Here, the olives' flavor is enhanced by marinating, then grilling, them. The two-step process makes them a dynamic and interesting snack.
You'll need a grilling basket, and you'll need to soak 1 cup of applewood chips in water for an hour.
Make Ahead: The olives need to marinate for a day or two at room temperature.
- 2 cups mixed olives (pitted or unpitted)
- Zest and juice of 1 orange, zest first removed in large strips using a vegetable peeler
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- One 3-inch cinnamon stick
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Combine the olives, orange zest and juice, fennel seed, thyme sprigs and cinnamon stick in a medium bowl. Cover and marinate for a day or two at room temperature, stirring every now and then to make sure the olives are coated.
Prepare the grill for direct heat. If using a gas grill, preheat to low (300 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them under the cooking area for direct heat. Drain the applewood chips and distribute them on the coals. You should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for about 6 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames. Grease a grill basket with cooking oil spray.
Remove the thyme sprigs and cinnamon stick from the olives and reserve them.
Spread the olives in the grill basket. Cook for about 5 minutes; they will sizzle and begin to caramelize. Move the basket away from direct heat just far enough to add the cinnamon stick and thyme sprigs to the fire, then return the basket to its original spot. Close the grill lid and let the olives smoke for about 5 minutes.
Transfer the olives to a serving bowl. Drizzle with the oil; serve right away.
Adapted from "Where There's Smoke: Simple, Sustainable, Delicious Grilling," by Barton Seaver (Sterling Epicure, 2013).
Tested by Toni L. Sandys.
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