Warm Citrus & Spiced Olives

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If you’ve been invited for lunch or dinner at a Greek home then you’re likely to see olives also served on the table. There are literally hundreds of olive varietals and when it comes to Greece, some olive trees that were planted in the thirteenth century are still producing!

Did you know that Kalamata olives are a PDO product? A PDO product is one protected by the EU and awarded to agricultural and foodstuff products from a geographical area with specific know-how. Kalamata is located in the southwestern tip of the Peloponnese (Messinia).

The other two olives in this mix are also PDO products: one being the Thassos “throumba” salt-cured olive. This briny black olive is all wrinkly with no acid in the flavour profile. Thassos is a lush green island (once again with forests after the 1987 fires) located in eastern Macedonia near the city of Kavala.

The third olive in this easy meze dish is the Halkidiki olive, a new addition to Greece’s ever-growing list of PDO products. These larger green olives are usually cracked then soaked in water until the bitterness is drawn out and then brined before heading to market. Together these three olives offer something for everyone at the table and the flavouring touches on salt, acid, some heat from the mustard seeds, some exotica with the coriander seeds, sweetness from the citrus and savory with bay and rosemary.

Warm Citrus & Spiced Olives

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, smashed

2-3 bay leaves

2 strips of orange peel

2 strips of lemon peel

1 tsp. of coriander seeds

1/2 tsp. mustard seeds

2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary

1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves

1/2 cup Kalamata olives

1/2 cup green Halkidiki olives

1/2 cup salt-cured black olives (Thassos or Halkidiki)

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

a squeeze of orange juice

  1. In a large skillet, add your olive oil, lemon & orange peels, garlic and bay leaves over medium-low heat and as soon as the garlic begins to turn colour, add the rosemary sprigs, thyme, olives, coriander and mustard seeds and stir to coat and simmer for 5 minutes or so. The wine vinegar will sweeten as it is reduced.
  2. Adjust flavouring (more olive oil, herbs) and finish with a bright squeeze of orange juice. Allow to cool to warm and then serve or allow to cool and just re-heat before serving.

© 2012,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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5 Comments for “Warm Citrus & Spiced Olives”


I’ve been looking for a recipe like this after discovering Halkidiki olives at, of all places, Whole Foods, where they sell a marinated version that is great!


In Lebanon too every meal starts with olives and olive trees are present everywhere; just had some olives yesterday served with a tomato relish, yum. Love the combo of citrus and olives the best and this is a great recipe for it. Thanks!