My Festive Olive Wreath Appetizer is such fun for the holidays ~ olives are easy, they’re healthy, and fit just about every diet out there. It looks Martha Stewart-ish, but it’s really a cinch, so any way you look at it, this is an epic win.
The holidays put me in a tough bind when it comes to entertaining, I definitely want to ‘wow’ people and honor the special occasion, but I just plain don’t have enough time or energy to go around! That’s where little tricks like this come in handy ~ olives have always been my fall back when I need a really quick but still elegant appetizer. This looks like you went to a ton of trouble when in reality you visited the olive bar, gathered some herbs, and threw it together. Granted you threw it together artfully, but you get the idea :)
Olive lovers (me!) will have a lot of fun planning this wreath. Choose your favorite olives, there are so many varieties out there lately, and then add in a few extras like feta cheese, and piquant peppers. You can vary up the cheese, add nuts, gherkins, capers, whatever your fancy. I kept mine simple to show you the concept.
What you’ll need for a festive olive wreath ~
- A large flat round tray. This can be the trickiest part of this appetizer. You want something large enough so that you can form a nice size circle. Anything from 12-16 inches works great, mine is just 12 inches across and is similar to this one.
- Assorted fresh herbs. I used rosemary, dill, thyme, sage, marjoram, oregano and bay.
- Assorted olives, the freshest you can find, from an olive bar preferably. I look for a colorful selection with different sizes and textures. Some stuffed, some not.
- Feta cheese, preferably imported sheep’s milk feta, it makes all the difference, trust me.
- Bright red marinated peppers, I used Peppadew peppers which are sweet and tangy, not hot, and they come in orange, too, for a Thanksgiving color scheme. Mine came from the olive bar at my supermarket, but you can also buy them in jars.
How to assemble an olive wreath appetizer ~
- I begin with the herbs, and I arrange them, overlapping, around the edge of my platter. I don’t bind them together in any way, I just start with the larger sprigs like rosemary and dill, and layer in the smaller, more delicate herbs like thyme and marjoram.
- Allow some of the sprigs to fall off the sides of the platter and into the center for a natural organic look.
- Next I arrange the larger olives, sometimes singly, sometimes grouping them in 3 or more. I add the smaller olives in a similar way. The feta cheese and red peppers are last, and they get arranged into a pleasing balanced-but-not-too-balanced way.
- You can leave the center of the wreath empty, or place a bowl inside filled with more olives. I sometimes fill the bowl with Marcona almonds. You can also leave the bowl empty for pits, which isn’t as pretty, but practical :)
How to store fresh herbs for your olive and herb wreath ~
- You’ll undoubtedly want to buy your herbs ahead of time, and they’ll stay fresh for a day or two if stored correctly.
- For hardy herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage, and bay leaves, I wrap them in wet-but-not-dripping paper towels and then again in plastic. Store in the crisper section of your refrigerator.
- For tender herbs like parsley, dill, or basil, I trim the bottoms of their stems and place them in a glass of water. Then I cover it all with a plastic bag, and put on a shelf in the refrigerator.
To pit or not to pit the olives for your wreath ~
- I use olives with the pits in them. They have the best flavor, and that’s how they do it in Europe where olives are an important part of the cuisine. The only exception is for stuffed olives, which I love and always include.
- Be sure to warn guests that the olives contain pits, and provide a few small bowls placed about to receive them.
- Assorted fresh herbs such as rosemary, dill, parsley, thyme, bay leaves, marjoram, and sage You can use a mixture of herbs or go with just one variety if you like
- a pint of fresh assorted olives, some stuffed, some not, with pits
- 1 cup (give or take) cubed Greek feta cheese (look for imported feta made with sheep's milk)
- 10-12 red marinated peppers, I used sweet peppadews
- Arrange the herb sprigs in an overlapping fashion to form a wreath around a large platter.
- Top with the olives, cheese, and peppers.
- If you like you can add a small bowl of olives in the center of the platter.
Feel free to up the amounts for more people. See the blog post for photos and more detailed instructions.