Zeytoon Parvardeh (Olive Appetizer)
I am sharing a Gilaki (from the province of Gilan) appetizer recipe, which I prepared for the Super Bowl party last weekend, and won the approval of my good friends, Peggy and Courtney.
Gilan’s strong culinary tradition includes the exquisite savory and pungent mix of pomegranate paste and walnut sauce, making it’s appearance over and over again in this blog’s top favorite recipes.
I talked briefly about Gilan while cooking Mirza Ghasemi, and although I never lived there, I remember driving on a hairy road that wound through a steep mountain, during heavy rainfall, to visit one of my dad’s students in a village. As luck would have it, he wasn’t home, and as Persians are big on mehmoon navazy (hospitality), his mom insisted that we stay the night. She poured us warm tea, served her homemade naan (bread) and yogurt, and eggs from her chicken for dinner, and made the coziest bed on the floor for us. My grandma Parvin used to say: “mosafer mehmooneh khodast” meaning “a traveler is God’s friend” and so should be cared for. Back in the day, before cell phones, and in this case phones too, people just rolled with uncertainties and everything worked out just fine.
Interesting how memories weave themselves through food, and I wish you could create the same nostalgia for yourself or your family. Today’s little appetizer is quick, easy and requires only a handful of ingredients. The original recipe requires a lot of garlic, typical of Gilan, that maybe too unusual for Western palates, so add it in small amounts. If your olives are too salty, soak them in water for 10-15 minutes, then drain. As suggested by my friends, this dish would make a great tapenade, and you can do that by pulsing the olives in a blender before mixing in.
Ingredients ( serves 4-5):
- 2 cups pitted green olives, drained
- 7-9 Tbs pomegranate paste
- 3/4 cups walnuts
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 2 tsp dried mint
- 1-3 garlic cloves
Time ~15 min
- Put walnuts and garlic in a food processor. Pulse ’til finely ground.
- Place in a medium-sized bowl and add in the pomegranate paste, olive oil and mint. Combine well.
- Add the olives and mix. Taste for seasoning.
- Refrigerate for a couple of hours (2-4 hr) before serving.
Serve cold or room temp with bread or cracker..
If you end up with too much garlic, store the appetizer in the fridge for up to a week, ’till the strong flavor dissipates.