December 14, 2023

Warm Herbed Olives for Easy Entertaining

Warm Herbed Olives for Easy Entertaining

This is an elegant and oh-so-simple technique to enhance the way you serve olives. Unless you're fortunate to make your own home-cured olives (or have been given some this year), you'll likely purchase a few jars at your local shop or a few pints and half pints from your local deli. Whether home-cure or store bought, this is a technique you'll want to incorporate into your entertaining practice at home.


  • olives
  • citrus peel
  • fresh herbs
  • olive oil, either extra virgin or flavored

The Technique

We chose large green Castelvetrano and ripe Kalamata olives for this image as the contrast in color, texture, and flavor was pleasing and balanced. These are also two very popular and readily available olives in the US market. Choose whichever olive varieties are your favorite (even dry cured), however, you may not want them pre-seasoned as you'll read below.

Prepare a few strips of citrus peel with a channel knife. The longer strands provide better contrast than zest and I find more pleasing than a julienne. This is a visual choice, not a culinary one. Either lemon or orange will do; we had oranges at home so took strips from one of those. 

Prepare a few sprigs of herbs--Donald had fresh sage, rosemary, and thyme on hand--and place all in a small pan. Our 2 quart saucier was the right size to fill the  16 cm au gratin you see in my photo above.

Here's how the ingredients looked before we added oil and heated the olives.

close up image of large round and medium olive olives with sage, thyme, rosemary, and strips of orange peel 

Select your favorite oil, whether extra virgin, garlic, lemon, or even basil! We had a bottle of Picual open, so used that. Add enough oil to coat and cover to about ⅔ of the way up the olives. There is no need to submerge them.

Warm your mixture on a medium low heat until warmed through, about 10 minutes. If your guests have not yet arrived, turn the heat to the lowest possible setting to enable you to present them warmed through (not hot).

Warmed herbed olives complement breads and cheeses, and I would expect that some guests would welcome dipping a hunk of country loaf into the warmed and fragrant oil. I know I would!


I learned this technique from my friend and colleague Patty Wittmann, a talented  food stylist, and I'm happy to pass it along to you all!  Fondly, Liz

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