These Spiced Walnuts and Olives are an easy treat that in one bite will have you traveling to The Middle East and back. Then again, Cindy Pawlcyn’s new book Cindy’s Supper Club (Ten Speed Press, April 2012) will have you globetrotting the whole world while still sitting at the dinner table. Check out this excerpt from Cindy’s Supper Club for recipes inspired by Ireland, France, and Austria. Bon Voyage and Bon Appetit!
Spiced Walnuts and Olives
Makes 2 cups walnuts and 2 cups olives
2 cups walnut halves
2 tablespoons zatar*
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons olive oil or sesame oil
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
3 or 4 thyme sprigs
1 to 2 tablespoons zatar*
Zest of 1 lemon, in wide strips
2 cups oil-cured black olives
To prepare the walnuts, preheat the oven to 350°F. In a big bowl, toss together the walnuts, zatar, salt, and oil. Pour the nuts out onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 7 to 10 minutes, until nicely toasted.
To make the olives, in a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the thyme, zatar, and lemon zest and then toss in the olives. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until hot.
Serve the nuts at room temperature and the olives warm. You can mix them together, but I like to keep them separate. Remember to set out a dish for the olive pits.
* Zatar, an herb and spice mix common throughout much of the Middle East, is used to season both the walnuts and the olives. The mix varies by region and even by cook, but thyme, sumac, and sesame seeds are common to nearly every blend.
Penzeys Spices carries a good-quality storebought version. You can also whip up your own mix. I use equal amounts of dried thyme, toasted sesame seeds, and dried sumac. If you use 1 tablespoon of each, you will have enough for this menu, with some extra to try in other dishes. It’s great on grilled corn with butter and lemon or lime juice.