Black olives (Recipe: warm tomato, basil and mozzarella salad)
One bit of trivia about black olives:
The black olives you find in cans in every grocery store are Mission olives, a variety first planted by Franciscan missionaries in California, and all of the olives grown today derive from a tree at a Franciscan mission in San Diego. Mission olives, while fully ripe, don't have the sharp flavor of Mediterranean olives, in part because they're cured in lye rather than in salt. However, it's their mild flavor that makes them perfect for salads, pizzas, and any dish where you don't want the strong olive taste to overwhelm other ingredients.
Cooking or baking?
Cooking. If you're planning to bake olive bread, use green or Kalamata olives.
Cans will keep in the pantry almost indefinitely. Store leftover olives in a jar or plastic container, covered with water or with the brine from the can.
Take advantage of garden-fresh tomatoes, if you're lucky enough to have them, or look for containers of heirloom varieties of cherry tomatoes available at many supermarkets. With cooler nights here in Rhode Island, it's the basil that needs to come out of my garden now. In this salad, the warmth of the tomatoes brings out the flavor and aroma of the basil, and softens the cheese, too. A wonderful side dish with grilled chicken or fish, this salad serves 2, and easily can be doubled.
4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 pint cherry tomatoes, a mix of varieties if possible
12 black olives, halved
3-4 large basil leaves, roughly torn
1/4 cup diced fresh mozzarella, at room temperature
1-1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
In a medium-size nonstick frying pan, heat the oil over low heat. Add the tomatoes and cook, shaking the pan occasionally to toss the tomatoes, for 10 minutes or until the tomatoes have softened and begun to crack.
Pour the tomatoes and the oil into a mixing bowl, and add the remaining ingredients. Toss gently, and serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.
More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Goat cheese and olive stuffed peppers
Favorite green salad with tomato, cucumber, nectarines and olives
Spaghetti with basil pesto, tomato and olives
Broccoli, basil and pasta salad
Goat cheese-olive empanadas
Other recipes that use black olives:
Cornbread with black olives and jalapeño peppers, from Lisa's Kitchen
Roasted tomato hand pies with black olives and feta, from Ezra Pound Cake
Olive cheese bread, from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
Cheddar, black olive, curry bites, from Whipped
Mediterranean olive hummus, from Pinch My Salt