Green olives with pimiento (Recipe: olive tapenade)
Updated October 2011.
"Shaken, not stirred." Quick — name the dashing spy whose signature drink is a vodka martini garnished with a green olive with pimiento.
It's James Bond, of course, in all of his incarnations (though I confess that Sean Connery's Agent 007 makes my heart go pitter-patter).
You've got to admire the person who first thought to stuff a bit of red pimiento into a green olive -- tangy, tasty, color-coordinated... I haven't been able to find out who invented the stuffed olive, but it's likely that the idea originated in Spain, which produces both olives and peppers.
Freshly picked (green) olives are incredibly bitter. To render them palatable, they're soaked in an alkaline solution to remove bitter tannins, then in water to leach out impurities, and finally in a salt brine, where they ferment. When the pH drops to 3.7 and the lactic acid exceeds 5%, the olives are ready for bottling.
Balancing out the tartness of the olive, sweet red pepper (pimiento in Spanish) makes an ideal stuffing. After harvesting, the peppers are placed in brine, then ground and mixed with gelling agents to make a reconstituted paste. The paste is cut and formed into ribbons that look like strips of real pepper, and fed into pitting and stuffing machines. The machines pit the olives, cut the pimiento to fit, and stuff them — at the rate of more than 1,000 per hour.
Just for fun, because I had both green olives and a can of piquillo peppers in my pantry, I tried stuffing them by hand.
Turns out I can wriggle little pieces of pimiento into 30 olives in an hour ... but I can go to the grocery store, buy a giant jar of stuffed olives, and be back in my kitchen in under 30 minutes.
Makes 1 cup.
2 15-oz cans pitted black olives
1 16-oz jar green olives with red pimiento, whole or chopped
1 Tbsp capers
2 large cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp olive oil
Large pinch of kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
Couldn’t be easier. Put everything in a food processor and pulse until olives are minced and all ingredients are combined. Add additional olive oil if desired to achieve a smoother texture.
More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Moroccan cucumber salad with herbs and olives
Chicken with preserved lemon tagine
Whole wheat orzo with cucumber, mint, feta, olives and zahtar vinaigrette
Spaghetti with basil pesto, tomato and olives
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Lentil salad with green olives, red bell pepper, green onion and Greek oregano, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Black olive bread, from The Cooking Photographer
Muffuletta panini, from Panini Happy
Chicken salad with green olives, celery, and a green onion, from Got No Milk
Mediterranean olive hummus, from Pinch My Salt