We had friends over to help celebrate the solstice, and after much deliberation we settled on North African-style food. I made a roasted chicken rubbed with pureed onion and sumac powder (from Claudia Roden’s Middle Eastern Food), chickpeas with pomegranate molasses, Lebanese couscous with apricots, and marinated olives. J made a green salad with strips of piquillo pepper and nuggets of fried garlic (from Casa Moro), and for dessert we just put out a big colander full of ripe strawberries and a bag of chocolate nib cookies from the Breadfarm. Oh, yum.
It was all fantastic, but I’d like to make special note of the olives. I had originally thought to make a Pernod-orange zest marinade like we had at Pair in Seattle, but then I opened my squeaky-new copy of Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, and my eye lit on the first olive recipe: North African cumin and paprika marinated olives. Well, duh! I made those, of course. It was a little tricky finding green olives that weren’t already flavored and stuffed with something, but we found some, plus some kalamatas from our fridge that wanted using. The kalamatas worked better, since they were softer and absorbed more of the seasoning, but both were tasty. The flavors were summery and warming all at once – perfect for a cool June day.
Olives with Cumin and Paprika
from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison
- 1 1/2 cups olives, green or black
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp paprika
- a few pinches of hot red pepper flakes
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- juice of one lemon
Drain the olives; if they’re very salty, you can rinse them as well. Toast the cumin seeds in a small pan until fragrant, then bruise them in a mortar. Add to the olives along with the rest of the ingredients, let sit for at least an hour. They get better the longer they marinate.