There are so many varieties of olives available today. It’s valuable to sample and taste them to find favorites. Certainly olives belong with cheeses and roasted vegetables as an appetizer, but they have many applications within recipes for memorable meals.
A sweeter olive, such as the Italian Cerignola olive, pairs well with tart, earthy goat cheese. Bake them into a quiche together. The nutty flavor of tiny French Niçoise olives is perfect for the renowned Niçoise salad with oily tuna and hard-cooked eggs, roasted red peppers and green beans. Fruity, salty Picholine olives from the South of France pair well with Provolone cheese. And the classic Kalamata olive from Greece is delicious with lemon and feta cheese, with sun-dried tomatoes, or even baked into bread or used as a pizza topping.
Native to the Mediterranean region, olives and their oil figure prominently in cuisines from each country where they are grown. Try the Spanish Manzanillo olives with raisins in a dish that features chicken, tomatoes and shaved Manchego cheese. Bright green Castelvetrano olives from Sicily provide a variation on the salty, sweet, bitter theme, and work well in a salad with navel or blood orange sections.
The sweet oranges, bitter greens, and salty olives make a great combination in the accompanying recipe for Orange and Olive Salad. Or try the following chicken dish, a recent favorite from cooking classes.