It is a known fact that Italians take their foodstuff rather seriously. We have a traditional meal structure that we observe like our lives depend on it. We have frugal breakfasts, proper lunches and nutritious dinners. But in a country where supper takes place in between 8 and 10 pm, we need that extra fuel to power through. And so we invented the Aperitivo, literally drinks with nibbles. Now, the choice of food to be served with your drinks is not to be taken lightly. Aperitivo is not as substantial as Antipasto (starter) it is merely a palate tantalizer to get you salivating and in the mood for the bigger event, dinner. Roasted olives with chillie and lemon is ever present when I’m hosting Aperitivo, for two fundamental reasons: 1. The flavor of olives preserved in brine can take a little enhancing and the combination of garlic, lemon, chillies and white wine is, frankly, infallible. 2. It takes 10 minutes to make… small effort, big gain!
INGREDIENTS, serves 8
2 cups of large green olives (I used Sicilian olives)
1/4 cup of white wine
2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 red chillies, roughly chopped
1 peeled garlic clove, sliced
1 lemon cut into wedges
rosemary springs for decoration
1. Turn on the grill function in your oven
2. Place olives and all ingredients in a large bowl and toss well.
3. Tip everything onto an oven proof serving dish and place under the grill. Be sure to stir the olives a few times whilst under the grill to prevent burning them or the garlic and chillie. Leave under the grill until the olives look scorched and the lemon wedges have slightly caramelized (it takes about 5-10 minutes in my oven). Take the dish out of the oven using mitts and decorate with rosemary sprigs. The residual heat of the the olives will release the warm aroma of the woody herbs.
4. Serve hot or warm with drinks, being mindful not to touch the oven dish (warn your guests!)
Silvia’s Cucina the cookbook is available in stores and online