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Olives Made Simple

Olives Made Simple

Once upon a time olives were green from a jar or black from a can. Imported olives came only from ethnic specialty markets. Now, olive bars are prominent features in supermarkets. The choices are dizzying to the uninitiated.

Sign up for this short course on varieties you might like to try and how to use them in cooking and entertaining.  In no time, you’ll go to the head of the class!

Olives 101

  • Olives come in all shapes and sizes and dozens of varieties.  The Mediterranean, California and Latin America are the source of most olives eaten.

  • Olives found at your grocer’s olive bar are ready to eat “as is.”  Many have been marinated or flavored with oils, garlic, herbs or citrus.  You just need to find what you like.

  • The good news is an olive bar lets you purchase just a few at a time. It's a tasty way to sample with no jar of leftovers to get old in the refrigerator.

  • Even the grocer’s shelves are now stocked with plenty of specialty olive choices.

  • Specialty imported brine- or salt-cured olives benefit from a little ”doctoring” after the olives are rinsed. Check the recipe for Marinated Olives for one tasty kalamata olive idea.  Other times just drain and rinse, then add a little olive oil along with finely chopped garlic and fresh herbs or warm slightly and squeeze on lemon juice. Delicious.


Olive pairings

  • Nuts and olives are party partners at their simplest. Why?  They are easy, good for you, slightly salty, and, in the best sense of the word, appetizing!

  • Chèvre (goat) cheese and marinated olives are perfect partners, some think.

  • Another way to pair olives with wines and food is by regions of the world.  Go Italian, French, Spanish, Californian or Chilean.  All are known for wine, cheese and olives, of course.

  • Gather friends for tapas where a key ingredient is the olive.


Which Olives To Choose
Type  Description  Usage
California Ripe black olives, often pitted, with mild flavor. A mainstay of popular Mexican cooking like Seven-Layer Bean Dip.
Cerignola Mild-flavored Italian black olives. Try them for the imported Italian black olives in Chunky Vegetables with Fusilli.
Black Ripe black olives, often pitted, with mild flavor. A mainstay of popular Mexican cooking like Seven-Layer Bean Dip.
Dry Cured These are the olives with wrinkly skins. You’ll see varieties mostly from Italy and Morocco. Flavor is salty, smoky. Similar to Oil Cured.
Gaeta Mild-flavored Italian black olives. Try them for the imported Italian black olives in Chunky Vegetables with Fusilli.
Kalamata Medium-sized Greek olives are most often a purplish-black color. Flavor is pungent to fruity. Comes pitted. Popular in recipes for Mediterranean dishes like Tuscan Panzanella Salad and Olive Tapenade.
Mananilla Green olives, often pitted and stuffed, with briny flavor. A mainstay in recipes, whatever size is needed, when green olives are used.
Mission Ripe black olives, often pitted, with mild flavor. A mainstay of popular Mexican cooking like Seven-Layer Bean Dip.
Niçoise Tiny French olives that are a brownish-black color. Use them in the French salads that share their name: Salade Niçoise and Chicken Niçoise.
Oil Cured These are the olives with wrinkly skins. You’ll see varieties mostly from Italy and Morocco. Flavor is salty, smoky. Try them on the Mediterranean Onion Tart, which calls for oil-cured Greek olives.
Picholine Green olives, often pitted and stuffed, with briny flavor. A mainstay in recipes, whatever size is needed, when green olives are used.
Salt Cured These are the olives with wrinkly skins. You’ll see varieties mostly from Italy and Morocco. Flavor is salty, smoky. Similar to Oil Cured.
Spanish Green olives, often pitted and stuffed, with briny flavor. A mainstay in recipes, whatever size is needed, when green olives are used.

Try it Out in a Recipe

Marinated Olives
Marinated Olives
Marinated olives from your own kitchen? You bet! It's an easy 10 minute prep....
 
Banderillas
Banderillas
With fresh asparagus, tender shrimp, smoky ham and salty olives, these appetizers are bursting with ...
 
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