In almost every Spanish kitchen, you’ll find marinated olives. Perhaps prepared to an old family recipe, or simply with leftover herbs and spices. Because marinating olives is one of the easiest ways to create a delicious treat brimming with all your favourite flavours. Once you see how easy it is (and taste the results!) you’ll be marinating olives like a true Mediterranean.
Of course, it’s not only in Spain that marinating olives is popular. You can take flavour inspiration from every corner of this sunshine-filled region. As well as Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Greece, there are the north African influences such as Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt, whilst Turkey and Syria add an eastern Mediterranean taste. If you’re particularly keen on cuisine from one area, or are creating a themed dinner, try adding marinated olives to your spread with country-specific flavours. You’ll find some ideas a little later on!
Whatever flavours you choose, there are a few things you’ll always need. So, what are the essential ingredients for marinating olives? Well, first up, there are the olives! You can use any of your favourites. Think about textures, and whether you want olives from a particular country. For example, kalamata olives from Greece or Spanish Manzanilla olives. Consider mixing up black and green olives to give variety and visual appeal too. You’ll also need good quality olive oil and somewhere to store your marinated olives. A Kilner jar or similar is perfect.
Marinating olives is really easy. But when you’re getting started, following a recipe may help you to build confidence. There are loads of tasty ways to enjoy olives on our website, including ideas for marinades. So that’s a great place to start! How about Chorizo & Garlic Marinated Olives or Italian Inspired Mixed Marinated Olives? Or get fresh, zesty flavours with Citrus Marinated Olives (an ideal accompaniment to white fish).
Once you’ve got the basics, making your own marinades is easy. It’s simply a matter of choosing your olives, a generous helping of quality olive oil, and combining your favourite flavours. Get creative and experiment with flavours. But don’t be afraid to keep it simple too. A focus on one or two key aromas can create a beautifully tasty result.
1) Herbs & Spices
Get ready with garlic, chilli, the contents of your herb garden and spice rack. You could choose flavours a specific region is known for. Harissa, cumin, lemon and chilli give a taste of the north African Mediterranean. For Italian flavour, try basil, oregano and garlic – you could add even sundried tomatoes to add colour and interest alongside your olives. Of course, choosing your own favourite flavours is a great option too!
Another way to add country-specific flavour is to marinate olives along with a nation’s cheese. Try Feta with Greek olives, Manchego for a Spanish feel, or Italian mozzarella balls. Go for bite-sized pieces similar to the size of your olives.
3) Cured Meats
Marinated olives are often served up with cured meats. But you can also try adding chunks of salami, chorizo or similar meats to your marinade mix. Or for a super quick and easy way to get that flavour, use Fragata olives filled with Chorizo.
Lemon and olives are a classic combination. This works particularly well with fish dishes, but can add a fresh take to any table. Orange works well too. Try adding peel and zest as well as juice. Lemon-lovers could also use Fragata olives filled with Lemon to increase the citrussy aromas.
You’ll need an airtight container to store your marinated olives in. A glass jar is ideal, and can look elegant too. Once you’ve prepared your marinated olives, pop them in the fridge. Some people recommend leaving them overnight, or even for 24 hours, to allow the flavours to combine before tucking in. Depending on the ingredients you’ve chosen, you can keep your marinated olives in the fridge for up to a few weeks. Although when they’re so handy to snack on, they might not last that long!
Get in the habit of marinating olives and you’ll always have a quick way to liven up your mealtimes. Enjoy with a mezze platter, to liven up a cheeseboard, as a side to almost anything, or simply as an evening snack. They also look amazing on a buffet table or as an appetiser at a party.
Marinated olives also make a delicious, hand-made gift. You can use the recipient’s favourite flavours or cuisine theme, pick a stylish jar, and add a ribbon or hand-written label. You can even make one large batch and have a handful of thoughtful gifts to give away in no time. Just don’t forget to keep some aside for yourself too!