Sure you can buy stuffed olives in a jar, but with those you’ll only get a chunk of cheese or a clove of garlic, and though they might be tasty you’re not going to get the Mmmmmm moment that comes with these.
Feta and Garlic Stuffed Olives (makes about 50-60 or enough for about 10-15 people)
1/2 lb. (225g) (about 60 or so) PITTED olives, drained–I used Castelvetrano because they’re everywhere these days and they’re delicious, but you could use Kalamata or any olive variety you prefer. Just try to pick something on the larger side so you don’t drive yourself crazy trying to stuff them.
3 oz. (90g) sheep or goat’s milk feta cheese
1 head garlic
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon (120ml plus 5ml) good quality extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. (45ml) dry vermouth–you could play around here with different types of booze–dry sherry, crisp white wine, vodka, etc.
2 Tbsp. (30ml) fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
Note: If you can’t stand the smell of garlic on your hands and you’re making a recipe like this… when washing your hands rub a stainless steel spoon over your skin, and follow up with some lemon juice. I keep half a lemon in the sink and use it like a bar of soap. The stainless steel neutralizes the odor and the lemon helps seal the deal.
To roast the garlic:
Preheat the oven to 400F/205C degrees.
Cut the pointy top off the head (not the root end), exposing all the cloves. Drizzle with the 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Wrap in aluminum foil.
Bake for 30 minutes. Let the garlic cool until it’s comfortable to handle. Squeeze the uncut end and the cooked cloves will slide right out.
To make the filling:
In a food processor, combine the cheese, roasted garlic and 1 tablespoon of the parsley. Process until you have a smooth-ish paste.
The fun part:
With your ever so clean and lovely hands–or if you’re feeling nimble use a small spoon or knife–press the cheese/garlic mixture into the cavities of the olives. If things get really messy you can clean up the outside of the olives with a quick brush of a paper towel. They don’t have to be perfect.
In a saucepan, add the olives, 1/2 cup of olive oil, vermouth and lemon zest. Simmer over medium heat for a few minutes. Keep the olives moving by shaking the pan–you want to warm them through not brown them. You can do this in small batches if you don’t have a pan that will hold all the olives at once and keep the warmed batches in the oven on the warm setting.
Serve immediately with a nice loaf of crusty bread to soak up all the cheesy, garlicky, boozy broth.
Store any remaining olives in the refrigerator. They should keep for several days. The olive oil might solidify in the refrigerator; reheating will loosen things up again.