How do I choose the best olive marinade?

Black olives.

Olives have a distinct flavor and are almost always salty when purchased. This gives them a very strong, salty taste. A good olive marinade can work with this flavor and help bring it out. Marinated olives can be used as an Italian antipasto, snack, appetizer or table sauce. There are a variety of different marinades, each adding a distinct flavor to the olives.

An olive branch with black olives.

One important thing to understand when trying to find the best olive marinade is that it will take some time for the marinade to penetrate the olives. A very strong marinade may only need to be kept in the fridge for an hour, while a more subtle marinade may take up to eight hours. Allowing enough time for the marinade to meld with the olives will bring out the true flavor of the dish.

Olive oil, when combined with vinegar, garlic, and spices, makes a light marinade.

A basic olive marinade for a dish that isn’t too spicy might involve olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic and basil. This mixture accentuates the slightly fruity flavor of the olives, while extracting some of their salt into the oil. For some heat, red pepper flakes can also be added.

Another type of olive marinade that accentuates the fruity flavor of olives involves lemon and cilantro. In addition to pepper, oil and vinegar, lemon slices are added to the mixture. The chopped cilantro is sprinkled in the oil and the mixture is left to marinate the olives for up to six hours.

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A tastier olive marinade can be made with garlic, thyme, and allspice. Start with a base of olive oil before adding the three seasonings, along with parsley and pepper. Honey and orange zest help balance the flavors. It should be consumed as an aperitif.

A Spanish olive marinade that might be better for grilled meats consists of basil, garlic, lemon, and onion. Instead of adding oil and vinegar to this marinade, simply place all the ingredients in the original brine the olives came packaged in. The result is an olive with a strong and tasty flavor.

Black olives have a distinctly different flavor than green olives. An olive marinade for these types of olives should be slightly stronger than for the green variety. One example mixes chili flakes, rosemary, thyme, oregano, garlic and bay leaves in olive oil. A little red wine vinegar is added and the entire mixture is left for at least two days in the fridge before serving.

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