Preserve Yourself With Pomegranate & Passion - Recipe For Persian Olives
I remember certain fights between my mother and my father growing up, because there wasn't anything far in between. They are the age old sentiment of "opposites attract". One year, my father decided to surprise my mom after she had taken a summer long trip back to Iran, by throwing away all the preserves and ferments that she had hidden away deep in the pantry corner she referred to as -"none of your business Bijan". My fathers name is Bijan, but from the day my mom got back from Iran and saw the result of my fathers pantry purge, he was referred to by numerous titles that are less than blog appropriate.
Nonetheless, among her favorite that were thrown away, were olives that she had macerated in tart pomegranate molasses, pungent dried mint, garlic paste (made by grinding dense sea sat and garlic slivers together) and toasted walnuts (which had been soaked in salted water overnight to purge them of their bitterness, then ground into a sultry, nutty paste).The culmination of these parts were mixed together with green gemlik & black beldi olives, packed away into recycled pickle jars from Costco, and allowed to marinade and ferment for years at a time in the deepest crevices of our home. I'm sure my father threw out olives that were as old as I was at the time, and my mom reacted in a fumy hysterical state - as if he had disposed of me alternatively.
The result of these ingredients lending themselves to one another is a flavor that I think best identifies for Persians as an insatiable trigger. It's this harmony of sour, salty and outstanding savoriness that is at the root of our greatest food experiences; at the heart of our deepest childhood memories - given that your childhood wasn't awful and someone took the time to cook for you. To this day, it is one of the rarest things on our dinner table. And we, as moderately well mannered children in my family, show our gratitude for being given a few morsels from the stash of holy ferments & preserves. From a single olive, every hair on the back of my neck is inspired to stand up in the delectable, tart shock of endearing and thoughtful flavor.
The major game changers in this recipe are as follows:
- Soak your walnuts overnight in salted water. It helps pull out any of the arsenic that they may contain, before patting them dry and toasting them in a hot oven at 350 ° F for 12-15 minutes, or until toasted.
- Use "Cortas" brand pomegranate molasses. The more tart focused flavor of Cortas is ideal for this dish so that the olives don't become overly sweet. For every time you fail to use Cortas pomegranate molasses, another Persian kid misses out on their dream of becoming something other than a doctor, engineer or lawyer - artists are cool too, so go and seek out Cortas!
- Grind your garlic into a paste with salt. You want to develop the essential oils in the garlic so that they can evenly distribute throughout the olives and not lend an assertive overbearing flavor that can otherwise comprise the whole dish.
- Garnish is everything. Persian food, as extensive and beautiful in process as it is, can more often than not resemble colors and palates which are not true to how appetizing a dish should truly be. Pomegranate seeds and torn pieces of vibrant green mint go a long way here. If you feel deeply inspired and poetic, no one will judge you for crushing dried rose petals over the olives - fresh ones if you're truly inspired.
- Pick your favorite olive. Mine are Castelvetranos because of their creamy texture and rich flavor. I also prefer to use olives that still have the pit in them. There's no reason to be traditional if you're not implored to devour something you just managed to make. A recipe is just a framework for greatness, the final decision is always yours.
Recipe For "Zaytoon Parvardeh" -
Pomegranate & Walnut Marinated Olives
- 4 cups Green Olives, such as Cerignola, Gemlik, or Picholine
- 1 cups Toasted Walnuts, previously soaked in salted water over-night
- 2 tbsp Cold-Pressed Olive Oil
- 1/2 cup Pomegranate Molasses, Cortas Brand
- 2 tbsp Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
- 2 Garlic Cloves, smashed & chopped fine with a pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp Dried Mint, hard stalks sifted & removed
- 1/4 tsp Ground Angelica (Golpar)
- Kosher Salt & Freshly Cracked Black Pepper To Taste
- In a food processor, add toasted walnuts & olive oil, and process until the contents resemble a grainy paste, with walnut pieces the size of lemon seeds.
- Transfer the grainy walnut paste into an appropriately sized mixing bowl. To the bowl, add olives, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, garlic clove paste, dried mint, ground angelica, and season to taste with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
- Mix together thoroughly using a spoon, and taste an olive for balance. The result should be mainly tart and salty, with undertones of walnut, sweet pomegranate and pungent garlic. The mint and angelica should be fragrant but not overly bitter. Adjust accordingly to capture this profile.
- Pack the olives away into a mason jar or similar vessel and store in a cool dry place for as long as it will last, and as far away from your father, husband, or anyone else who may possibly dare to throw it away.