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.