Beyond the Martini: 12 Olive Varieties to Try
You're probably familiar with the chartreuse olives that accompany a Friday martini and the pitted black ones that top pizza. But there are many more varieties of the antioxidant-rich fruits—hundreds, in fact. And depending on when they're picked, how they're cured, and what marinade (if any) is used, the little nibblers can taste, feel, and look vastly different.
Manzanilla olives, which hail from Sevilla, Spain, are one of the most common varieties of green olives. They're the kind you'll find in dirty martinis or jarred in a regular grocery store. Also from Spain are the more unusual Arebquina olives, which are used for Spanish olive oils. Their beige color is less obvious and their rich, slightly bitter taste a welcome surprise.
Going north, Niçoise olives from France are perfect for—you guessed it!—a Niçoise salad. It's a classic dish made with those olives as well as tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, anchovies, green beans, tuna, and potatoes. It's colorful and fresh, just like the town of Nice where it originates.
Italian Gaetas, French Nyons, and Moroccan dry-cured olives all have an intensely dark, slightly wrinkly appearance. They're slick and savory and we can't get enough. Take a quick trip around the Mediterranean with us as you learn about a dozen varieties of olives that you are going to want to add to your grocery list. Many olive varieties are available in supermarkets and gourmet stores, and a bowl of any of these olives make the perfect partner to an aperitif or two. Olives are also versatile in so many recipes, not just ones with a French, Greek, Italian or Spanish slant either. So get to know your olives!
Often preserved in brine or olive oil, these smooth beauties from Kalamata, Greece, are warm and winey. They're a versatile ingredient in all kinds of Mediterranean cooking.
Khaki in color, these olives are "cracked" before being brined, then mixed with anise and fennel. The process, which takes place in Provence, France, infuses them with a robust aroma and makes them easy to pit and crush for use in sauces and pasta dishes.
An antipasto favorite, the eggplant-colored olives hail from Lazio, Italy, where their sour yet salty flesh is tossed with pastas and onto pizzas.
After ripening to a jet-black color, these olives, which come from Rhône-Alpes, France, are dry-cured, then packed in brine or oil. Their pungent aroma and meaty texture, ideal for tapenades, means they also hold up well in stews.