I'm a big fan of making a spiced olive mix rather than buying one. It's so easy, and you can control the spice levels and aromatics.
To start, buy good-quality olives with the pits still in. Then all you have to do is infuse some olive oil with aromatics (I like fresh bay leaves, garlic and citrus peels). Pour the warm olive oil over the olives and let them marinate for a few hours. For added texture and spice, toast some coriander and fennel seeds and lightly crush them before tossing them into the olives.
And there you have it: a briny, salty, addictive snack that took almost no effort at all.
To learn more, read "Before Midnight."
Spiced Olive Mix
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 3 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes, plus marinating time
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes, plus marinating time
3 cups mixed olives (such as Picholines, Lucques, Niçoise and Castelvetrano) with pits in
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Three 3-inch strips of orange peel, peeled using a vegetable peeler
Three 2-inch strips of lemon peel, peeled using a vegetable peeler
3 fresh bay leaves
1 small head of garlic, split in half
2 teaspoons whole fennel seeds, toasted and crushed
1 tablespoon whole coriander, toasted and crushed
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1. Place the olives in a mixing bowl.
2. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the olive oil, orange peel, lemon peel, bay leaves and garlic. Cook until the garlic has lightly browned and the oil has become fragrant, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the oil to continue to infuse for an hour. Discard the garlic.
3. Pour the infused oil, as well as the fennel seeds, coriander and red pepper flakes, over the olives and toss to coast. Marinate at room temperature for 2 hours or cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.