Saturday, December 13, 2014

DIY Holiday - Fig, Chile, and Orange Marinated Olives

There is something about gifting delicious food in beautiful packaging that just makes it feel like Christmas.  It's easy to walk into any store and buy presents, but making hand-crafted, handmade treats is so much less work than one might think.  It's not hard...or time-consuming...or expensive.  All you need is a strategy, a game-plan, and a few recipes.

I am a particular fan of marinated olives.  On the one hand, they make pretty gifts in jars.  On the other hand, and much more importantly, they are delicious.  This recipe was inspired by a taste memory inspired by the fantastic Holland House Bar and Refuge in Nashville, Tennessee.  If you are in town, I definitely recommend making a reservation.  In the meantime, get to marinating olives.  They are positively addictive

1 tsp fermented chile paste (if you have it, otherwise, bottled Asian chile paste)
The zest of two oranges
2 c. pulp-free orange juice
12 dried calimyrna figs, chopped
2 T. sugar
2 T. Sriracha
1/2 tsp salt
16 oz good olive oil
5 c. whole Castelvetrano olives
1/2 c. whole, blanched almonds

Combine the first seven ingredients in a large capacity pot.
Bring to a boil and reduce for about 10 minutes or until it starts to look syrupy.

Once the sauce has reduced to your desired consistency, stir in oil and olives.

Return to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Cook uncovered for about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in almonds.

Olives can be served immediately, but will benefit from a few days storage in the marinade.  Be sure to keep in the refrigerator.


I like to buy large cans of olives on Amazon.  While in my alternate, perfect world I might buy these directly from the growers in glass jars, I live in Indiana, and this is the best source I have found.  I particularly like these unpitted green olives, because they are delicious on their own and have no additional seasoning in the brine.  ALERT:  these olives are only $25 for approximately 8 dry cups.  This is beyond affordable.

I also buy the almonds on Amazon.  I burned too much gas and far too much time driving around Indy, trying to find them.  You can buy a full pound (which is many times over what you need) for $15. 

As for the figs, I bought them at Costco.  In our house, we LOVE figs.  I have no trouble using up the wholesale-size bag.  Two pounds run around $10-15.


Packaging beautiful food is easy when you have clear glass jars.  The bright green of the olives plays against the earthy oil brine and needs little embellishment.  I like to cut rounds of my favorite wrapping paper to the size of the lids and simply place it between the lid and ring.  You don't need glue, tape, or anything else.  The ring secures it just fine.  Then, if I'm feeling fancy, I might wrap hemp or other twine around the jar and add a sturdy cardboard gift tag.  Be sure to let your giftees know they will need to keep the olives in the refrigerator.

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