Roasted Black Olives and Pearl Onions

serves: Makes about 3 cups

This might be considered a salad but it is a wonderful stuzzicchino (something to nibble on). Slow roasting intensifies the flavor of olives and gives them an unusual yet delightful crunch. Tossed with vinegar-poached pearl onions, they make a lively and beautiful salad-condiment. Serve this as an antipasto with cured meats and cheeses or with grilled meats and fish. It is also a great garnish for sandwiches or with slices of grilled bread. All you needs is a plate, a fork, and a glass of good red wine.

1 pound pitted brine-cured olives, well drained
½ pound pearl onions, 1/2-inch wide or as small as possible
2 cups water
½ cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons orange zest, in fine threads or julienne slivers
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons orange juice


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Spread the olives in a large baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until they have shriveled a bit and are slightly crunchy but not crisped or burnt. Let them cool in the pan (they'll dry more and become a bit crunchier).

Meanwhile, cut off the root end of each onion but don't peel them. In a small saucepan, heat the water and vinegar to a boil, drop in all the onions and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on their size, until they feel soft all the way through when you squeeze them but not mushy. Drain and let them cool. Remove the skin (or pop the onion out of the skin by squeezing at the top). If the onions are 3/4-inch thick or more, slice them open and flake them apart, separating the layers; tiny onions can be left whole.

Toss the olives, onions and orange zest in a bowl; dress with the oil and juice to taste. Marinate briefly or overnight, refrigerated, if you want Serve at room temperature in a shallow bowl with a serving spoon.