Here’s an unusual and delicious olive marinade from the Alicante region in Spain. Green olives are flavored with the quince paste called membrillo, along with a local, pungent, dried herb called pebrella and some cut-up lemon pulp. The result: a perfect balance between sweet and herbal.
Wild pebrella (Thymus pebrella) is the herb of choice. As it is now a protected species in southern Spain, I use the “politically correct” grown-under-glass pebrella imported by The Spanish Table (see Mail Order Sources). You may, of course, substitute a pungent mixture of dried savory, thyme, and orégano.
2tablespoonsquince paste (Spanish membrillo)
½ large lemon, diced
Pinches of pebrella, or substitute a mixture of thyme, orégano, and savory
In a small saucepan, melt the quince paste in 1½cups water over low heat, stirring to dissolve. Remove from the heat and let cool. Add the lemon, a fewpinches of pebrella, and the olive oil. Set the quince dressing aside.
Rinse the olives and drain. If the olives have not been cracked or slit, use a thin-bladed knife to make a cut on one side of each olive. This will help them to absorb the marinade.
Pack the olives into a ¾-quart jar. Pour the cooled quince dressing over them, cover, and leave the olives to marinate in a cool dark place at least 2 days and up to 4 days before serving. Drain and serve with a fresh sprinkling of pebrella and olive oil.