I love olives. I eat them as is, and in all sorts of dishes. They're high in fat, but it's the good kind; the sodium isn't too horrible if you don't go overboard; and a little goes a long way in adding flavor.
I made two olive mixtures using mostly green olives, a traditional Moroccan salad using black olives, and took advantage of the season to buy a few pounds of green olives to try curing.
Cracked Green Olive, Walnut, and Pomegranate Salad
This recipe comes from Paula Wolfert's the Cooking of The Eastern Mediterranean. She calls it an olive salad that in Turkey is used to accompany grilled meat or slices of ripe melon. I fiddled just a bit to make it slightly lower fat. I tried it with melon, on an arugula-orange salad, and on its own with pita. I think I liked it best just with pita for scooping, so it doesn't compete with any more things. I'm looking forward to trying it with simple grilled chicken or beef. This is another mixture that needs to sit so the flavors can develop, and she recommends it be made the day before serving. I thought this was a very neat combination, with salty, sweet, and tart flavors hitting the tongue at once. This is one for adventuresome eaters.
1/2 pound cracked green olives, drained
1 tsp. olive oil
1/4 cup shelled walnuts, finely chopped
2 scallions, minced
1/4 cup minced parsley
1/4 tsp. Aleppo pepper or other mild chile powder
2 tsp. pomegranate molasses (available in Middle Eastern stores)
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
cracked black pepper
1. Make the salad at least one day before serving. Pit the olives, and roughly chop.
2. Mix the olives with the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 20 hours, more is better.
3. Bring to room temperature and serve.
This is a combination of several recipes I found online. We liked this, and could also see using it with grilled vegetables, as a sandwich spread, or to top grilled fish. (This made about 1 1/2 cups tapande, and the whole recipe came in at just over 300 calories; but fairly high in sodium.)
1 can artichokes packed in water, rinsed and well drained
1/4 cup or so (more if you like) mixed pitted olives
1/2 roasted red pepper (optional-I just happened to have some on hand)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. anchovy paste
1 tsp. capers, rinsed
1-2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. ground chile powder
black pepper to taste
1 Tbs. minced parsley
Put everything in a food processor, and chop to a coarse puree. You want a bit of texture. Don't taste at this point, as the flavors need to develop.(I tasted as I made it, said, ehh, but found after a few hours it was delicious) Cover and refrigerate for at least two-three hours. Taste, add more of anything you wish. Serve with crostini, crackers, or vegetables like red peppers and fennel. I loved it with the sweet red peppers complementing the tapanade.
Moroccan Black Olive and Orange Salad
I've had this in restaurants, in homes in Israel, but had never thought to do it at home. It's a delicious Winter salad. Too simple--slice the peel off a few seedless oranges, slice thinly, arrange on arugula, and top with crushed black olives (I chopped 2 kinds of black and reddish-black olives in the food processor) and if you wish dress with a drizzle of olive oil.
Water-Cured Green Olives
So, each Fall I'd see crates of olives at my local produce store, with loads of little Italian, Greek, and Middle-Eastern grandmothers scooping them up. Olives are full of a nasty chemical called oleuropein, which makes the harvested olives horribly bitter until cured. I did some Googling, and decided I didn't want to fuss with lye, but would use a water bath for the initial curing. Essentially, you cut a slit into each olive, cover with water and a weight so the olives stay submerged, drain and soak, repeat again for 7-10 days until the bitterness is out. Then you put the olives into a brine with flavorings, and refrigerate for up to a year. I'll update when I think the olives are cured and ready for brining.