Friday, March 26, 2010

O is for . . .

First, I just have to say that there are few subjects sexier or more fun to photograph than olives.  Does that sound crazy?  Seriously, just look at them!  What could be more wonderful than an olive?  When I was a kid, I hated olives, probably because most of the olives available in small-town USA during the 1970's were of the heinous canned variety or the very cheaply bottled variety.  I might as well have been chewing on pencil erasers.  

But then one night at a dinner party in my twenties I tried my first real, imported Kalamata olives.  Oh, what I'd been missing all those years!  This soon led to Gaetas and Alfonsos and Picholines and . . . well, I never looked back.  Olives and I have been in a love affair ever since.  

So in honor of these little gems, I thought I'd share a very simple but beautiful recipe for olive al forno.  The ingredients are few, but the resulting flavors are sophisticated and multi-layered.  That's the beauty of cooking with olives.  This recipe comes from Michele Scicolone's A Fresh Taste of Italy, a book I adore, and I've made this many times with different kinds of olives.  Today I had Kalamatas on hand, and that seemed just right, since they were the ones that started this whole romance for me.  The recipe sings dinner party, cocktail party, movie snack--even kids who don't like olives will probably like this because the olives become velvety and sweet.  Sigh.

Roasted Olives with Fennel & Lemon

8 ounces imported black olives
4 whole garlic cloves, peeled 
1/2 lemon, scrubbed and thinly sliced
1/4 cup of your favorite olive oil
1 teaspoon fennel seed
Pinch of crushed red pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
2. Toss all the ingredients together in an 8-inch baking pan.  Bake for 45 minutes, stirring a few times.
3. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve warm or room temperature, alone or with crusty bread.  In addition to the luscious olives, the lemons taste divine, the garlic is soft and caramelized (sometimes I leave it in its skin before roasting, and then just pop it out and spread it on bread with a little of the leftover oil drizzled over the top).

These keep in the fridge for about a week, but you'll probably eat them all well before that!



  1. Hello Girl,

    I'm an olive lover too! I am definitely going to try your recipe.

    Mouth watering in Carmel,


    P.S. Have you ever tried your hand at curing olives?

  2. That recipe sounds delicious...I think I will try it! Happy weekend, Gigi! xxoo :)

  3. Love, love, love olives, Gigi. I don't really care which ones. I have them as they are, stuffed with anchovies, almonds, peppers, lemons....anything.
    Your recipe sounds delish and I will be making them.
    Thanks for 'O' for olives !!
    Have a wonderfully olive weekend !! XXXX

  4. I was JUST thinking about you, and up pops a post! This sounds heavenly...what a delightful combination of flavors. Will have to try it!

  5. mmm~~divine...must try...I love olives.

  6. And this is a recipe I have to try. We all love olives.

  7. O is for Only you could make an olive look and sound so good. U is for unfortunately I'm the only olive lover in my house. But that's why God created parties!

  8. i've never developed a taste for the fully ripe ones. but i've heard that roasting olives takes them to an even higher level

  9. can you believe that I have never eaten an olive.....they tend to scare me for some reason....the texture, the color....something gets me every time and I have to turn away.....

  10. I just love your beautiful photographs. Yes, I agree there is something sexy about an olive, especially when in a martini.(~.~)Thank you for sharing what sounds and looks like a most delicious recipe. I can't wait to give it a try! By the way, your blog is just gorgeous!

  11. O is for "OOoooooooh, I want those Olives!"
    I LOVE olives. My fridge seems barren without them. I eat olives every day. Yes, the sexiness of oily, glistening, plump olives bursting with flavor! Mmmmh.

  12. Okay...YUM! And is sounds kinda easy! I go to Whole Foods and pass by the olive-bar all the time. Next time I'm grabbing some and trying this.
    Yummy photos too Gigi!

  13. Now that is a VERY sexy way to prepare olives... and yes, olives are very sexy little things! Olives, fennel, lemon...I'm getting weak in the knees here! Funnily enough I used not to like olives as a child either--those nasty, puny things in little jars... But as and adult I've quickly grown to love the real beauty of real olives... Oh, yes... :o) Happy Weekend, Gigi ((HUGS))

  14. 'O' yum!
    thanks so much for this delightful recipe ...
    just getting ready to go for the weekly grocery excursion
    and i am adding olives, fennel and lemons to my list ...
    'chewing on pencil erasers' ~ you crack me up! :)
    awesome post, as always ...
    happy saturday, dear gigi ...
    xo pg xo

  15. i can tell you now: thats going to rock my world. i cant wait. i already have amazing olives and a lemon....oil and yes, even garlic
    must look for fennel seed. i think its in there! woohoo
    cheers, and thanks

  16. this looks yummy! I'll have to make some fresh bread to accompany this!
    thanks for sharing Gigi - hope spring is a happy one for you. I liked your previous post.

