Friday 14 October 2011

Spanish olives review

When I was younger, I used to think I didn't like olives. Green ones always seemed hard and bitter and the black sliced ones on pizza were always tasteless and dried out. Several years later, I was nevertheless tempted to try some olives from a French market stall which offered various flavours of olives, glistening in seasoned oils that smelt divine, and I discovered that they can in fact be soft, juicy and packed with flavour. On our holidays to Turkey and Tunisia, we found them so juicy and delicious that we added some to our buffet plate at every meal, even breakfast ! So when I was offered the chance to try some Spanish olives, I was keen to see how they'd measure up.

The Olives from Spain website has some fascinating facts that I didn't know :

As the world's number one olive producer and exporter, Spain's reputation for high quality, great-tasting olives is second to none.

•Spain produces 500,000 tonnes per year, that's almost 30% of the world's olive production.

•60% of the total production is exported to over 120 countries.

•40% is commercialised in Spain, used in households (75%) and restaurants/hotels (25%).

•Spain is the world’s leading producer of table olives (30%), followed some way behind by Egypt (13%), Turkey (10%), Syria (8%), etc.


We received two jars of olives to try, the first of which was labelled Manzanilla Green Olives Stuffed With Piquillo Pimiento. That's pretty much the only English you will find on the jar though, as everything else is in Spanish. I always love it when the packaging looks totally authentic and exotic and allows you to feel like you've been doing some virtual travelling. I'm sure it's purely psychological but it always makes the products taste better !

The Pimiento del Piquillo isn't at all spicy but it offers a lovely contrast in flavour and colour to the olives. Stuffed olives always look extra special when served in a little dish for apƩritifs or tapas. Perfect for healthy nibbles in front of the Tv in place of crisps, biscuits or chocolate.

The second jar was what made us go wow - we've never seen such huge olives before ! They're so big, you literally need just two or three per serving and it's great to have something to gnaw on, chewing the juicy flesh off the stone. If you really want to impress your guests at a dinner party, these are definitely the ones with wow-factor.

The Olives from Spain website again surprised me, coming up with some very surprising recipes using olives, even with chocolate ! They say : "Not only are they versatile and delicious, Spanish olives also have a nutritional balance of healthy fats, fibre, vitamins and minerals. With each handful packed with goodness, olives are fast becoming the must-have ingredient in modern cooking". Well, feast your eyes on these recipes (and let me know if you're brave enough to try the chocolate one out !)



■1 pork loin

■12-15 black or green Spanish olives

■4 shallots

■2 tablespoons of whole grain mustard

■Extra virgin olive oil

■1 glass of wine

■Potato straws


Peel the shallots. Rub the meat and shallots with oil and place in a roasting tin.

Preheat the oven to 250°C and roast for half an hour for a typical half-kilo cut. Baste the meat from time to time with its own fat.

Remove from the oven and season with salt and pepper.

Pour the wine into the roasting tin, deglaze and reduce for a minute.

Liquidise the sauce.

Add the chopped olives and mustard to the sauce, simmer gently for 2 minutes, correct for salt and set aside.

Carve the meat and make packages with the potato straws. Pour the sauce to one side.

The sauce can be served hot or cold.




- 320-400 g of pasta (a short-cut pasta is better)

- 1 kg of ripe tomatoes

- 1 cup of halved green and black olives

- 2 tablespoons of chopped capers

- 1 tablespoon of Modena vinegar

- 1 tablespoon of sugar

- 3 tablespoons of virgin olive oil


Peel and halve the tomatoes, and place in an oiled oven dish.

Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle over the sugar and capers.

Drizzle with the oil and vinegar.

Roast in a pre-heated oven at 250° C for around 20 or 30 minutes until well cooked.

Remove the dish from the oven, cut up the tomatoes, add the olives and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes.

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. Drain and serve with the sauce.




Half a block of dark chocolate

15 green Spanish olives

1 tsp pink peppercorns


Halve the olives.

Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie. Spoon dollops of chocolate onto a sheet of greaseproof paper. In the centre of each dollop, arrange the olives and pink peppercorns, place another sheet of paper on top and press lightly to form small discs.

Place the paper in the freezer for a few minutes until the chocolate solidifies. Remove and peel off the sheets of paper. Refrigerate until ready to serve.




1 sea bass of approximately 1.5 to 1.7kg

5 black olives

1 onion

1 green pepper

1 red pepper

1 ripe tomato

2 cloves of garlic

1 sprig of thyme

1 sprig of summer savoury

1 glass of white wine

· 3 tablespoons of tomato sauce

Virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper


Peel the onions and cut into strips.

Wash and chop up the peppers.

Heat 3 or 4 soupspoons of virgin olive oil in a frying pan and soften the onions, peppers and unpeeled garlic cloves.

Peel and dice the tomato and add to the pan with the olives and the sprigs of savoury and thyme. Allow to simmer.

Add the tomato sauce.

Place the filleted sea bass on top of the vegetables. Pour over the wine and cook for another 7 minutes, covered, until the fish takes on a glossy white colour and flakes easily.

Serve the sea bass on a bed of the vegetables




20 fresh anchovies

15 pitted green olives

1 onion

½ tomato

1 teaspoon of breadcrumbs

Eggs for batter

Flour for batter

Virgin olive oil for frying



Wash, cut open and bone the anchovies. Wash and finely chop the onion. Chop the olives. Peel and dice the tomato.

Soften the onion in a frying pan in 2 soupspoons of oil.

Once softened, add the tomato and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the olives to the mixture and sprinkle over a teaspoon of breadcrumbs. Stir and set aside.

Place a spoonful of the stuffing on an open anchovy, covering with a second open anchovy. Batter with egg and flour and fry gently until golden.

Serve with chopped black olives mixed with a few spoonfuls of olive oil, a few drops of vinegar and a pinch of paprika. Garnish with marjoram, oregano or fresh basil.


for more information and recipe ideas :

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1 comment:

  1. I love olives but no-one else in my house will eat them so I have to get those Tesco pots to eat on my own. Some of those recipes look lovely, not sure about the chocolate though~!


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