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Tangy Olives Spread Goes Nicely With Sparkling Wine

by Andrea Clurfeld,

Can you believe the amazing selection of olives we enjoy today at both area specialty markets and better supermarkets? It�s a brave new olive world in our area.

I was at Dearborn Farms in Holmdel the other day and I couldn�t resist buying pounds and pounds of Greek, Italian and French olives from the olive bar � black ones, purple ones, green ones, gigantic olives, tiny olives. At Sickles Market in Little Silver, at the A&P in Wall, at the Acme on Route 9 in Freehold Township, I found more, more, more olives and I bought, bought, bought.

Suddenly, I had an olive crisis at my house: They�d taken over my fridge and I couldn�t fit in the broccoli, lemons and juices that needed refrigeration. I popped as many olives into my mouth as I could eat in one sitting, then figured I�d better get pitting.

What I did with many of my pitted olives might interest you on New Year�s Eve as you pop a cork on your bubbly: I made a tangy olive spread that proved the perfect partner for sparkling wine. Champagne, or any form of bubbly (think prosecco and cava, especially), loves foods that are salty; those bubbles, that fizziness, serve to tame the salt. It�s always about balance, food-and-wine pairings, and this one�s a ringer. Happy New Year!


Olive oil to film skillet

  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed through a press

  • 2 tablespoons currants, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes and drained

  • Zest and juice from 1 fresh orange

  • 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley leaves

  • 1 tablespoon minced chives or finely minced shallots

  • 3 cups mixed good-quality olives, pitted

  • About 1/4 of a cup extra-virgin olive oil

Warm the olive oil in a small skillet set over medium heat. Stir in the garlic and cook for a minute, till it starts to soften. Stir in the currants, the zest and juice from the orange, and cook till the juice thickens and starts to reduce. Stir in the parsley and chives or shallots, cook 2 minutes more, then remove the skillet from the heat and let cool slightly.

In a food processor or blender, pulse the garlic-currant mixture with the olives three or four times. Gradually add the olive oil, pulsing as you go, until the mixture is well blended, but not pureed. The idea is to have the spread be a little chunky and textured. If you prefer a thicker spread, you may not use all the olive oil. Cover and keep at room temperature for a few hours to allow the flavors to meld. The olive spread also can be refrigerated for several days, brought to room temperature, then served. Makes about 3 cups spread. Serve on toasted slices of baguettes or country-style bread.


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