The Glorious Olive
Olives are quite possibly the world’s most perfect food! David Wolfe has written in his book The Sunfood Diet Success System if he had to pick one fruit to live on for the rest of his life, it would be the olive. The Romans believed the olive to be an incredibly sexual fruit, an aphrodisiac, especially when eaten in large quantities. Once you delve into the olive, you will become privy to the great Mediterranean secret of health, happiness, and longevity. The olive is a magical fruit. But the olive remains a mystery…to almost everyone. Consider the power and benefits of the olive. The raw olive is:
- The highest fruit in minerals!
- The highest fruit in calcium. Olives contain twice as much calcium as oranges by weight.
- High in magnesium.
- High in amino acids, including: leucine, aspartic acid, and glutaminic acid.
- An alkaline fruit.
- A fatty fruit (mostly monounsaturated fat).
- An alkaline fat source.
- Loaded with beneficial omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.
- High in vitamins A and E.
- In possession of many antioxidant properties. Antioxidants deactivate free radicals allowing us to live longer, overcome illness, and maintain more acute mental and muscular faculties.
- Available in different varieties, which fruit all year around.
- Pressable into a powerful oil, usable in a limitless number of ways all year around.
- Able to soothe the mucous membranes with its oil.
In addition to all this, olives have the greatest propensity of any fruit to dissolve toxic mucus in the system!
Photo by Cristina Printon.
Here’s a glimpse at the various types of olives:
- Nicoise: These small, brownish-black beauties come from Nice in France. They’re brine-cured and a key ingredient in a Nicoise salad, with tuna, potatoes and green beans.
- Picholine: Higher in price than most, these mild green olives from France are cured in a salt brine that results in a rich delicate flavour. They are wonderful for eating out of hand, but can be marinated to add more layers of flavour.
- Provencal: These are picholines marinated with herbes de Provence.
- Ligurian: From Northern Italy, these are small brownish black (or gray) salt-brine-cured olives with a lively flavour.
- Calabresi: Another lively Italian, but these are green and medium-size.
- Cerignola: (pronounced chair-in-yola) Big mild monsters with a gentle flavour, much less salty than other Italian varieties. Sometimes called Christmas olives because some producers dye them red and green for holidays.
- Kalamata: Perhaps the most widely known from Greece, these black olives are brine and vinegar cured and packed with vinegar. Because of their strong flavour, they work well in cooked dishes and tapenades.
- Naflion: Another Greek version in green, cracked, brine-cured then packed in olive oil. Milder than kalamatas, but also great for green tapenades.
- Green Cracked: These can come from any anywhere. The idea is that the olive is cracked slightly to allow the marinade to penetrate the flesh. Because the crack allows the olives to pick up flavour quickly, these are good to marinate yourself.
- Oil-Cured Moroccan: Wrinkled black olives with a slightly bitter flavour that mellows with age, these have been dry-cured in salt and rubbed with oil. You won’t need to keep these in brine.
Olives A to Z
We asked olive lovers what they do with their olives and compiled their suggestions into this list of ideas — cooking with olives from A to Z.
- A. A quick APPETIZER: Roll out frozen puff pastry dough. Cover with a layer of chopped olives or tapenade and roll up jelly-roll style. Slice into rounds, place on a cookie sheet and bake 15 minutes at 400 degrees or until golden brown.
- B. Parboil BROCCOLI florets and drain. Saute in olive oil with minced garlic and toss with chopped kalamata olives.
- C. CAPONATA is basically a ratatouille with olives (and perhaps capers). In a skillet, sauté in olive oil:
1 chopped onion
½ cup chopped celery
1 pound diced tomatoes
Simmer for 10 minutes and then stir in:
2 Tbs. capers
½ cup green olives
½ cup red wine vinegar
Simmer another 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Great with grilled tuna.
- D. Thin tapenade with a fruity olive oil and serve as a DIPPING sauce for bread.
- E. The classic combination — olives and EGG salad sandwiches.
- F. FISH — tapenade goes wonderfully with tuna or cod. In general, use green olives for white-fleshed fish and black olives with more assertive fish, such as sardines.
- G. GREEK salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, onion slices, Feta and Greek olives in an oregano-spiked vinaigrette.
- H. Stir chopped kalamatas into HUMMUS.
- I. What could be more ITALIAN than puttanesca sauce? In olive oil, sauté ):
1 chopped onion with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes
6 rinsed anchovy fillets
2 cups sliced pitted kalamata olives
1/4 cup chopped capers
4 cloves minced garlic
4 large diced tomatoes
Simmer for 10 minutes and serve over pasta.
1 lb. pancetta, chopped into small pieces
kalamata olives, & green one sometimes, chopped into small pieces
capers, chopped into small pieces
Fry pancetta (or bacon) until done. Spoon off fat. Add the olives & capers and enough olive oil to make a sauce. Serve over your pasta and add fresh grated parmigiano-reggiano or your favourite Italian cheese.
- J. Open JAR. Eat. Watch where you spit those pits.
- K. KALAMATA focaccia (for cheaters): Roll out thawed frozen bread dough, let it rise a little, then poke dimples in it with your fingers. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with chopped fresh rosemary, and mash pitted, halved kalamata olives into the top. Bake in a 375-degree oven for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
- L. Cover a boneless LEG OF LAMB with tapenade and roast.
- M. Stick pitted large green or black olives on the tip of each finger and amuse your guests. MUNCH each one.
- N. NIBBLE on crostini (toasted French or Italian bread slices) smeared with tapenade. Makes a nice edible garnish for a salad.
- O. OLIVE salad, a variation of tapenade, is what makes muffalettas so wonderful. Keep some on hand for any sandwich. Mix together:
3 cloves minced garlic
1 cup chopped pimiento-stuffed green olives
1 cup chopped kalamata olives
1 chopped roasted red pepper
1 cup olive oil
3 Tbs. chopped Italian parsley
2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
- P. Stir chopped kalamatas into mashed POTATOES. Makes a great side dish for lamb.
- Q. Toss pitted olives onto the top of your favourite QUICHE and bake as usual.
- R. Leftover cooked RICE or orzo? Mix with chopped olives, tomatoes, hard-cooked eggs (quartered), anchovy fillets, chopped parsley and your favourite vinaigrette.
- S. Spread tapenade on your toast “soldiers” for dunking. Or mix chopped olives into SCRAMBLED eggs.
- T. A classic TAPENADE: In a blender or food processor, mix:
4 rinsed anchovy fillets
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
2 Tbs. minced capers
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
Blend or grind until thoroughly mixed.
- U. UNDER the skin of chicken breasts, stuff tapenade. Roast or bake chicken.
- V. VODKA martini. Use green olives, preferably several, speared on a tiny plastic sword.
- W. Make a WRAP: Spread cream cheese on a tortilla and sprinkle with chopped or sliced green olives. Roll up and slice in half as a sandwich, or in rounds for hors d’oeuvres.
- X. X-TRA olives on your pizza.
- Y. Olive YOGHURT? Yikes! Maybe not.
- Z. ZUCCHINI tart: In a partially prebaked pie shell, spread black olive tapenade along the bottom. Saute thinly sliced zucchini in olive oil with a sprinkle of herbes de Provence until soft, and spread zucchini slices on top of tapenade in pie shell. Top with shredded gruyere or Parmesan cheese and bake until cheese melts.
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