Mar 31, 2010

Roasted olives

On Tuesdays my farmer friend and agriculture guru Franco sells his produce on a small makeshift stall at my local produce market. He drives his minivan 25 Km from his coastal country farm, delivering us freshness and health once a week, all year long. This is as local and organic as it gets.
As I walk up and elbow my way to the front of Franco's crowded display of vegetables, fruits, flowers and freshly laid eggs, I notice the hand painted sign. It reads: "Open on Wed-Thur-Sat too. Thank you, spring."

And indeed I see why Franco has decided to triple his effort, the bounty on sale is virtually amazing. Baby spring zucchini topped with plush flowers, redolent red peppers, slender aubergines, bright green cratefuls of garden greens–trimmed and already washed, juicy cherry tomatoes the size of a fingernail, fave, chickory, deep purple artichokes, the very last puntarelle of the season, asparagus, radicchio tardivo; and then crisp apples, the curiously fuzzy local kiwi variety, blood oranges and stout pears, warming in the sun.
When it's my turn finally, Franco smiles, snaps a pod and shells me a tiny handful of exquisite fresh baby peas. The sweet, green seeds explode in my mouth bringing back forgotten sensory memories.

Needless to say, even if Franco will be around the neighborhood more often, I ended up buying a large weekly supply of fruits and vegetables. I usually never shop with a list in mind, I just let the ingredients at hand inspire me.

So besides the produce and the bunch of lilacs that now make my house smell like paradise, I also bought some of Franco's homemade roasted black olives.

I soaked them in water and rinsed them well, letting them drip dry.
Tossed them in a bowl with a little olive oil, cracked black pepper, a wee pinch of salt and omitted the peperoncino flakes I usually add to the dressing, because my son wanted to taste them. 

Then I chopped in a slice of mandarin orange complete with its rind, and skewered a fork in the largest clove of garlic I could find, and used that to stir.


I then let the whole thing marinate for a few hours and later enjoyed a delicious aperitivo of zesty citrus-flavored roasted olives with a glass of Lacrima di Morro d'Alba, a lovely red wine from Le Marche region.

The bread is still warm. Birds chirp and the sun is shining.

 Image © Muffet

As Franco so plainly puts it–thank you, spring.


  1. the wonderous smells i imgaine...
    thank you spring...

  2. Thank you spring and thank you Lola for an early morning delight to wake up to.

  3. In the northern states, we are having an early spring - the first in many years. The roasted olives made my heart sing.

  4. I've always wanted to see zucchini flowers ever since a scene in The Sopranos where the Italian restaranteur offers them up as a delicacy. Perhaps one day - but probably in Italy not here.


  5. Lovely! Thank you Spring, and thank you Eleonora for these appetizing sights.

    Buona Pasqua a te e al tuo amore.

  6. Ah! Stirring with the skewered garlic clove is a great idea. I love the taste of garlic, but it can be far too much raw. Presumably this method just gives a whisper of taste without the burning hit of biting into a piece of raw garlic.

    I too have a mobile veg man who comes round every day except Sundays. Like you, I don't really go by a list, but by what looks good that day. I currently have crisp savoy cabbage, crunchy orange carrots, deliciously bitter cime di rape and sweeter-than-sweet cherry tomatoes. Oh, and an aubergine, all ready to make into aubergine crumble. (I *finally* remembered to get it yesterday!)

  7. What a delicious post! And the photos. Thank you spring, you made me smile and enjoy life.

  8. Ah, lilacs. One of my absolute favorite fragrances!

  9. Yum, olives sound delicious done like that must try sometime with some of ours.

  10. And thank you for making my mouth water with these beautiful descriptions. Alas, there is no Franco in my neighborhood though there are some pretty nice farmer's markets here in northern California.

  11. Lola, I'm salivating and turning green here! Green with envy, that is! It will be May here before lilac comes out, and fresh veggies are thin on the ground too- though snow isn't!
    BUT, I can go to my local Italian shop and get some olives and fresh bread tomorrow!

  12. Oops, forgot to say, your description of the peas was fab, reminded me of eating them at my aunt's house in my childhood. Yum!

  13. Lilacs and black interesting combo, but I like it! smiles.

  14. Sounds mighty fine to me... as does most everything appearing in these pages... Not far from heaven.

  15. Beautifully written and you've made me terribly homesick, oh to have a roasted olive and our veggie van that brings all these surprises straight to our village...

  16. Hi Lola

    what a lovely post, I followed you around the market looking at the fresh fruits and veges and adoring the pretty now on your windowsill...

    Happy days

  17. The lacrima is one of my favourite Italian wines.

  18. Thank you all, my darling friends, for your visit and for taking the time to drop me a line.

    I'll reply individually on your pages soon.

    Eleonora/Lola xx

  19. I was so busy going on about the zucchini flowers I forgot to read the olive recipe - I love olives - 10 olives is one weight watchers point (gosh, I'm getting boring)

  20. thank you sweet friend for the lovliest spring post of all. i could hear the birds chirping. :)

    xxx lori

  21. Ciao FF! Is one WW point good? I forget, how many are you allowed in one day? Hope you can splurge on olives and some warm bread...

    Lori sweet mermaid, I'm so happy you enjoyed getting a taste of Roman spring. Hugs

  22. our family has a huge olive addiction - even our little guys. While living overseas, we found a wonderful Turkish deli that had the most amazing marinated olives - loaded with EVOO and spices. I spent a fortune on them weekly! Now if I could figure out how to do them the way, fun blog page!

  23. Sweet European Dreams, welcome to AO&P. This is the first marinated olive recipe I'm posting, but if you stick around there may be more coming!
    Turks use fantastic spices like pink pepper, maras pul biber, urfa isot, turkish mint... Unique cooking spices that lend that middle eastern flavor. EVOO rocks!

  24. delicious and delightful!

    --Buona Pasqua Lola!

  25. Thank you Bob & Rosemary, Buona Pasqua 2U2!!! Baci

  26. Lola, I presume you soak the olives in water to remove the salty brine? Yet, you add a pinch of salt later ... am I understanding the reason for soaking?


  27. Chuck, no the soak is to rid the olives of unwanted pollutants, dust or pollen that may have gathered in the basket where they were displayed on the vendor's stall. The reason why I add a little bit of salt is because it gets lost in the soak.
    These olives are oven roasted, so much of the brine has evaporated anyway.
    They are soooo yummy.

    Ciao Carlo!

  28. What a wonderful blog you have. I love the photography and your topics and recipes are amazing. Glad to see someone who enjoys the fine things that make life interesting as much as I do! If you have a chance please take a peak at my blog!


  29. my friend at work in Rome used to make these olives for me-your post brought back a lot of memories of a city i miss and love. and Lacrima di Morro d'Alba- a wine i adore, too. beautiful photos.