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Marinating & Cooking with Spanish Olives

BY Boon Koh
Published 16 September 2012

I’m a big fan of olives! But when it comes to doing something with olives in the kitchen, I freeze like a deer caught in the headlights of a car. Although I love olives, my experience with them so far has consisted of someone else preparing them, and me doing the eating. However, this changed when I went for an evening devoted to Spanish olives – and how to marinate & cook them.

Olives From Spain is a campaign aimed to educate and raise awareness of this “fruit”. While most people in the UK eat olives quite frequently, normally it is usually as a bar snack, on a canape at a wedding, or just tossed into tomato pasta sauce. But there’s more to an olive that meets the eye – and I will be sharing some of the interesting marinades that you can do to olives at home as well as some interesting non-pasta dishes to use olives with!

Marinade 1 – Pomegranate, harissa paste, and sage

Ingredients: 1 jar/tin of green Spanish olives, 100ml of mild Spanish olive oil, 2 springs of fresh sage, and a quarter of a fresh pomegranate

Method: Drain the Spanish olives from the brine and plae them in a bow. Cut a quarter of the pomegranate and, over a bowl, squeeze it so all the seeds are released along with some juice. Mix the pomegranate juice and seeds with the harissa paste and sage leaves, before mixing in the olives. Leave to stand for 20 minutes then enjoy the freshly marinated olives, or keep in the fridge for up to a month in a tightly sealed container.

Result: The result is a very refreshing bowl of olives. While olives are fruits, once processed they loose that fresh taste. However, with some of the zingy pomegranate and the spice of the harissa paste, it brings the dull briny taste of normal olives to life.

Marinade 2 – ginger, cinnamon and cardamom

Ingredients: 1 jar or tin of ‘turning colour’ or black Spanish olives, 100ml of mild Spanish olive oil, 2 cardamom pods, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 kaffir lime leaves, and 2cm of ginger

Method: Drain the Spanish olives from the brine and place them in a bowl. Peel and thinly slice the ginger, crush the cardamom pods, cinnamon stick and the lime leaves, before mixing it all in with the Spanish olives and olive oil. Leave to stand for 20 minutes then enjoy the freshly marinated olives or keep in the fridge for up to a month in a tightly sealed container.

Result: Perfect for a cold winter’s day – this marinade provides some warmth and excitement to black olives. You will be surprised by this marinade – and so will your guests. Easy to make too, and all the ingredients are long life larder type, so this is perfect for days when your fridge is empty.

Cooking with Olives – the traditional Spanish omelette

There’s nothing more Spanish than a Spanish omelette, or to use its more correct term, Spanish tortilla (not to be confused with the Mexican tortilla – which is a corn based shell!). So why not include some finely chopped olives in with it? The recipe for making a Spanish omelette is simple – and it really does provide a filling and nutritiousness meal. First, slick some onions finely, as well as some potatoes. In a pan, heat up enough olive oil so that about 1/3 of the pan is covered with oil. Make sure the oil isn’t too hot. Put the potatoes and the onions in, and let them simmer for 15-20 minutes. Check the potatoes – don’t let them get too soft, but also don’t let the onions become too crisp and black.

Next, crack the eggs into a bowl. Omar Allibhoy, our chef for the demonstration and owner of the Tapas Revolution restaurant at Westfield, told us that while some chefs liked to beat the eggs, he preferred to leave them unbeaten.

Draining the onion and potatoes from the olive oil in the pan, add them to the bowl with the raw eggs. Add some chopped olives to the bowl as well, and mix it gently. Once evenly mixed, heat a new pan with a bit of olive oil, and then pour the mixture into the pan. The heat should be on a low or medium setting – unlike french omelettes, the key here is to let the Spanish omelette to cook slowly (as it is rather thick).

Once the pan side of the omelette starts to brown, its time to flip the omelette! For this, place a big plate over the top of the pan. Holding tightly, remove the pan from the heat, flip the pan so that the omelette is resting on the plate. Place the pan back on the stove, and then slide the omelette from the plate back into the pan. You can repeat this again if necessary, but once the omelette starts to become firm in the middle (prod it with your finger or utensil), take it off the heat to let it cool down a bit before slicing.


While I’ll still enjoy just having plain olives in the brine marinade out of a tin or jar, I will be experimenting with  some home made olive marinades and recipes! They’re really easy to do, and if you’re a big olive fan like me, they’ll add something extra to your home meals.