Do you remember when the only olives in the grocery store were canned black and jars of green, pimento-stuffed? Now, we have a cornucopia of olives to choose from on the shelf, at the deli counter and some stores now have a specialty olive bar. The selection is magnificent for olive lovers. My favorites – green olives in garlic oil and great, big, fat ones stuffed with blue cheese. But not from a jar, only from the olive bar.
The first blue cheese-stuffed olive I ever tasted was at the Del Coronado Hotel in California after a lovely walk on the beach. My mom and I ordered our very specific martinis – Bombay Sapphire Gin with olives, wet (more vermouth) and just a little dirty (olive juice). This was quite a few years ago – before martinis of all sorts were in vogue – so I think the bartender was quite impressed by two, petite ladies ordering big, bold drinks. He asked us if we’d like to try blue-cheese stuffed olives in our martinis. Of course we licked our parched lips and offered a resounding, Yes!
This attentive fellow then proceeded to remove the pimentos from the giant green olives normally served and stuff them by hand with fresh blue cheese ordered from the kitchen. Wow, what service! That’s the Del Coronado.
A chilled martini, wet and “a little” dirty, with blue cheese-stuffed olives, a balmy ocean breeze and the company of one of my favorite people on this planet … an amazing and memorable moment in life I will always treasure. Forgive my reverie, but worth sharing, I think.
Lest I forget – in the midst of the wonderful selection of olives now available, I want to give three cheers to the good ol’ pimento-stuffed green olive – those small ones, crowded into glass jars of various sizes and brands.
Yes, you can still use them in martinis or put them on a relish tray for Thanksgiving dinner but I want to make you aware of their great versatility. This came to me this week as I was making a salmon salad. Along with chopped green onions and celery and a bit of mayonnaise, I often add a few capers (my sister Elaine’s idea) to kick up the flavor. But, darn it, I used the last of my capers in a pasta sauce, so what to do? I see a jar of green olives in my fridge and decide to chop up a few and add those in lieu of the capers. Green olive-infused salmon salad, paired with sticks of red pepper and crispy gluten-free, white cheddar crackers made for a very yummy lunch. What a happy substitution!
I should have known it would be. I always have a jar of little green olives in my fridge because I use them in tons of dishes to add that nice briny, salty flavor. Here are some of my favorites:
Sliced in a salad
Topping on a pizza (especially good combined with mushrooms, onions and bacon)
Sliced and tossed into tomato sauce (along with mushrooms, etc.) for pasta
In tuna salad, of course
Chopped into egg salad
Served with sardines, sliced red onion & toast
Sliced and sprinkled on open-faced grilled cheese sandwiches
Sliced and added to potato salad
My dear friend Barb often talks about the time I added green olives to my potato salad. That was almost 40 years ago, yet she remembers it – I suppose because it was a surprising element but also maybe because it tasted great!
Good ol’ green olives. Don’t pass them by in the grocery isle. They deserve our loyalty.
Share your favorite use of this old favorite with me!
Eat well. Be happy.