  17. Hi Gigi -
    I am new to your beautiful blog and I have so loved looking around. I love your stories, and your fabulous pictures. (LOVE the bicycle header!) And the knitting needles from your flea market posting. Are you a knitter? or just a collector? Knitting is my passion and my blog mostly relates to that---

    You have a great sense of both style and story - this has been a fun place to be for the last hour or so!

    Thanks for sharing some insightful and interesting stories. I look forward to spending some more time here--


  18. I adore olives and this recipe sounds fabulous. The alphabet pictures have been wonderful so far. Great job of ninding something interesting everyday.

  19. Love olives, and love your pictures! I always love those food markets that have big baskets of glistening olives - they do make good photographs I agree. I will have to bookmark and remember your recipe, it sounds delicious!

  20. oh my I love olives for ever and found your blog adorable. I'll have to try the recipe. thx!

  21. Hello~! I'm just over from reading your WONderful piece at Relyn's.

  22. Gigi, this is so funny! I blogged about the same thing last week! My love affair with olives is overwhelming in my late thirties! I hated those things growing up but now, I crave them all the time and I rarely go without eating them during the week. I love the photo--the olives are absolutely sexy! :)

    I've copied the recipe and plan to try it!! It sounds so tasty!! Thanks for sharing....

  23. Congratulations for your blog, it is very beautiful! I love the photo with the two bikes you have on the header, I lovde vintage as well. Regards from a novice blogger from Madrid!

  24. Gigi, I plan to send you some giveaway chocolate, just the thing to have after these lovely lemony olives. Would you be able to let me know what your postal address is?

  25. Found you via Mise's blog, lucky you getting yummy chocolate. Lovely blog with smashing pics. Love your header btw too

  26. This sounds simple and yummy. Have to try it!

  27. i have just found you... and soooo happy i did... this receipe sounds like heaven ... have a great week xx

  28. Gigi,
    We LOVE olives! Yes, we do! The crumb insists on Kalamatas daily! And I want to know more about your cooking life before teaching....are you self taught or did you go to culinary school?
    After reading Jackie's post on Miss Dahl's book, I requested a copy for my upcoming birthday in April. Well, sometimes wishes come true early because the VERY next day, my dear friend left me a copy on my front door step! And she didn't even know I had put this on my list! Seriously, I believe that when you put a thought out there someone, somewhere, hears it. I'm going to cuddle up with it later this week when we go out of town. I'm so excited! I read cookbooks just like a read a novel...from beginning to end (and never peeking in between).
    Have a wonderful week!

  29. This recipe sounds so delicious and simple enough even for me to try. Yum - I love olives too.

  30. O for Oooooh! Delicious!

    My story with Olves is similar to yours Gigi, and I too have never looked back. All my children have adored them from the time they could eat! And they often don't even make it home from the market! Devoured...

    Will definitely try your recipe!

  31. Just found your blog, its great! - this sounds yummy! I think I will give it a try.


  32. LOL! olive porn! i have always loved olives...and really can't understand people who hate them. maybe they only had those canned kind...

    xoxo alison

  33. The farm next door to us grows olives and presses the most divine oil - I wait in anticipation for the next harvest which is only a few weeks away. Long live the wonderful olive! Leigh

  34. perfect hostess gift as well~
    "O" for O'my O'my...deliciousss...


  35. Oh I know what you mean about olives and looking sexy! What a beautiful recipe...must try it.

    I missed your last post so had a catch up...take care my sweet.
    ps that was so funny about the joke and missing punchline!

  36. Heehee...pencil erasers!

    At Christmas, when I was young, we would go over to my grandparent's house for dinner and there would be a HUGE platter overflowing with olives that the entire family would fight over (in a loving sort of way)...all except me. And my mom. We didn't get it. I still have a hard time with olives, but you have made them look so incredibly tasty here!! Maybe I should try a different kind? Other than just the normal black olives?

  37. I can never get to the olives in my house as the kids get to them before me ... My father in law is Italian, my mother in law is French with Spanish origins and they both live in Provence - could this be the reason? Who knows - I'm going to knock their socks off with this recipe. First they had to try just-cooked broccoli, now olives baked with lemons MMMMMMM

  38. Oh, what sensual photos! And that recipe! I don't have time to cook much, but my mom does and she loves fixing up olives, so I am sending her your recipe and maybe I'll get some

  39. Girl, you just made my day with the recipe! One of my New Years Resolutions was to try one new recipe a month and guess what?... this is going to be my April recipe!! Thanks girl! Oh, and lovin' your blog :-)

  40. Geej- I'm making these this weekend. They sound SO marvelous I can't even get over it. That bottom pic you shot makes me want some RIGHT. NOW. Maybe I'll serve them with toasted crusty desert sourdough and jalapeño martinis for sundown cocktails!


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