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Marinated Black Olives, Fresh Mozzarella and Tomatoes

Antipasti platters are one of my favorite appetizers to see at a party or on a menu at a restaurant mainly because I love the marinated olives, artichokes etc.  I always slow down to take a good look at the yummy “Olive Bar” at our local Market District….but as we all know, the price per pound at those bars is typically pretty high.  Furthermore, to make a complete antipasti platter can get expensive and time consuming.  The other day I was watching Melissa d’Arabian on the Food Network and she was putting together a from scratch antipasti platter, complete with pickled cauliflower and carrots, meats, cheeses and marinated olives.  Her schtick is that she can make a meal for four for $10 or less.  What caught my attention was that (in her effort to save money) she opted to marinate regular canned black olives as opposed to the much more expensive Greek or Kalamata olives.  I usually prefer the flavor in the expensive olives but loved the idea that if you marinate canned black olives, you could create some of that flavor on your own…for a much lower cost.  I adapted her olive oil marinade to my tastes and added what I had in the fridge — grape tomatoes and ciliegi mozzerella (the little grape sized mozzarella balls), left over from my Caprese Linguini.  This made a great quick, inexpensive appetizer!!!

Marinated Black Olives, Fresh Mozzarella and Tomatoes

Ingredients:

1 14 oz can medium or large pitted black olives, drained and rinsed

6-8 oz. grape tomatoes (I used the sweet Cherubs)

6-8 oz. fresh ciliegi or bocconcini mozzarella (mini balls) or cut cubes of a larger ball of fresh mozzarella

1/3 cup olive oil (good quality)

3 cloves fresh garlic, minced

1 lemon, zest and juice

1 tsp each dried basil and dried oregano

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)

salt and pepper

handful fresh parsley and basil, chopped

Directions:

In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, garlic, lemon zest (from the entire lemon, keep lemon to squeeze on just before serving), dried basil, oregano and red pepper.  Add salt and pepper to taste and chopped fresh herbs.  Add black olives, tomatoes and mozzarella to the olive oil mixture and toss to coat.  Chill for at least two hours.  Just before serving, squeeze a little fresh lemon juice to brighten the flavor.  Serve in a bowl with toothpicks, or kabob them on a toothpick for an easy finger food.  Keep chilled for up to a week.