Special Feature


Cooking with Olives and Their Oils

Spicy California Sicilian-Style Olives
Olive-Parmesan Cocktail Crescents

Olives Cookbook

The Mediterranean Food inverted pyramid is the revolutionary diet plan that lowers cholesterol and heightens health. Olive oil is touted as a 6500 year-old miracle cure, a natural storehouse of vitamins A, E, D, and K, used to heal wounds, enliven skin cells, restore metabolic balance and invigorate the circulatory system. Experts say olive oil reduces cholesterol because of the preponderance of HDL's (high density lipoproteins-the "good cholesterol"). So take those olives off the relish tray and bite into Olives by Ford Rogers.

Ford Rogers, a master of one subject cookbooks, casts his expert eye to this majestic fruit (yes, it's a fruit!) Olive importers say that the demand for olives has multiplied five fold over the past five years. Tunisia is a leading producer of olive oil in the world, followed by Greece and Spain and one out of every eight Tunisians works in the olive industry. Olives embraces this popularity with a gorgeous book. It is seasoned with lovely paintings by Linda St. Clair, over 50 recipes, an olive oil glossary, lists of sources, olive organizations, and an olive identifier: everything from Agrinion to Kalamata-Nicoise to Sicilion Green. You'll also find tips on using and storing olives, pitting, pressing, and curing. (All uncured olives share a common flavor: a bitterness so intense that anyone foolish enough to bite into one spits it out.)

There are 75 major cultivated varieties of olives. Before you can get daunted on how to fix them, Olives does the mixing and matching for you. The Mediterranean produces 93 percent of the globe's olive trees, so it's no surprise that some of the best recipes using olives will come to the fold from Greece, Italy, Spain, and France. The recipes cover a broad spectrum of dishes from appetizers and hors d'oeuvres, through main and side dishes, to breads and even desserts.

Do you like your olive:

  • Appetizing? Yes, the martini
  • Well-Seasoned? Smoked salmon rolls with olive cream cheese, flavored olive oils
  • Saucy? Rice and cheese croquettes, linguini with Moroccan oil-cured olive sauce, potato cakes with manzanilla olive tartar sauce
  • With a Vegetarian Flair? Cheese tortellini salad, chick peas with spinach and royal victoria olives, spicy penne with cauliflower and alphonoso olives
  • Under Sea level? Grilled mahi-mahi with tangy black olive sauce, seviche
  • With some meat? Veal Piccata, empanadas, quiche, chorizo
  • Baked? Giant almond cookies, stuffed picnic bread, nyons olive bread, golden carrot muffins, madeleines

In ancient times, Greek armies found that olive trees wouldn't burn and their stout trunks resisted the ax. Olives are here for the long haul and this is the book that maximizes their culinary potential.

About the Author
Prized for his work as a recipe tester, cook, food writer and stylist for several magazines, Ford Rogers is also the author of Citrus: A Cookbook, (Fireside, 1992) and Nuts: A Cookbook (Fireside, 1993). Mr. Rogers has also worked as a building superintendent and NYPD crime analyst as well as an accomplished painter and an avid traveler. Mr. Rogers' neighborhood is in Brooklyn Heights, New York.


Spicy California Sicilian-Style Olives

Spicy California Sicilian-Style Olives

Any brine-cured olive can be improved by removing it from it's brine, rinsing it, and dressing it with flavorful herbs and olive oil. This spicy version is ready to be eaten in about a week. You are actually making two condiments here, spicy olives and a flavorful oil you can use when the olives are gone. You may substitute any brine-cured green olive or alter the pepper flakes to your taste.

Preparation time: 10 minutes, plus 7 to 10 days marinating time

  • 1-1/2 pounds (675 g) California Sicilian-style olives, drained and rinsed
  • 3 strips lemon zest, about 3/4 inches by 2-1/2 inches
         (1.9 by 6.35 cm), removed with a vegetable peeler
  • 3 cloves garlic, whacked and peeled
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 medium-sized bay leaves, broken up
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) celery seeds
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil to cover
  • Sprigs of fresh thyme and oregano for garnish (optional)

Cover the bottom of a 1-quart (1L) jar with a layer of olives, a piece of lemon peel, and a garlic clove.

In a small bowl combine the thyme, oregano, pepper flakes, bay leaves, celery seeds, and black pepper. Sprinkle some of the mixture over the olives in the jar.

Continue to alternate layers of olives and herbs, interspersing the remaining lemon peel and garlic cloves, until the jar is full and the herbs are all used. Fill the jar to cover with olive oil. Allow to sit at room temperature 7 to 10 days before serving. Garnish with sprigs of fresh herbs, if desired.

If storing longer, remove garlic cloves after 10 days to 2 weeks and store up to 6 months in the refrigerator. Allow to return to room temperature before serving. When the olives have been used, strain oil, return to room temperature, and use for salad dressings, drizzling on vegetables or bruschetta, or basting grilled foods.

Makes 1 Quart (1 L)


Smoked Salmon Rolls with Olive Cream Cheese

Smoked Salmon Rolls with Olive Cream Cheese

An attractive addition to an hors d'oeuvre table, these salmon rolls look as if they were more work than they really were. I prefer nova to lox for these, simply because it's less salty, but either is okay. Tying each roll with a chive looks pretty, but they will hold together without any assistance.

Preparation time 20 minutes

  • 1/3 cup (79 ml) chopped, pitted, brine-cured green olives
  • 8 ounces (225 g) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) finely chopped fresh chives
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 8 ounces (225 g) thinly sliced smoked salmon
  • Whole chives (optional)

In a small mixing bowl, thoroughly combine the chopped olives with the cream cheese, lemon juice, chopped chives, and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Place a thin slice of salmon on the counter or board, with one of the narrow ends toward you. Place a rounded tablespoon of the olive mixture on the end nearest you and roll up in the salmon. Carefully tie a whole chive around the roll and trim ends, if desired.

Repeat with remaining salmon and cheese, arrange on a serving plate, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until serving time.


Text and Recipes from:
By Ford Rogers
Ten Speed Press, 1995
128 pages, paper
$15.95 / softcover
ISBN: 0-89815-679-3
Reprinted with permission.


About Olives and Olive Oils

Articles About Olives (with Recipes)

Olive Oil Recipes

This page originally published as a FoodDay article in 1997.

Copyright © 2007, Forkmedia LLC. All rights reserved.

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This page modified February 2007

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