15 March 2011

Luis's special spicy olives

When we have friends who stop by or come over for a drink, it goes without saying that we like to serve little bites or snacks as an apéritif. Olives are a common apéritif here in France and are sold in infinite varieties, including stuffed with almonds or pimentos or marinated in garlic, just to name a few. We prefer to season our olives on our own though, and the other evening Luis whipped up a batch of "special spicy" olives that were just out of this world!

Seasoned with garlic, basil, chili sauce, white balsamic vinegar and just a touch of vanilla (who would have ever thought that you can mix vanilla and olives?), these were the best olives that I've ever had. Even the Gastronomic Nomad, who was in town from New York and who normally HATES olives, loved these. That's Luis's magic! He's a genius at spontaneous creation in the kitchen and in combining seemingly discordant ingredients in a delicious way, and these olives were no exception. Try them, they are super easy to make, delicious and of course spicy!

Makes 1 cup

1 cup pitted green olives
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil leaves
1 teaspoon agave syrup, maple syrup or honey
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (preferably white)
A few drops of vanilla extract (just a drop or two if you are using a pure, good-quality extract...more if not - the key is to have only a very subtle taste of vanilla)
Chili sauce/paste, to taste

1. Wash the olives thoroughly in order to get rid of the brine. Drain and set aside.

2. In a small bowl, mix all of the remaining ingredients and stir well with a whisk or fork.

3. Add the olives and mix well. Refrigerate for half an hour to marinate well. But if you can't resist and must eat the olives right away, that's OK too!


  1. Sweet, spicy, and fragrant! I want to try!

  2. These look AMAZING! Kudos to Luis, in fact my husband saw me looking at this and came over to check it out, we will make them for sure!

  3. These sound (and look) amazing. Vanilla... who knew?!

  4. Wow. I'm lazy and just normally buy them spiced at the market but THEY look just gorgeous. The addition of syrup in there sounds intriguing and so must give them a try at home!

  5. Ooh, sounds unusual and delicious!

  6. WOW they are perfect appetizer to go with cocktails. Great recipe.

  7. A unique combination of unusual ingredients to tickle the different taste centers of our tongues all at the same time!- Mom

  8. Believe it or not my 3 year old likes spicy food and she is totally crazy about olives. This looks perfect, have bookmarked it :)

    US Masala

  9. Thanks for the lovely comments, everyone! The best thing about these olives is indeed the mix of flavors - sweet, tangy, spicy... delicious!

    Jill - Trust me these are so easy and can be whipped up in a minute or two...no need to buy from the market!

    Aipi - Bravo for your 3-year old who loves olives and spicy food! I hope that you make these and that she enjoys them :-)

  10. I Really love to create different kinds of recipes like this with best spices available online