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April 4, 2010

Olives (Recipe: Moroccan cucumber salad with herbs and olives) {vegan, gluten-free}

Moroccan cucumber and olive salad

They say you can't change a man.

Call me crazy, but I'm going to try.

My friend Bob doesn't like olives, and I hope to change his mind.

Bob and his wife are part of the group of friends who taste-test the recipes I share with you. (You didn't know I have tasters?) Whenever I make something with olives, I watch him very quietly move them all to the edge of his plate. I don't take it as a rejection of my cooking, but It breaks my heart because I know that olives make everything taste better.

What would you tell Bob to convince him to give olives another chance? That they symbolize peace? That they're full of heart healthiness? That they are, in more ways than one, the food of the gods?

That you can taste the cuisines of all of the countries that border the Mediterranean with every bite of an olive?

Please tell me why you love olives, or share your favorite dish with olives. Help me change this man into an olive lover.

What are olives?
Fruits of the Olea europaea tree.

How/where to store:
Submerged in their brine, at room temperature in a covered container, but I usually store them in the refrigerator, for 2-3 months.

 

More facts about olives, and ingredient photos, on The Perfect Pantry:
Olives (Recipe: chicken with preserved lemon tagine)

Cucumberolivesalad1

Moroccan cucumber salad with herbs and olives

Adapted from Paula Wolfert’s Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco. Seedless cucumbers are a must. If you're Bob, you can omit the olives; everyone else, please include them! I buy Kalamata olives that already have the pits removed, from the salad bar at my local supermarket. Serves 6-8 as part of a tagine menu.

Ingredients

2 English cucumbers, sliced thin
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt + extra
1/4 tsp za’atar (sumac), or marjoram, thyme or oregano, or a mixture of two or three
Handful of cured black olives, pits removed, rinsed and cut in half

Directions

Lightly salt the cucumbers and let them sit in a colander set over a bowl, for 15-20 minutes. Rinse and dry, and place in a mixing bowl with remaining ingredients except olives. Mix well. Chill until ready to serve. Add olives just before serving.


More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Spaghetti with basil pesto, tomatoes and olives
Fattoush (salad of pita bread, tomato and cucumber)
Vinegar veggies
Broccoli, basil and pasta salad
Empanadas filled with chicken picadillo

Other recipes that use olives:
Olive crostini, from Simply Recipes
Arugula salad with hearts of palm, kalamata olives, and gorgonzola, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Caramelized chicken with green olives and prunes, from Chocolate & Zucchini
Healthy Swiss chard tuna salad with scallions and kalamata olives, from Farmgirl Fare
Quinoa salad with yellow tomatoes, kalamata olives, basil and mint, from Gluten-Free Goddess

Comments

Everyone told me I would prefer green olives so I spent years trying them but could never get on either them, then one day I tried a black Kalamata olive and I have been in love ever since, I even like green ones now. I feel I wasted years trying the wrong ones. My favourite are the reddish brown ones though, they taste almost like sun dried tomatoes instead so I think are a great starter olive for beginners. I also prefer olives in olive oil and not the brine ones you get in jars.

I'm on the fence about olives -- last night, I had a martini, and gobbled up 4! Then at dinner, I picked out every single olive on my plate. Go figure.

But to Tamara's point -- the different varieties have such different tastes and textures, it's worth tasting around. I tend to prefer the more mild, garlic flavored varieties.

"...you can taste the cuisines of all of the countries that border the Mediterranean with every bite of an olive"
-- AND the cuisine of California.
-- AND hence, Pacific Rim cooking. (I wondered why Italian flavors were in Pacific Rim cuisine and realized: San Francisco!)
-- AND the cuisine of New Orleans -- olive salad on a Muffeleta.
-- AND probably more!

Count me with Bob...

However, your pickle recipe has started me eating pickles (and one for pickled cauliflower).

See... old dogs...

That sounds like a wonderful contrast of tangy-cool and deep-salty. Gotta try this!

This would be a perfect side dish to my chicken-apricot tagine.

Count me among olive fans!

Oh I love this recipe, and I'm one of those people who loves olives of every type. I guess Greek Salad would be my #1 favorite dish with olives, although I never had anything with olives that I didn't love! Not sure what would convince Bob, but I will happily eat his share.

Well I adore olives and this sounds fantastic!

Tamara, kalamatas are my favorite, too. It's so nice that the olive bar at my local supermarket sells pitted kalamatas.

Julia, 4 olives, or 4 martinis?!

Mae, I love muffalettas. I make them without ham, but with something else like sliced turkey and the olive relish. Oh, delicious.

Susan, someone will come up with a recipe that gets me to eat cauliflower. Some day. We all have our things.

Heidi, if you can make it ahead, it's even better the second day.

Mimi, I've bookmarked your tagine recipe; I think it would be perfect with this salad.

Kalyn, I already pick the olives off his plate when he has dinner at my house. Like you, I love Greek salad. I eat the olives first.

Pam, do try it. It's easy and absolutely yummy.

