Try This Easy Italian Appetizer: Warm Orange-Rosemary Olives

Inviting some pals over to hang out can quickly turn stressful when you realize they’re going to expect some food. Before you reach for your phone to order delivery, take a few deep breaths. Homemade eats don’t have to be difficult. With original recipes from our Everyday Appetizers series, you can pull off showstopping starters without losing your cool. 

No matter how carefully you select cheeses, cured meats, and marinated vegetables for the ultimate entertaining appetizer, every variation of an antipasto platter ends up tasting roughly the same. No one will complain, but they won’t be floored either. Preparing just one appetizer yourself instantly makes the spread much more impressive. It can also be a complete breeze if you opt for these flavor-packed olives.

About this Recipe

warm orange-rosemary olives in a shallow bowl with torn bread

Warm orange-rosemary olives with bread | Christine Skopec/Culture Cheat Sheet

Because we think cooking should be accessible to all guys, even those who have packed schedules or limited culinary credentials, this recipe is designed to work for absolutely everyone. It takes about two minutes to assemble, 20 minutes of hands-off time in the oven, and exactly zero technique. It still manages to taste like the most elegant version of marinated olives you’ve ever had.

To get started, hit the olive bar at your store. The exact mix is completely up to you, but it’s nice to offer a selection since most people have a favorite they lean toward. You can also feel free to go for pitted or unpitted, but be sure to let your guests know. If you go for pitted, set out small bowls or ramekins for easy cleanup.

The actual assembly is nothing more than combining the olives with a some rosemary, orange rind, red pepper flakes, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar in a large pouch of aluminum foil. Because ingredients are at a bare minimum, make sure you have quality vinegar and oil. You definitely don’t need to break the bank, but they should both taste good on their own. And feel free to change things up with different herbs and citrus. You can follow the exact same method with lemon or grapefruit zest and any sturdy herb.

Perhaps the best part of this recipe is the cooking portion because all you have to do is toss the olives in the oven, leaving you to set out bread, meats, cheeses, and your favorite drinks to accompany the spread. Transfer your olives to a bowl, and you’re set. This is entertaining at its absolute easiest.

Wine is probably the most natural accompaniment to an olive-based appetizer, so you have a lot of choices. VinePair said Cabernet Franc goes wonderfully with green olives while a fruity, tannic Pinot Noir or Agiorgitiko would make the best match with darker varieties. Dry, sparkling whites also tend to go well with briny foods like olives.

Feeling more like beer? A citrus-forward wheat beer will play nicely off the olives. The piney, spicy flavor of an IPA is also a great choice. For something a little more adventurous, try pairing a gose with these olives. Draft Magazine explained these brews help draw out the herb and brine flavors.

If you’re thinking cocktails, any classic Italian aperitif will be a fantastic pairing. A Negroni is particularly nice with the hint of orange. Because fennel pairs so well with olives, a drink featuring licorice flavors would also be delicious. Epicurious recommended a cocktail called the Fever.

Warm Orange-Rosemary Olives

close-up of warm orange-rosemary olives in a bowl

Warm orange-rosemary olives with bread | Christine Skopec/Culture Cheat Sheet

You can go as deluxe as you want with the rest of the food you serve, but you can get by with nothing more than a good loaf of bread. This recipe makes enough for 6 to 8.


  • 2 cups mixed olives
  • 3 (1-by-3-inch) strips orange zest
  • 2 rosemary sprigs, halved if large
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lay a large rectangle of heavy-duty aluminum foil on a work surface. Add olives, zest, rosemary, and pepper flakes to the center of foil and toss to combine. Drizzle with oil and vinegar. Fold ends of foil together and crimp edges to seal on all sides, forming a packet. Bake for 20 minutes. Carefully transfer to a bowl and serve.

See you back here next week.

Follow Christine on Twitter @christineskopec

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