Until 7 years ago, olives were no friend of mine. As a kid, olives arrived on pizza, besmirching the entire pie with their essence. I finally came around to olives when I was going to school and working in Italy. That first meaty, sweet, bright green Castelvetrano olive changed everything and the next thing you know I was popping Cerignola, Taggiasca, Gaeta and Kalamatas like candy. If you’re unsure about olives, try a Castelvetrano and see if it doesn’t change your mind – and while it may help to be looking out on the Italian countryside, it isn’t a requirement.
I love making huge platters when I entertain, overflowing with charcuterie, nuts, grilled vegetables and baked olives. Citrus baked olives are always a part of our big gatherings because they are so easy to throw together and use simple ingredients we usually have on hand. Any type of whole olive or citrus fruit will do but I love the combination of blood orange, thyme, and rosemary with a spicy hit of pepper flakes. Baking the olives softens their intensity and renders them completely addictive.