29 Aug

Hats off to a handful of olives

By Judy Schultz,
Photograph by : Chris Schwarz,

Olives are the queen of all pickles. Try mixing blanched and unblanched almonds with a selection of mixed olives. Put them all together in a flat container with a rim, heat briefly (40 seconds) in a microwave, and serve.

Here are 10 of the best olives available in good bulk sections.

  • Amphissa: Tender, earthy and slightly tart, use this olive in tapenade spreads, meaty beef stews and red sauces. The best wine pairing is a pinot noir.
  • Black Ripe: The American classic, plump, mild, a favourite on pizza.
  • Cerignola: Big, green, buttery, this is a great olive to marinate and serve with appetizers, along with sauvignon blanc.
  • Gaeta: Meaty, oily, intense, the ultimate Italian olive is well suited to slow-cooked stews, braised dishes, hearty zinfandels.
  • Green Ripe: Slightly saltier than black ripe. Absorbs the flavours of other foods. A good addition to chicken or tuna salad. A natural snack if Caesars or gin and tonic are your favourite tipples.
  • Kalamata: A Greek classic, dark and intense; completes a Greek salad.
  • Niçoise: Nutty, fragrant and firm, goes well in fish dishes, with tuna in a salade niçoise, or as a simple nibbler for apéritifs. Goes well with pinot grigio.
  • Picholine: Creamy, nutty and perfectly chewy, this is the ideal choice for savoury snacks and antipasto platters. Serve it with a dry white wine.
  • Spanish: Sour, slightly lemony, ideal for casseroles like Moroccan chicken.
  • Spanish stuffed: Essential for a martini, these are firm, juicy, equally at home on devilled eggs or (yes) crackers with cheese.

Two quick olive tricks:

  • Toss sliced black olives with a fresh tomato sauce for spaghettini, or with crushed garlic, olive oil and a good dash of chopped parsley for pasta aglio olio.
  • Tapenade: Whiz a cup of ripe olives in the blender with a teaspoon of capers, two cloves of garlic, the juice and grated rind of half a lemon, pepper to taste and a drizzle of good olive oil. Spread on crackers or bruschetta, or toss with hot pasta and freshly chopped parsley.

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