Sparklers, snifters, on the rocks and up: Cocktail-party season is here, and its festive drinks need a smart bite or two. To that end, Chicago chef Tony Mantuano's olives are stuffed with orange segments and marinated in fennel, oregano and basil. At Bar Toma, he suggests pairing the rich olives with a dry, sparkling wine. Other recommended options: Nosh on the olives by themselves, nibble on them alongside croquetas, deviled eggs or devils on horseback, or drop them into a dry martini. Cheers to versatility.
Orange-Stuffed OlivesRecipe adapted from Tony Mantuano, Bar Toma, Chicago
Yield: 1 1/2 cups olives
Cook Time: 1 day refrigeration
1 medium orange
1½ cups Mt. Athos or other large green olives, pitted
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1¾ cups extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chile flakes
½ tablespoon fresh oregano, leaves removed and finely chopped
2 tablespoons torn fresh basil
2 tablespoons olive brine
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Cut the top and bottom off the orange, exposing the flesh. Stand the orange on one end and, following the curve of the fruit, slice away the peel and a little flesh. Save the peel for the marinade. Using a paring knife, slice between the membranes and release the orange segments. Work over a bowl to save the juice and squeeze the membrane to release any additional juice. Discard the membrane and save the juice for the marinade.
2. Stuff the pitted olives with orange segments, place in a covered container and set aside.
3. In a medium skillet set over medium heat, toast the fennel seeds, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Thinly slice the reserved orange peel. In a medium bowl, combine the toasted fennel seeds with the reserved orange juice, orange peel, olive oil, chile flakes, oregano, basil and olive brine. Remove the cover from the container with the olives in it and pour the marinade over the olives. Cover and store in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours before serving. The olives can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
4. To serve, place the olives in a bowl and season with salt and black pepper.
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