Nov 6, 2017
Most people have a love or hate relationship with olives. However, Canadians may be feeling the love with consumption increasing 150 per cent since 1990.
Technically considered a drupe – a fruit containing a pit or stone – olives are generally treated as a vegetable, like tomatoes, and consumed in savoury dishes or on their own.
Olives, olive branches and oils have contributed significantly to Mediterranean cuisine and culture – in practical and symbolic applications – for millennia.
Grown on trees, shrubs or vines, the fruit come in many varieties. Each has its own flavour profile based four characteristics:
Use olives as part of a meze, antipasto or charcuterie platter.
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Olives’ signature saltiness can be enjoyed on their own or incorporated into a meal. They pair well with most foods including meat, fish, chicken, leafy greens, sweet potatoes and rice. Try adding olives to a dish in place of salt to enhance flavour with a bold and fruity profile.
As an appetizer or snack, it can be part of an antipasto platter or in a dip like this salsa. They obviously pair well with any Mediterranean-inspired meal, including pastas, pizzas, salads and kebabs. Bake olives into bread, or add on top of bread in a tapenade – a spread or condiment made with olives, capers and olive oil. Or just enjoy olives as garnish for your martinis.
RECIPE: Tuscan Pork Kebabs
Just like grapes for wine, there are many varieties of olives. How to choose? Talk to foodie friends or taste test a mix. The following are some more common olive varieties:
Look for olives at your local Co-op Food Store. Bulk olives and other olive products can be found in the deli section, or look for canned or jarred products near the pickles.
Written by Chef Chabot
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