rosemary

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In this recipe, Nicoise olives are marinated in flavorful rosemary oil with masses of rosemary leaves, a simple technique that imparts a wonderful flavor to the olives. They make a perfect instant hors d'oeuvre with chilled wine or cocktails.

This recipe yields more rosemary oil than you will need to flavor the olives. It is an extremely versatile oil that can be used in salad dressings, on vegetables, ripe tomatoes and roasted peppers, pasta, mashed or baked potatoes, to fry eggs, to drizzle on focaccia and grilled bread, and in soups and vegetable stews.

Makes about 4 cups

    • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh rosemary sprigs (pulled off the branches)
    • 1 pound Nicoise olives, drained and rinsed
    • Freshly ground black pepper

In a small heavy saucepan, heat the oil over moderate heat until hot. The oil is hot enough when a rosemary sprig frizzles when dropped into the oil. Reduce the heat to low. Add the rosemary sprigs and cook about 2 minutes until the oil is very fragrant. Remove the pan from the heat and let the oil steep at least 10 minutes before using.

Strain the oil into a small bowl. Press the rosemary sprigs with the back of a spoon to extract any oil.

Place the olives in a medium bowl. Add the rosemary sprigs and 2 to 3 teaspoons of the flavored oil to the olives and toss to coat. Add fresh pepper to taste and pack the olives and rosemary in clean, dry jars.

The olives and oil will keep about 3 weeks in the refrigerator.

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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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