I love food matches made in heaven: lamb and rosemary, port and chocolate, french fries and ketchup, Mama Nunz garlic cheeseburger and Little Kings Ale at 3:00 a.m. (don’t ask). You just know when that flavor combination hits the mark, and in this dish these classic flavors are absolute soulmates. Garlic, olives, basil and tomatoes have existed together for centuries, in cuisines throughout the world.
I will also admit to being completely olive obsessed lately, ever since I discovered Castelvetrano olives in mass quantity at Costco. But I digress…
I was led to this recipe by necessity: chicken thighs on sale at Whole Foods, along with a spare package of fresh basil in my fridge. Just had to pick up a can of crushed tomatoes, kalamata olives, some green beans for a side dish and a bottle of wine. You may also want to stock up on garlic because this recipe calls for a whopping twelve cloves. Which in turn brings me to one of the most interesting aspects of this recipe and a first for me: cooking with whole cloves and mashing them at the end with a fork.
No surprise that Food and Wine nailed this technique and I am now a big fan! This gives the sauce a nice mellow garlic flavor. Not overpowering and not burned. A perfect marriage with the bright flavors of the fresh basil and tomatoes. And yes….those olives, oh my!
May they all live happily ever after.