For me, the perfect hors d’oeuvre is one that teases your hunger but doesn’t fill you up. It‘s easy to prepare, with minimal shopping, looks good and goes perfectly with a Campari and Soda. Start with everyday store-bought olives and build from there. The flavour of the seasoned olives, along with the tiny hits of sweetness from the dates, is a perfect combo. This pre-dinner nibble will have your friends wondering where you bought them.
3 Medjool dates
1½ cups (375 mL) pitted or unpitted olives, preferably mixed in colour and type
2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
2 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
1 tsp (5 mL) fennel seeds
2 small sprigs rosemary
⅛ tsp (0.5 mL) chili flakes
1 orange or lemon
1½ tsp (7 mL) sherry or red wine vinegar
1 Pit dates by breaking in half and removing pit. Then slice each half crosswise into thin strips. Place in a medium bowl. Rinse olives in a sieve and drain well. Pat dry. In a medium frying pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic, fennel seeds, 1 sprig of rosemary cut in half, and chili flakes. Using a vegetable peeler, peel off 2 strips of citrus peel and add to pan. Stir 2 to 3 minutes, just until garlic is light golden brown. 2 Add olives to pan and stir until hot, about 1 minute. Stir in vinegar.
3 Add olive mixture to the dates, making sure to evenly distribute dates. Let marinate at room temperature, stirring occasionally, preferably for a couple of hours. But if you are really pressed for time, serve immediately. Garnish with remaining sprig of rosemary. Makes 1½ cups (375 mL)