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)

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