Olives have been eaten and the oil used since biblical times but it wasn’t until recently that they have enjoyed so much press due to their cardioprotective properties. About 1/3 of this olive is monounsaturated fatty acid, commonly refereed to as”the fantastic fat” which is thought to reduce cholesterol levels and help forbid the buildup of plaque in the arteries.
Olives are grown largely in the Mediterranean countries where they are a huge part of the diet. Studies have shown that people in the Mediterranean areas who eat a lot of olives generally have less heart disease as well as less incidence of certain kinds of cancer.
The olives that we are used to seeing in the stores and eating are not fresh olives from the trees. In their raw state, olives are quite bitter and they need to be”treated” in order to be more palatable. Different procedures of treating produce different flavors in the olives and now, there are dozens of gourmet olives widely available.
Olives can be used to add zest to any dish – but you must pick the right olive to compliment the main food. Some olives can be sour, some sweet and others earthy and rustic. Following is a guide to the different types of olives and the foods that they go best with.
Sweet Flavored Olives
Green olives with herbs de Provence have a vibrant citrus flavored and is a beautiful blend of herbs de Provence spices and large green olives. It is an excellent choice to use in surf dishes and with sweet spices.
Earthy Flavored Olives
Nicoises is a earthy rich olive commonly used in salad. The curing of the olive in red-wine vinegar gives it a distinctive flavor. The heavy flavor of the olive make it a excellent snack all by itself!
Spicy and Zesty Flavored Olives
Mount Athos green with Sicilian herbs is another olive that utilizes herbs to control the pallet. Mount Athos green filled with garlic are olives stuffed with garlic and are great to zip up a martini or inserted on top of pizza. Kalamatas olives are black olives cured in red wine vinegar which leads to a tangy taste. Alfonsos are similar in flavor to the Kalamata and are often located served in antipastos. Another olive that is similar in taste to the Alfonsos and Kalamatas is the Halkididis which makes a fantastic dip when mixed into cream cheese along with garlic. An olive which has a meaty buttery taste is the Lucques, which is great as a snack with cheese and bruchetta.