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July 24, 2006

Green olives with pimiento (Recipe: olive tapenade) {vegan}

Olive tapenade, a quick and easy appetizer. #vegan

"Shaken, not stirred." Quick — name the dashing spy whose signature drink is a vodka martini garnished with a green olive with pimiento.

It's James Bond, of course, in all of his incarnations (though I confess that Sean Connery's Agent 007 makes my heart go pitter-patter).

You've got to admire the person who first thought to stuff a bit of red pimiento into a green olive -- tangy, tasty, color-coordinated... I haven't been able to find out who invented the stuffed olive, but it's likely that the idea originated in Spain, which produces both olives and peppers.

Green olives

Freshly picked (green) olives are incredibly bitter. To render them palatable, they're soaked in an alkaline solution to remove bitter tannins, then in water to leach out impurities, and finally in a salt brine, where they ferment. When the pH drops to 3.7 and the lactic acid exceeds 5%, the olives are ready for bottling.

Balancing out the tartness of the olive, sweet red pepper (pimiento in Spanish) makes an ideal stuffing. After harvesting, the peppers are placed in brine, then ground and mixed with gelling agents to make a reconstituted paste. The paste is cut and formed into ribbons that look like strips of real pepper, and fed into pitting and stuffing machines. The machines pit the olives, cut the pimiento to fit, and stuff them — at the rate of more than 1,000 per hour.

Just for fun, because I had both green olives and a can of piquillo peppers in my pantry, I tried stuffing them by hand.

Turns out I can wriggle little pieces of pimiento into 30 olives in an hour ... but I can go to the grocery store, buy a giant jar of stuffed olives, and be back in my kitchen in under 30 minutes.

Olive tapenade, an easy make-ahead appetizer.

Tapenade

From the pantry, you'll need: black olives, capers, garlic, olive oil, kosher salt, fresh black pepper.

Makes 1 cup.

Ingredients

2 15-oz cans pitted black olives
1 16-oz jar green olives with red pimiento, whole or chopped
1 Tbsp capers
2 large cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp olive oil
Large pinch of kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions

Couldn’t be easier. Put everything in a food processor and pulse until olives are minced and all ingredients are combined. Add additional olive oil if desired to achieve a smoother texture.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]


More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Vinegar veggies
Moroccan cucumber salad with herbs and olives
Chicken with preserved lemon tagine
Whole wheat orzo with cucumber, mint, feta, olives and zahtar vinaigrette
Spaghetti with basil pesto, tomato and olives

Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Lentil salad with green olives, red bell pepper, green onion and Greek oregano, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Black olive bread, from The Cooking Photographer
Muffuletta panini, from Panini Happy
Chicken salad with green olives, celery, and a green onion, from Got No Milk
Mediterranean olive hummus, from Pinch My Salt

Comments

I love these! I chop them and throw them on top of pizza or pasta with tomatoes - scrumptious!

Catherine, welcome to The Perfect Pantry! Here's another pizza idea: spread this tapenade on pizza dough, and top with sliced tomatoes and mozzarella, maybe some fresh basil leaves, a drizzle of olive oil. Oh so good.....

Here's another use for olives. Drain the brine of 1 jar of olives and replace with dry vermouth. For a very dry martini, drop 1 or 2 olives in a martini glass and fill with ice cold vodka or gin.

hi lydia,

i'm a fan of the green olive also. they're great over swordfish or pasta. try this for a summer dish (from an old issue of gourmet)
hope you're well:)

Swordfish with Green Olive Relish

For relish
1/4 cup drained bottled pimiento-stuffed green olives
1 small garlic clove, minced and mashed to a paste with a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

two 6-ounce swordfish steaks (each about 1 inch thick)
olive oil for brushing swordfish

Prepare grill.
Make relish:
In a food processor pulse olives until chopped fine. Add remaining relish ingredients and pulse until olives are minced.

Brush both sides of swordfish with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill fish on a rack set 5 to 6 inches over glowing coals 4 minutes on each side, or until just cooked through. (Alternatively, fish may be grilled in a hot well-seasoned ridged grill pan over moderate heat.)

Serve swordfish topped with relish.

Melina, welcome to The Perfect Pantry. Thanks for sharing this recipe -- I adore swordfish and this sounds divine. Maybe I'll have to brave the heat and get to the fish market.....

Pauline, I'm giggling!

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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