Olives are a cornerstone of Mediterranean cuisine, but if there’s one country that knows how to use them to their full potential, it’s Italy. Pressed for their oil, eaten on their own or incorporated into all sorts of olive recipes, it seems everything but the stone can be used in one way or another.
Olives themselves – whether black or green – are full of salty, sharp flavours, transforming humdrum dishes into something special. Apart from scattering them over pizza they work very well in pasta sauces, such as Spaghetti alla puttanesca. For something a bit more adventurous, try the Costardi Brothers’ Red mullet with capers, black olive and tomato, or Eugenio Boer’s ‘Ligurian cod’ – salt cod with tomato, olive cream and potato. If you fancy something a little easier to cook but just as delicious, Manuela Zangara’s Aubergine caponata or Antonella la Macchia’s Scacciata catanese – a type of Sicilian cheese pie.
When buying olives, you tend to get what you pay for – the cheaper jars of black olives in brine tend to be just dyed unripe green olives, which taste nothing like the real deal.