Maccheroni alla Chitarra with Herbes de Provence and cured olivesWhen it comes to cooking, my focus is always on seasonal produce. But now and then, I like to make a dish that is truly seasonless. I always have a box of pasta, olive oil and fresh garlic in my pantry… And I certainly always have cured olives in my refrigerator.

Ever since my first trip to Provence, when I discovered olives de Nyons,* cured olives have become a staple in my kitchen. I simply couldn’t live without them.

Authentic olives de Nyons are so exceptional that they boast their own AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée). Harvested late in the season, their skins become a bit shriveled and their flesh packed with concentrated flavors. Then they are salted and dry-cured, a process that removes any bitterness and intensifies their inherent sweetness. They’re just sublime!

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I simply couldn’t imagine life without my herb garden. The abundance this small 4 x 10 foot raised bed lavishes upon me during the warm months is truly astonishing.

Not surprisingly, I try to extend the season to the maximum. Every fall I collect fresh herbs to air-dry. I make little bundles of each herb and hang them upside-down, tying each bundle to a hanger. I place the hangers in the guest bedroom, open all the windows and let the dry fall air do its magic. Within a couple of weeks the herbs are ready to use.

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