I first made Olive Fritte (fried olives) after I bought The Taste of Italy in 1984. Bugialli became a big hit in Australia and I still have several of his books.
These are ripe, fresh olives (not pickled) that are sautéed in extra virgin olive oil, course- grained salt and freshly ground black pepper. (Bugialli’s recipe: 1 pound of black olives, 2tbs olive oil, ½ tbsp of the salt and a pinch of pepper and sautéed gently for 15 minutes).
South Australia is blessed with wild oIive trees. I was living in Adelaide at that time and you could handpick the olives you wanted according to the degree of maturity, the range of shapes and sizes – and all for free.
Even then I had adventurous friends who were willing to try anything I cooked and those who sampled these were wary at first, but quickly adjusted and enjoyed the fresh slightly bitter taste of the olives. They continued eating them and took more. At the time, I also added fresh bay leaves.
Recently two of my friends brought me a small bag of olives as a gift. They had visited two other friends at Rocky Passes, a boutique winery at the southern end of the Strathbogie Ranges in the Upper Goulburn wine growing region of Victoria. These two friends produce award winning red wines and In their kitchen garden there are some olive trees. This is where these olives (in the photo) came from.
This time when I sautéed them fresh, I added fennel seeds and deglazed the pan with some good quality red wine vinegar. I presented them on two separate occasions to different guests and once again watched them tentatively put the first olive in their mouths, the incredulous expressions on their faces (should I be eating these??) and then the enjoyment of savouring something bitter but at the same time with a hint of sweetness (Campari?). I ensured them that bitter food is good for the liver so we drank some more wine.
Use low heat and sauté 2 cups of unblemished, black, ripe olives in ½ cup cup of extra virgin olive oil. Add ½ teaspoon of salt flakes and ½ tsp of fennel seeds. Cook for about 15 minutes stir frequently. Add 1 tbsp of red wine vinegar and deglaze the pan.
Sprinkle with some fresh fennel fronds (optional)
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