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Warm Spiced Olives

This is the best kind of recipe: simple, warm, fragrant and delicious. Like Fried Almonds with Rosemary, it starts with something nice that is easy to pick up at the market. Then, with only a few ingredients and within just a few minutes, kicks it up a notch and makes it personal.

Olives make a wonderful appetizer. They are relatively low in calories and high in phytonutrients, antioxidants and other beneficial qualities. From the deli or olive bar they are delicious just as they are. I have eaten them like that for years, enjoying olives straight from the container. Though I know they also add a nice note to many warm entrees I never thought of serving warmed olives as an appetizer.

Leave it to Martha. Looking through a back issue of Martha Stewart Living I found this gem of a recipe on the recipe card page. I followed the concept and list of ingredients while changing the quantities and directions somewhat. I left the seed spices whole and cooked them a little longer before adding about half as many olives as the recipe called for. I love toasty bits of rosemary and the crunch of whole fennel and coriander seeds adorning each gently warmed olive.

These olives are completely delightful as a party snack or pre-dinner nibble. Gently warmed the olives are meltingly tender and infused with a lingering aftertaste of warm chiles and sweet fennel. Remember to have a few breadsticks or chucks of crusty French bread on hand to mop up any of the warm spicy oil and seeds left over once the olives are gone.

Bonus: Your kitchen will smell fantastic!

Warm Spiced Olives
slightly adapted from a recipe in Martha Stewart Living

1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 small dried red chiles
Leaves from 1 rosemary sprig, (about 1 Tablespoon)
½ teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
½ teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
1-2 cups mixed olives, rinsed and patted dry

Heat oil, chiles, rosemary, fennel seeds, and coriander seeds in a medium skillet over medium heat until fragrant and starting to brown, about 3-5 minutes.

Reduce heat to low, and add olives. Stir to coat.

Heat olives, stirring occasionally, until warmed, about 5-10 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

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