Tangy Fennel and Orange Marinated Olives
I love to start a party with marinated olives. They make a light and healthy finger food that doesn’t leave your guests too full to enjoy their meal.
When my guests arrive, I love to have lots of small dishes of nibbles to place around the living room. That way, as we all relax over welcome drinks, there are also small bites to take the edge off everyone’s hunger.
As great as this strategy is, it can also be a slippery slope. You don’t want your guests suffering from starvation. Neither should they eat so much they can no longer face the meal. If that were the plan, you would have had a mezze or tapas party instead of a dinner invitation!
I’ve found that an assortment of spiced nuts and marinated vegetables works nicely. It allows my guests to nibble, while at the same time leaving them with an appetite for the meal.
Nowadays, most of us have friends and family members with dietary restrictions of one sort or another. Vegan appetisers, such as these, are terrific because they can be enjoyed by just about everyone. As a host, this is an added plus.
A few years ago, while I was on a business trip to Washington, DC, a friend invited me to dinner at a lovely Italian bistro in Georgetown. Unfortunately, the meal itself wasn’t memorable. However, the olives, which were placed on the table as we ordered, were extraordinary.
Bursts of garlic, chilis, and zesty orange made a beautiful accompaniment to the briny deliciousness of the olives themselves. I have long retained this taste memory and wanted to recreate it in my own kitchen.
However, I kept missing the correct formula by degrees. When I tried adding citrus juice to the olives, it was too juicy. I either wound up with too much or too little fennel. Finally, I’ve got a recipe that is a pretty good approximation of those memorable olives. It hits all the right flavour notes.
I hope you serve these olives to guests over the holidays and that they find them just as memorable as I did. Bon appétit!