When I am at , nine times out of ten, I make my way to the olive bar. They house one of the best selections in the Bay Area of olives without having to venture to a specialty shop in San Francisco. One of my absolute favorites is the Castelvetrano Olive. It is grown exclusively in western Sicily among the Belice river valley, near the town of Castelvetrano. The prime time for harvesting is the beginning of October through mid November.
Contrary to popular belief, this olive is not actually cured, but goes through a similar process as to the California style black ripe olives. The olive is washed in lye, or caustic soda for up to 12 hours. It takes the bitterness out of the olive and then it is continually washed in fresh water to remove the lye. Then it is either refrigerated or canned. This process produces an intense green color and sweet flavor profile. A great pairing to this beautiful olive is parmesan-reggiano, mozzarella, marcona almonds and Genoa salami.
I wanted to create a quick recipe that was packed with flavor we could enjoy for our Friday Night Bites. Hubby doesn’t like anything with a pit or bones, so luckily Whole Foods had the pitted version of the Castelvetrano olive. The idea of serving warm olives with garlic, citrus, spicy red pepper and fresh thyme simply resonated with me. The flavor combination was simply divine, fresh and a perfect little bite. I actually serve with a small fork so you can get the different bits of flavor in one bite. The zest of the orange and lightly toasted slice of garlic with a fleck of spicy red pepper was a wonderful treat for my mouth. If you want to kick up your olives and impress your guests, this is the recipe for you!
Warm Spicy Citrus Castelvetrano Olives
2 Cups Castelvetrano Olives
6 Garlic Cloves, peeled and sliced thin
1/3 Cup Olive Oil
Zest of one Orange
1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme Leaves
¼ teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
In a medium skillet, add the olive oil and olives and heat on medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and garlic and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Be careful not to have the heat too high or the garlic will burn. Right before serving, add the orange zest and thyme leaves and toss. Serve in a bowl and enjoy!