Olives and oranges are often combined in foods of the Mediterranean. Here the ingredients almost call out their location as foods of Morocco and Spain are joined to create a great nibble at cocktail parties, as a part of a meze or tapas assortment.
On Tu Bishvat it is customary to eat foods containing the seven species and to bless them. These are wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, dates, and olives. Although not mentioned in Deuteronomy, almonds also figure prominently in this celebration, as they are the first tree to flower in Israel at that time of year.
8 ounces garlic-stuffed green olives, drained
1 medium orange
1 teaspoon dried pepper flakes
1 tablespoon finely snipped cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (pimentón de la Vera) or sweet paprika
1–2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, preferably Spanish or Italian
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice (optional)
- Place drained olives in a 1-quart glass bowl.
- Remove the zest, or peel, from the oranges with a zester, creating long thin strands. Add to the olives.
- Add the remaining ingredients and stir to coat olives well. If olives appear too dry, add 1 tablespoon of fresh orange juice to the mixture.
- Return olives to their original container and chill, preferably overnight.
- Serve as part of a mixed platter of mezes with wine and cheese.
- In general, I prefer the fine, featherlight shards of orange peel (or zest) that you get from using a rasplike grater. However, in this recipe the zest is used for color and variety of shape in addition to being a flavor enhancement.
- A zester is a 5-inch tool with a slightly curved metal head that has five or six holes at the top that create strands of citrus peel when scraped along the fruit.
- If garlic-stuffed olives are not available, pitted olives may be substituted, with 2 large, finely diced cloves of garlic added to the mix.