Gifts you can eat
Savoury treats to please a crowd
It is that time of year when we gather meaningful gifts to give to friends, family and our community. Edible gifts are a great option and generally well received. These often fall under the sweet category – chocolate truffles, spiced cookies, nougat and the like. I have shared quite a number of sweet edible gift recipes over the years, so instead I am focusing on savoury this gifting season, with olives as the hero.
Combine these little jars of olive goodness with some seed crackers (homemade version included below) and a NZ-produced cheese for an edible gift package. Or maybe you want to save these to share with guests at your own table. They are both delicious on a grazing platter or for pre-dinner nibbles.
The ingredients can be found at most supermarkets. I visited a Mediterranean food store, as it has a bigger selection of olives in larger quantities. You can buy small jars for the purpose, or I like to collect little and interesting jars we have accumulated over the year. Give them a good clean, remove the label and they are ready to go.
Garlic herb marinated olives
These jars of marinated olives are quick to prepare, and can be flavoured as you like. I enjoy the clean taste of woody herbs such as thyme and rosemary, with pungent garlic and lemon zest. In regards to the chilli addition, you don’t want this to knock your socks off. It should be more of a gentle hum, so add to taste. I like to use mild chilli flakes – aleppo is my favourite for its subtle smoky taste while not being overly spicy. I used unpitted olives, as they hold their shape well, but pitted olives can also be used. I just don’t recommend rubbery black olives for this preparation.
Prep time: 20 minutes Makes about 4 x 200ml jars
■ 4 tbsp olive oil
■ sprig each of fresh rosemary, thyme and oregano, finely chopped
■ 3-4 cloves of garlic, finely grated or chopped
■ 4 strips of lemon zest
■ ½-1 tsp chilli flakes – see recipe headnote
■ 500g jar kalamata olives, drained
■ 500g jar whole green olives, drained
■ Squeeze of lemon juice, about 2 tsp
1. Have your jars washed, dried and ready to go.
2. Pour the olive oil into a saucepan. Add the flavourings – herbs, garlic, lemon zest and chilli. Heat over a low heat for about 5 minutes until fragrant. This step warms and infuses the oil while not cooking the additions.
3. Remove from the heat, add the olives and toss to combine. Add lemon juice to taste and leave to cool.
4. Pack the cooled olives into the jars, distributing the lemon zest evenly. Label the jars and refrigerate. The olives will continue to marinate over a few days and improve the flavour.
5. Best served at room temperature with bread and dips. Consume within 2 weeks.
Fig & walnut olive tapenade with seed crispbreads
Olive tapenade is a flavour bomb to serve with crackers and cheese, or it can be stirred through pasta. Here, I have skipped the anchovies, as they aren’t everyone’s favourite, but if you are making this for an anchovy lover, then add to taste – about 2-3 should be enough. The crispbreads come together easily and are something fun to serve on a platter, broken into shards. The sumac spice is an optional addition – it adds a herbaceous sour flavour. Find it at some supermarkets and specialty food stores.
Note: If your figs are particularly tough, they won’t blend easily. To soften them first, chop into 1cm pieces, place into a sieve, and slowly pour over a cup of boiling water to soften. Drain well.
Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 20-22 minutes Makes 2-3 small jars
■ 1 ½ cups (about 250g) kalamata olives, stones removed
■ 2 tbsp capers, rinsed
■ ⅓ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
■ 4 dried figs, stalks removed and roughly chopped
■ 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped ■ 1 tsp fresh or dried thyme leaves
■ 3 tbsp good-quality olive oil
■ Splash of white wine vinegar or squeeze of lemon
■ cracked pepper
Seed & sumac crispbreads
■ ¼ cup (30g) rolled oats
■ 3 tbsp sesame seeds
■ 1 tbsp poppy seeds
■ 1 cup (150g) plain flour
■ ½ cup (75g) wholemeal wheat flour
■ ½ tsp baking powder
■ 1 tsp salt + extra for sprinkling
■ 1 tsp sumac + extra for sprinkling (optional) ■ About ½ cup (125ml) water
■ 3 tbsp olive oil + extra for brushing
1. First, make the tapenade. Place all the ingredients (see note about the dried figs above) into a food processor and blend into a rough paste. This will take a minute or two of blending. You want the tapenade to be amalgamated but not an ultra-smooth texture – a few small chunks is fine. Spoon into small jars, label and store in the fridge. Consume within 2 weeks
2. Preheat the oven for the crispbread to 180C (fan 160C). Line two oven trays with baking paper.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients – oats, seeds, flour, baking powder, salt and sumac. Add the water and oil and mix into a firm dough, adding a sprinkle of extra water if it feels dry. If you have time, leave the dough to rest for 20-30 minutes for easier rolling.
4. Divide the dough in two. On a floured bench, roll one piece into a rounded rectangle to fit your oven tray – it will be quite a thin sheet. Place on one of the prepared oven trays, then repeat with the second piece of dough. Score the sheets into 6-8 rectangles. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with extra salt and sumac.
5. Bake for 10 minutes, then swap the trays (if they are stacked in the oven) and bake for a further 10-12 minutes until golden and crisp. Cool on a rack – they will crisp up more as they cool.
6. Store the crispbreads in an airtight container in the pantry and use within a week.
Nicola Galloway is an award-winning food writer, cookbook author and culinary tutor. www.homegrown-kitchen.co.nz