Oh Olives- I LOVE them and I ironically made a whole olive tray to put out before dinner yesterday. (don't get me started about my love for muffaletta - always "sung to the tune of Desparado by the Eagles" in our house!)
Regarding BOB: I think it comes down to whether you are a "sweet" person or a "vinegar" person. I am the latter - therefore mustard not mayo, second helpings instead of sweet dessert.
It is a shame... some folks just don't like brine :-)

It presents as a piece of art. This was my fathers favorite. Really wanna try it.

Oooooh, this looks good. I love olives so much I started a blog about them - and their Mediterranean cohorts. We'll be having this tonight with what's left of the Easter lamb.

Hi Lydia, I love pasta salad with olives. Even bruschetta with olives is super yum. But your Moroccan salad looks good enough to convert him!

I love all kinds of olives, especially the oil cured ones. First of all, the above salad would taste fantastic without the olives as well, going by the recipe.

I am though a little uncertain whether Bob is going to like the cured black olives in this salad. The extreme taste of the cured black olives maybe not fit with this sweet and tangy cucumber salad for Bob?

Although I like the above salad as described above, for someone who is not fond of olives, the taste here may be too much of a contrast. Do let us know how he liked it.

Sri
PS: definitely on my to make list. Thanks for the lovely recipe.

Oh It is sad that your friend Bob does not love olives and I am glad that you are finding ways to convince him. I love olives! I love seeing them in the recipe you just shared, I am going to try that as soon as I can!

I have read one blog of how he made a salsa out of olives. His wife too doesn't love olives. Never in her entire life she had eaten any olives, but then when he created the olive salsa and the bake salmon recipe, her wife loved what he made out of olives. It was amazing!

Wonderful, simple recipe that I'd love to try.

There are a lot of foods I never liked to eat until recently when I started learning to cook (when I started to blog). I even have a small list of some of those foods on my blog. Olives were one of those foods. I'm not sure what happened to my taste buds but one day, I just decided that I could tolerate eating it and before I knew it, I decided that I really LIKED olives. I like some more than others. I think that it was a mental thing and once I allowed myself to enjoy the olive and other "forbidden" foods, I didn't mind the taste. I'm not sure there's anything you can say to change your friend's mind. Simply keep serving the olives to him in the various dishes. One day, he may just surprise himself and you and eat it when he discovers that's the perfect olive dish for HIM. ;-)

Paz

I don't know why I love olives, but I'm addicted. All types and varieties. And, my two year old niece who was born in Morroco eats black olives like candy!

Me, Me!!! (Holding up hand.) I want to be a taster!!! Please?

This looks so good, Lydia!

Carol, I guess Bob would be a sweet person -- though he does eat pickles, so maybe he's a sweet-and-sour?!

Brett, I do hope you try this salad. It's great.

Jean, I'm a big fan of olives of all kinds. Looking forward to some fun recipes on your new blog.

Radhika, bruschetta with olives -- and a bit of fresh mozzarella on top -- is one of my absolute favorite appetizers.

Sri, for those of us who love olives, the combination of tart olives and sweet cucumbers is unbeatable. I'm hoping Bob might try this some day... but I'm not sure I've persuaded him yet.

Kathy, it's a great idea to combine olives with salmon. Bob loves salmon.

Paz, I love your idea, and I'm definitely not giving up!

TW, how wonderful when you see a child who is not afraid to try new and interesting foods!

Bridget, oh, if only you lived a little bit closer to me -- I've love to have you with us at the tasting table.

I feel bad for anyone who doesn't like olives.....but I don't feel bad for long! More olives for me! Olives may be one of those "love 'em or hate 'em" foods. Maybe Bob could take chopped up olives in tapenade or olive salad better than whole olives where the thing you put in your mouth has a mixed flavor and texture than a single round olive by itself?

I was an olive hater for years, until last summer. A friend and I went out to dinner and we shared a salad of watermelon, arugula, and feta cheese. Every few bites, I tasted something pungent and salty and delicious - at first I thought it was just the cheese, but when I finished the salad I saw a few pieces of chopped olives at the bottom of the bowl! Ever since then, I've been trying olives whenever I see them, to make up for lost time and to figure out which ones I really like.

So I guess my advice would be... chop them up and sneak them into something where Bob won't notice until he wonders why his food tastes so good!! (Okay, maybe he won't like this idea so much - but I agree with Paz that it can be a pretty strong mental thing.)

And now that I am converted, I'll have to try your cucumber salad, which looks great.

Lol!! I have to agree with Bob. I looked at the salad even though it has olives in it, I love cucumbers, but for me it would be much better less the olives, besides they tend to be fattening. People that love olives seem to eat so many of them. I guess it comes down to, I don't even want to like them.

My favorites are the big purple Alfonso olives with Kalamatas a close second. My favorite food store, Eden Gourmet in South Orange, NJ has an olive bar where they can usually be found, along with Nicoise, and garlic and almond stuffed.... Olive heaven!

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