Wonderful World Of Olives

Posted on: May 27, 2015   |   Posted in: Recipes


Wonderful World of Olives: Our Spiced Olives Recipe

We’ve always served Spiced Olives as part of our “Evening Hors d’oeuvres” Buffet — finding these rich salty bites serve as an excellent appetizer and are just perfect with wine or mixed drinks. And, each year we’ve watched the varieties being imported become more and more interesting. Today there are “Castelvetranos” from Sicily; “Lucques”, “Nicoise” and “Picholines” from both France and Morocco (can you taste the difference); Turkish “Gemlik”; Italy’s “Gaeta”, “Calabrese” and “Cerignola”; “Kalamatas”, “Amfissa”, Knoservolias”, and” Hondroelias” from Greece; and “Manzanilla” and “Gorda”from Spain. Most retailers are now regularly stocking 20-30 varieties so it’s important to know your favorites.

Once home you can concoct your own signature marinades with almost any area in the Mediterranean in mind: Italy (garlic, fennel seeds, hot pepper flakes, anchovies), Greece (oregano, mint, lemon, ouzo), Spain (orange zest, Sherry vinegar, cumin) and Morocco (coriander, cinnamon, ginger, saffron). Just bind with a dash of extra virgin olive oil and there will always be a glorious bite in your pantry.

If you’d like to savor a spectrum of olives try Zingermans, Tienda and Formaggio Kitchen!

Not sure where to begin? Try these two recipes where olives take main stage. The options are endless. Enjoy as many as you can!

Spiced Olive Mosaic

Delicious Greek and French black and green olives are combined in this stunning mosaic. Pack in decorative clear glass jars and bring as a lovely bread-and-butter gift.


1 c. Kalamata olives
1 c. Nicoise olives
1 c. Picholine olives
1 c. best quality olive oil
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. dry white wine
2 large cloves garlic
2 large bay leaves
2 dried whole chiles (2 inches long)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 lemon slices (1/4 inch thick)
1 full branch fresh or dried thyme
Chopped fresh thyme (garnish)


  1. Combine the olives in a bowl; drain off all the liquid.
  2. Combine the oil, water, and wine in a small heavy saucepan and heat just to boiling. Remove from heat. Add the garlic, bay leaves, chiles, oregano, and black pepper. Let cool for 20 minutes.
  3. Place 1 lemon slice in the bottom of a 1-quart glass jar. Add the mixed olives and, at the same time, arrange the chiles, garlic cloves, remaining lemon slice, bay leaves, and thyme branch in the jar so that they show on the outside.

Tapenade Dip

This dark and lusty sauce speaks to us with all the accents of Provence. It seems barely tamed by civilization and still full of secrets. Do we make too much of it? Try it for yourself and see. Stuff it into sun-ripened tomatoes, hard-cooked eggs, or grilled baby eggplants. Thin it slightly and offer it as a dip for crudités, or toss it with cold pasta. In the heat of summer its flavor seems online logical; in winter it stirs memories of summer warmth.


About 1 1/2 cups


1/2 cup imported black olives, such as alfonso or kalamata, pitted
1/4 cup imported green olives, such as Sicilian, pitted
4 anchovy fillets
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons caper, thoroughly drained
2 tablespoons oil-packed tuna, drained
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup fresh basil leaves, rinsed and patted dry, or more to taste (see Note)
1/4 cup best-quality olive oil
*1/2 cup Homemade Mayonnaise (Optional. Recipe below)


  1. Combine the black and green olives, anchovy fillets, garlic, capers, tuna, lemon juice, and basil in a food processor. Process until smooth.
  2. With the motor still running, dribble in the oil to make a thick, fluffy sauce. For a lighter sauce, ideal for raw vegetables, blend in the mayonnaise.
  3. Taste, and correct the seasoning. Scrape the dip into a bowl and cover. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Tapenade will keep, refrigerated, for 1 week.

Note: If fresh basil is not available, substitute 1 cup fresh parsley leaves and 2 teaspoons dried basil.

Homemade Mayonnaise

Luscious and versatile; ready in minutes. Use very high quality, fresh eggs.


2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cups corn oil or other vegetable oil, or best-quality olive oil


  1. Combine the egg yolks, whole egg, mustard, salt, freshly ground black pepper, and half of the lemon juice in a food processor. Process for 1 minute.
  2. With the motor running, dribble in the oil in a slow steady stream. When you have added all the oil, shut the motor off and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  3. Taste the mayonnaise. Correct the seasoning if necessary; if you are using vegetable oil, you will probably need the remaining lemon juice. Scrape the mayonnaise into a storage container, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use. The mayonnaise will keep safely, if refrigerated, for at least 5 days. Let it return to room temperature before stirring and using.

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