7 Jan 2010

Olives - The Taste of the Mediterranean

Olives are a great addition to most savoury meals and have been popular since Ancient times. They are fruits of the Olea europaea tree and native to the Mediterranean region. Many types of olives are available in stores but basically they fall into either the unripe green olive or the ripe black olive category. They are usually available whole, pitted or stuffed in bottles or tins. Sun-dried olives are becoming popular as well.

They cannot be eaten right off of the tree due to their bitterness, so they need to be cured. This is done in various ways like oil-curing, lye curing and brine-curing. Everyone has their particular favourite olive type, mine remains the plain, organic, spring water and sea salt cured, large, green olive.

Olives are a great low calorie, low fat food being only +/-7 calories per olive depending on size. The fatty acids in olives are 75% monounsaturated. Olives are also a good source of vitamin E, iron, copper, and dietary fiber. They have many health benefits. The monounsaturated fats in olives combined with their vitamin E and polyphenols gives excellent anti-oxidant protection, reduces inflammation, and prevents the oxidation of cholesterol in the body. Olives are also said to be excellent in alleviating the severity of arthritis and the side effects of menopause.

Once opened a bottle of olives should be refrigerated. They should be used up within a couple of weeks. To pit an olive just press down on it with the flat side of a knife until you feel the pit pop out. 


The whole Mediterranean ... the wine, the ideas ... seems 
to ride in the sour pungent taste of those black olives ...
A taste older than meat, older than wine. 
A taste as old as cold water.
Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990)


Stir-Frei Pad Thai (Raw Food)
From Rawganique
Pad Thai is a classic Thai dish that just got a rawsome facelift! Your guests will appreciate this dish. Pad Thai means Thai stir-fry; Thai means 'free' in Thai and 'free' is 'frei' in German; hence, stir-frei (be free!) Pad Thai.

1/16 cup ginger
1/3 cup hemp oil
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 1/2 tsps tamarind (no salt or additives)
juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic
3 black olives (pitted, raw, organic, sun-dried, salted OK)
1 medium tomato, sliced
1 handful crimini or other mushrooms, quartered
Nama Shoyu, 3 tsps or to taste
4 zucchinis
2 cucumbers

Blend the ginger, olive oil, coriander seeds, tamarind, lemon juice, olives, and garlic in a high speed blender such as the Champ HP3 until well liquefied. Turn the zucchinis and cucumbers into fine angel hair spaghetti with the Spiral Slicer and toss the resulting 'noodles' with the sauce. Add Nama Shoyu (unpasteurized soy sauce) to taste. Garnish with a sprig of parsley as well as tomato & crimini mushroom slices and red bell pepper rings on the side. Enjoy!

Winter Cabbage Wraps with Garlic-Ginger Dip (Raw Food)
From Karen Knowler, The Raw Food Chef's Newsletter ~ sign up for some great ideas
Raw cabbage? Not necessarily my idea of fun - or at least it wasn't until I tried this recipe! Cabbage doesn't always "feel" right in summer, but at this time of year when lettuce loses some appeal, this is the perfect replacement. I invite you to suspend disbelief long enough to make this and eat it... you'll be very glad you did! ~ Karen

For the wraps:
white cabbage leaves
black pitted olives
coriander (cilantro)

For the dip:
olive oil
lemon juice
lime juice (optional)
coriander (cilantro)
fresh ginger

To make the wraps: Open the cabbage leaf and make a thick column of avocado slices down the middle, leaving a fair amount of space either side. Pile on slices of fresh tomato, pieces of black pitted olives and top with a generous amount of fresh coriander.
To make the dip: Pour a small amount (about 3 tablespoons) of olive oil into a small bowl. Add the juice of half a lemon, and, if you have one, the juice of a lime. 3) Add about 20 stalks of finely chopped fresh coriander, a small piece of ginger finely chopped, and half a bulb of garlic, finely chopped. Add water to make the mixture less oily, but obviously do not water it down too much, or the taste will be spoiled. Serve the dip in a tiny dipping bowl and your cabbage wraps laid open or secured with a cocktail stick. Prepare for true winter decadence.Use this dip to give an oriental twist to the cabbage wraps.

Tapenade (Raw Food)
From Dr McDougall's Newsletter
This tapenade makes a wonderfully flavourful sandwich spread. It’s also a wonderful dip with crackers or baked pita chips for parties.

1 cup pitted kalamata olives
1 small clove garlic, smashed and peeled
2 tbsps capers
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
3 tbsps roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tbsps water

Pop the garlic through the feed tube of a food processor and process until minced. Add the rest of the ingredients all at once and pulse until nearly smooth, yet still has some texture.

Orange and Black Olive Salad (Raw Food)
From Family Oven
Mint and coriander infuse this orange and black olive salad with Mediterranean flavors. Serves 4.

5 Valencia or navel oranges
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
2 tbsps chopped pitted black olives
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp ground coriander
pinch of sugar
salt to taste
lettuce leaves

With a sharp knife, remove skin and white pith from oranges and discard. Working over a bowl, cut orange segments from their surrounding membranes and let them fall into the bowl. Squeeze any remaining juice from the membranes into the bowl. Add mint, olives, oil, garlic, coriander and sugar. Season with salt and toss gently. Serve on lettuce leaves.

Mediterranean Flatbread Pizza
By Chef Jason Wyrick From the Vegan Culinary Experience

1 cup. of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed
¼ cup of water
¼ cup of tahini
¼ cup of olive oil
¼ tsp. of salt
1/8 tsp. of cayenne pepper
1 tsp. of lemon juice
20 pitted Kalamata olives
1tbsp. of fresh tarragon leaves
1 flatbread crust

Blend together the garbanzo beans, water, tahini, olive oil, salt, and lemon juice until it is smooth. [*Note that not all blenders work the same, so you may have to adjust the water content to get this smooth.] Spread the blend over the flatbread crust, leaving about ½” of the crust exposed. Sprinkle the cayenne pepper over the spread. Place the olives evenly on top of the spread. Bake the pizza on 350F/175C for 50 minutes or until the crust is golden. Remove the pizza from the oven. Sprinkle the fresh tarragon leaves over the pizza just before serving (do not use dried tarragon). The flavors of this pizza go well with most Middle Eastern drinks. Try a cinnamon tea or Arabic coffee.


Mihl said...

Happy new year, Jackie!

Olives are definitely one of my favourite foods! They add so much flavour to everything. Right now I have a bread with olive paste in the oven.

Marion said...

Happy New Year and beyond, Jackie!

I love tapenade. Next year, I may make a batch and give it as Christmas presents. Your recipe sounds like a good one.

It is difficult to find a good variety of olives here...I miss those great Olive bars in the grocery stores on the Coast! I will have to remember to bring some back with me next time I visit the grandkids.

Berenjeno said...

Funny sidenote: did you know that in Russian, they have two completely different words for "green olives" and "black olives", as if they were different things?

Jane-Anne said...

I love the sound of the salad of oranges and black olives. Perfect for a really blistering summer's day.

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Pablo from Argentina

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