SOURCE: International Olive Council

June 28, 2012 05:00 ET

Olives and Olive Oil Add Life to Casual Parties

MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - Jun 28, 2012) - (Family Features) Now is the perfect time to relax and invite friends for an evening of good food and great company. Entertaining can be as easy as preparing a few simple, yet impressive appetizers -- and olives and olive oil are a great way to add life and flavor to any menu.

Olives and olive oil are incredibly versatile. They're bursting with flavor and health benefits, making them essential ingredients in every cook's kitchen. And with a few flavorful recipes in your back pocket, you'll always be ready to impress. Try one of these delicious, easy-to-prepare recipes created by the International Olive Council to make your casual evening one to remember. Visit for more inspiration, and stay up to date on all things olive by following Add Some Life on Facebook and Twitter.

Crispy Garlic Shrimp Skewers 
Total Time: 30 minutes 
Makes: 32 appetizers 
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
1 egg white
2 large cloves garlic, minced
32 raw medium shrimp, shelled and deveined (about 1 1/4 pounds)
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh dill or parsley
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  Dash salt, optional
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup finely shredded pecorino or Parmesan cheese
16 pitted large green olives
16 pitted large ripe olives
32 grape tomatoes
1/2 medium cucumber, sliced lengthwise and cut into 32 pieces
32 (4 to 6-inch) appetizer skewers

Heat oven to 475°F.

Blend 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, egg white and garlic in small bowl. Add shrimp; toss to coat; set aside.

Blend remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, dill, lemon peel and salt in small bowl. Set aside.

Mix bread crumbs and cheese on waxed paper; dredge shrimp to coat evenly. Place in single layer on baking sheet. Bake 8 to 12 minutes or until light golden and thoroughly cooked. Gently loosen shrimp from baking sheet; cool 1 to 2 minutes.

Thread a single shrimp, olive, tomato and cucumber piece on each skewer. Serve immediately drizzled with olive oil mixture.

TIP: Rub bread crumbs and cheese between your palms to create a uniform, consistent mixture. The mixture will adhere more evenly to the shrimp.

Pork and Mushroom Sliders   
Total Time: 45 minutes  
Makes: 12 sandwiches  
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons coarse ground mustard
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 large cloves garlic, divided and minced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves, divided
1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed
4 cups finely chopped shiitake mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped ripe olives
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
12 small rolls, split (warmed, if desired)

Heat oven to 400°F.

Blend sour cream and mustard in small bowl; cover and refrigerate.

Combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 clove garlic and 1 teaspoon thyme leaves in mini chopper or finely chop garlic and blend mixture in bowl with fork, mashing garlic.

Rub pork with garlic mixture; place in shallow baking pan and roast 25 minutes or until internal temperature is 160°F. Remove from oven; let stand at least 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 clove garlic; cook and stir 30 seconds or until fragrant but not browned. Add mushrooms, olives, shallots and remaining 1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves. Cook and stir 5 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Remove from heat; set aside.

Thinly slice tenderloin diagonally across grain. Spread each cut side of rolls with mustard mixture. Spoon half of mushroom mixture (about 2 tablespoons) on bottom of each roll. Top rolls evenly with sliced pork and remaining mushroom mixture. Cover with top halves of rolls. Serve on coated sandwich wraps or bakery sheets if desired.

TIP: Meat can be roasted several hours in advance, then refrigerated and sliced before assembling sandwiches.

Easy Scallop Appetizer Cups  
Total Time: 15 minutes  
Makes: 15 appetizers  
1/3 cup finely chopped pitted ripe olives, drained on paper towels
3 tablespoons garlic and herbs spreadable cheese
15 prebaked phyllo shells (1 9-ounce package)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, slivered
3 to 4 ounces bay scallops, thawed and patted dry
1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon leaves, optional

Combine olives and spreadable cheese in small bowl; mix well. Spoon evenly into shells (filling 2/3 to 3/4 full); set aside.

Heat olive oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add garlic slivers; cook and stir 10 to 15 seconds until fragrant. Remove and discard garlic. Reduce heat to medium; add scallops. Cook and stir 2 to 4 minutes or until scallops are thoroughly cooked. Remove scallops with slotted spoon.

Place 2 to 3 scallops in each shell, pressing lightly. Serve immediately.

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