Call it a snack or a condiment; enjoy it by the spoonful or use it as a topping on everything from chicken to soup. This herb-spiced, lemony olive-and-walnut sauté is simple to make, yet is remarkably savory. I like to use Aleppo pepper when I make this, but you can swap out Aleppo for cayenne or crushed red pepper flakes if you’d like to kick your nuts up a notch. (Aleppo is more flavorful than hot, which is precisely why I prefer it.)
Likewise, if you prefer oranges over lemons, use orange zest instead of lemon zest in this recipe; if you’re a fan of strong-tasting black olives, use those in place of the buttery Castelvetrano olives I’ve used. Just remember that if you’re making this for guests who may not be keen on olives, using a buttery variety will increase the odds of the dish being a hit. In fact, when I served this to a non-olive-lover, she said that now she likes olives, or at least Castelvetrano olives. The addition of rosemary and thyme tones down the overall olive impact of the dish, too, and creates a more rounded flavor. You can also chop up the olives rather than halve them if you’d like to cut down on the olive-forward impact.
The best part? This ultra-savory snack/condiment/appetizer is ready in fewer than ten minutes. Talk about a great last-minute party dish! Not to mention a tasty and satisfying snack to take with you to work or school.
Sauteed Olives & Walnuts
4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly (thin slices are less likely to burn and turn bitter; finely chopped pieces cook too fast)
2 handfuls roughly chopped walnuts
At least 15 olives (opt for Castelvetrano or green Niçoise if you’re aiming for a buttery crowd-pleasing olive), halved or chopped
Dash of Aleppo pepper OR crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. dried rosemary (crumble in your fingers right before adding to bump up the flavor)
1 tsp. dried thyme (ditto on crumbling)
Zest of 1 lemon, preferably organic since you’re using the outside
Pour a hefty drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil into a medium skillet. Let heat for 1 minute over medium heat before adding the garlic. Reduce heat to medium-low and saute the garlic for 3-4 minutes or until fragrant and turning light brown. Stir in walnuts, olives, pepper, rosemary, and thyme. Cook, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes more or until the walnut is getting a little crisp and lightly browned. I use this time to zest the lemon.
Stir in lemon zest and heat through for 1 minute. Remove from heat and promptly scoop into a waiting dish to halt the cooking immediately. Serve alone as an appetizer or a snack or use to garnish anything and everything, from soup to chicken to hummus. Since this recipe has its roots in the Middle East, it’s particularly delicious with Mediterranean cuisine. Leftover olives and walnuts can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.