Mikie's Marinated Olives
I know what you're thinking: Marinated olives – what's the big deal? All I can tell you is they are the best marinated olives ever, and there's nothing to the preparation. Feel free to tweak and riff on the recipe – it's very improvisation-friendly. I like to use olives that still have their pits for this, a mix of whatever looks best. Some nice ones to look for: Castelvetrano, Cerignola, Picholine, Niçoise, Arbequiño, Lucques, Kalamata. This is best served the day it's made, as it loses some of its charm in the fridge. If you make it ahead and store the olives overnight in the fridge, bring them to room temperature before serving.
1 pound mixed olives
7 to 10 (or more) branches of fresh thyme
3 or 4 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly smashed
3 bay leaves
3 thick strips of orange zest or the grated zest of half an orange
1 teaspoon fennel seed, roughly crushed in a mortar or roughly ground in a spice grinder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Place the olives in a medium-size bowl with the garlic, bay leaves, orange zest, fennel seed, red pepper flakes, vinegar and olive oil. Stir to combine. Let sit, unrefrigerated, for at least an hour and up to six hours, tossing the olives and marinade now and then. Serve at room temperature.