If you’re looking for a quick appetizer for your Labor Day BBQ, this Mediterranean antipasti dish is not only simple to pull together, it’s refreshingly light and savory.
We ordered this at a restaurant in Half Moon Bay called “it’s Italia”, located in the Half Moon Bay Lodge downtown. Their food is above average and while some dishes are banal, others are spot-on delicious—like this simple Italian style antipasti of Castelvetrano olives, Marcona almonds and peppers baked in a small cast-iron skillet with Meyer lemon peel.
The lemon peel gets slightly crisp and adds a nice acidity to the very mild vanilla-like flavor of the Castelvetrano olive. A little heat comes from the Calabrese peppers (found in a jar in most good deli sections), which can also be substituted for a red Fresno or cherry pepper. We topped ours with a a dash of house made smoked Maldon salt, but regular kosher salt would also do well. The last touch is a pinch of ground coriander and Marcona almonds, which add a delicious textural counterpart to the other ingredients.
Simply add all of these ingredients (except for the lemon juice and salt) in a bowl and toss—then bake in a cast iron pan right on the grill (we did ours on the upper shelf) until the lemon peel was a light brown and the almonds toasted. Pull it off the grill and squeeze some fresh Meyer lemon juice on top and salt to taste right before serving.
- 1 jar of Castelvetrano olives—(use 3/4 of the jar drained)
- 1 Meyer Lemon—peeled and both peels and juice reserved
- ½ cup of Marcona Almonds
- 1/2 TBSP of Maldon salt
- 1/2 TBSP of ground coriander
- 6 Calabrese peppers or substitute—whole cherry peppers
- Cast Iron Skillet or other fire proof pan