If you’re a foodie great or small, you know Lidia Bastianich — her warm and friendly face welcoming you into the kitchen of her Emmy award-winning public television show Lidia’s Kitchen. Tutti a tavola a mangiare! She’s also a best‐selling cookbook author and owner of several restaurants and retail shops.
(As a matter of fact, this month, I’ll be visiting Lidia’s Eataly, the largest artisanal Italian food and wine marketplace in New York City.)
In the same vein as cooking goddess Ina Garten, Lidia presents recipes — and the stories that go with them — in a no-nonsense atmosphere, with familiar ingredients combined to make what you imagine could be a new favorite!
Such was the case recently. Picture me, holed up on a hotel room on Cape Cod, weathering a wicked nor’easter’ churning up the coast. Wine, pâté, a nice sharp cheddar, and nothing but an afternoon of PBS cooking shows on the To Do list. Heaven (in an odd duck sort of way).
In an episode titled “Heartwarming Favorites,” Lidia cooks up a rice and lentil soup, roasted olives with orange and rosemary, and ricotta …wait, what? Roasted olives with orange and rosemary?
That’s what I thought too. So I made a note in my journal, and when I got home and back to internet access (like I said, it was heaven)…I searched out these “heartwarming favorites.” To my delight, a recipe for Roasted Olives with Orange and Rosemary showed right up on Lidia’s website, and it was promptly added to our Thanksgiving menu — with much anticipation.
They did not disappoint.
The combination of earthy olives with the fresh citrus of orange is a surprise. Add in the distinct flavors of rosemary, thyme, garlic, and fennel with the overlay of roasting magic? This recipe is divine!
Not to mention the fact that olives are good for you!
According to the food blog The Nibbler: “Olives are a very healthy fruit. Some people avoid them because of their ‘high fat content.’ But that’s the same incredibly heart-healthy, monounsaturated fat that we’re encouraged to consume via olive oil. Monounsaturated fats have been found to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and increase HDL (good) cholesterol. Olives have a trifecta of healthy components that work in synergy. In addition to the monounsaturated fats, olives are rich in the powerful antioxidant vitamin E – which neutralizes damaging free radicals – along with polyphenols and flavonoids, which have anti-inflammatory properties. As a bonus, olives are also rich in copper and iron, and are an excellent source of fiber.”
Lidia suggests serving the olives hot, but they refrigerate well for several days, so this is a tasty treat to make and savor! And share, for sure!
Notes: 1) Fresh green olives work best for this recipe. In a pinch, jarred olives will work too, but the added salt in jar brines changes the delicate flavors. 2) Fennel powder can be made simply by pulverizing some fennel seeds—easy! 3) I let them cook slightly longer than 30 minutes, watching for the telltale caramelized signs of roasted magic!