I absolutely adore olives and use them for all sorts of things, and one thing I tell people that takes them by surprise is that if you’re just using olives for garnish, you’re not taking full advantage of what they can do. Sure, olives make a great addition to sandwiches, salads, and even pasta, but there’s so much more that can be done with them.
Let me share with you a few ideas for how to cook with dried olives and use olives in different ways. Maybe you’ll want to expand your olive repertoire a little bit and try some dishes that push your olive usage just a little bit.
How to Cook Olives with Pasta
Olives can be very flavorful, but they can also be quite delicate. You have to be careful how you cook them with different dishes, particularly how long you cook them for.
You also want to take advantage of the delicate olive flavor and texture to make sure that they go well with the dish you’re making. So, use dishes that help accentuate and bring out the olive flavor, and use seasonings that allow the olives to shine.
If I’m making a pasta dish with olives, I will use spices and seasonings like red pepper flakes, parsley, and butter to help bring out the best of the olives. I cook the pasta first, and then add my seasonings at the end. The olives are part of that seasoning mix, sliced small and thin to be easily bite sized and eaten with bites of pasta.
I only add the olives at the end, because I want them to cook for just about a minute. This helps blend the flavors together, working the olive flavor into the rest of the food, but it ensures that the olives don’t burn or get cooked too much and lose their flavor and texture.
I’ve covered how to cook spaghetti with olives, and mushrooms can be added as well. Feel free to make this a more complex dish, adding pieces of boneless chicken breast as well or even ground beef, as both of those work really well with olives.
What to Cook with Green Olives with Pits
Some dishes are meant to be served with whole olives that still have the pits. While most people will buy sliced or pitted olives, there’s a novelty to serving whole olives and keeping the pits. Yes, there’s a little extra work involved in eating them, as you have to eat around the pits, but it adds some authenticity to certain dishes, since they’re served with the pits in some cultures.
I would recommend using the pressure cooker if you’re going to work with whole olives, as that will help them cook all the way through. Try this recipe and see what you think of using whole olives with it.
- 1 pound of boneless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-size pieces
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1/2 cup of flour
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 springs of rosemary
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 5 large springs of thyme
- 1 1/2 cups of cracked green olives (drained, with pits)
- 1 chopped onion
- 4 cups of chicken broth
- Black pepper, to taste
- Sea salt, to taste
- Add the oil to a pressure cooker and cook on medium high without covering.
- Prepare your chicken pieces by seasoning them with salt and pepper and coat lightly with flour. Get rid of excess flour and add your chicken to the heated oil.
- Cook the chicken for four minutes, and then flip them over and cook for an additional 4 minutes, to brown the chicken lightly on both sides.
- Set the chicken to the side and add the onions into the pressure cooker. Cook for about four minutes, stirring frequently, and cooking until the onion softens.
- Add in a tablespoon and a half of flour to create a roux and cook for an additional minute and a half. Add in a cup of broth to make a creamy sauce.
- Then, add the chicken to the pot, as well as rosemary, thyme, garlic, bay leaves, olives, and the rest of the broth.
- Seal with the lid and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Then, allow the pressure cooker to depressurize and remove the lid. You should have smooth sauce and tender chicken.
- Before serving, get rid of the thyme sprigs and bay leaves.
If you’re wondering what to cook with green olives, this is a pretty complex dish, but the pressure cooker keeps things from getting too complicated or making too big of a mess that is going to take a while to clean up afterwards.
You don’t have to go through the bother of slicing the olives or removing the pits for this method.
What to Cook with Chopped Olives
If you have chopped olives, you can do more with them than throw them into Mexican food or add them to a salad. You can make a garnish known as tapenade, which is often served on crackers or bread.
- 1 tablespoon of drained capers
- 1 cup of Kalamata olives, pitted
- 1 cup of Castelvetrano olives, pitted
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 1/4 cup of packed parsley
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- Combine every ingredient in a food processor and pulse quickly, about 10 times.
- Scrape down the ingredients that are stuck to the sides of the jar and then pulse an additional eight times or so until everything is chopped well. You don’t want to make a puree, but you want the proper texture for a garnish.
If you’re looking for what to cook with olives that’s really simple, this is about as simple as you can get, and it’s a surprisingly flavorful garnish and a great way to use leftover olives in a way that a lot of people don’t try.