Tag Archives: Marinaded olives


My first serious Moroccan cookbook was A Taste of Morocco by Robert Carrier. It was published in 1987. I already had Claudia Roden’s Middle Eastern Food and Arto der Haroutunian’s North African Cookery.

I lived in Adelaide then and with three friends once a month we celebrated different ethnic cuisines by cooking in our own homes and then sharing it at each other’s places. Each of us prepared food for 1 course – all of us were excellent cooks, had busy lives and loved to socialize. We spent less time, less planning, less money (we all liked to drink good wine) and we deepened our friendship and repertoire of cooking styles, ingredients and recipes of particular cuisines. The special privilege of the host was that they could invite 2-3 extra people of their choice.


We had this system in place well before 1987 but for the first Moroccan meal I was responsible for the appetisers and entrées (as we called those courses then!!). And part of the nibbles I bought were a variety of dressed olives.
I have said before that I never follow a recipe from A-Z and nor did I do that on this occasion, but I played around with the ingredients suggested in Robert Carrier’s recipes and I still play around with these ingredients still when I marinate olives.

In my fridge at present: 3 types of olives and preserved lemons

In this post I will provide a list of the ingredients I may use when making Moroccan olive salads. I use:

Different types/ colours/ sized of olives in brine, i.e. I may use my own olives that I have pickled in brine or bought small olives, large ones, green ones, black ones, cracked olives etc.

As the mood takes me I will use some of the following ingredients to dress and marinate the olives: harissa (North African spice paste) thyme sprigs, lemon slices, preserved lemons, fresh coriander, fresh flat leaved parsley, fresh red or green hot peppers, dried oregano, fennel seeds, cumin, fresh lemon, bitter oranges (Saville), chilli flakes.

Always, always extra virgin olive oil and I keep the jars of marinaded olives in the fridge and allow them to marinate at least 24 hours before we eat them. You are likely to find marinated olives in the fridge anytime you visit me – they store well and keep for ages.

For more olive recipes in this blog see:

ULIVI CUNZATE, INSALATA DI OLIVE – Sicilian Green olives/ Olive salad

CHEAT FOOD: Marinaded white anchovies AND Olive Schiacciate made with commercially prepared olives


And one of my most popular posts by far: HOW TO PICKLE OLIVES


CHEAT FOOD FOR LAUNCH OF SICILIAN SEAFOOD COOKING AT COASIT AND READINGS: Marinaded white anchovies AND Olive Schacciate made with commercially prepared olives


I am getting so many requests for recipes about the marinaded anchovies and the squashed olives (olive schiacciate, sounds much better), two of the spuntini (little mouthfuls/ tastes) that were available for the Melbourne launch of Sicilian Seafood Cooking at COASIT. 

These olives and anchovies were presented at COASIT and at the event at Readings in Hawthorn- great compliments and many requests for the recipe- a cheat recipe but very successful.

EVENT | Thursday 17 November 2011 at 6:30pm

Marisa Raniolo Wilkins
Food, wine, book signing at Readings Hawthorn: 701 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn, Victoria, 3122

The olives and anchovies are both called my Cheat Recipes and you will see why.

I also made caponata, the Catanese version, which includes peppers. These little offerings, together with the generous food offerings by Fiona Rigg  from Fiona Louise, Marianna di Bartolo from Dolcetti and Alfredo and Lisa La Spina from Bar Idda were very much appreciated by those who attended the launch.


Ingredients and Processes:

I used boquerones (white anchovies) from Spain (1 kilo pack)

Drain them (they are packed in oil and vinegar), add 4 cloves of finely chopped garlic, 1 cup of finely cut parsley and 3 spring onions and cover them with extra virgin olive oil.

Leave in marinade at least one day.

This recipe is nothing new. When we first come to Australia and could not buy fresh sardines (they were used a bait, like squid used to be) my father would buy Spanish sardines packed in salt, wash them carefully, drain them and dress them in the same manner. And he was Sicilian. Sometimes he added oregano or chopped fennel fronds, sometimes capers. The anchovies were stored in the fridge ready to be placed on a fresh piece of bread whenever anyone was hungry and they were also very useful if guests dropped in unexpected.

Accompanied with a cold glass of white wine or a glass of dry vermouth (or dry marsala if we had been able to buy some in the 60’s in small town Adelaide) these marinaded anchovies were very much appreciated. And we never made a brutta figura.

By tomorrow they will be superb. In two days time, they will taste even better.

Not everything need take a long time to prepare. And some of your guests may even like them more than eating fresh sardines treated the same way – some people squirm at the mention of fresh sardines.


I asked my daughter Francesca to prepare the olives for me. The following is her writing:

With two book launches to promote, one book signing, menu preparation for two cooking demonstrations, sourcing wine, book promotion, writing her blog and launch speeches plus a family wedding interstate thrown in, Mum was in need of an extra pair of hands, those I could supply.

I was a little daunted, to begin with, when I learnt my ‘job’ was to prepare 7kg of olives. Not because 7kgs of olives sounded so much and they all had to be crushed in small amounts but I hadn’t made them before and what if they are awful? How embarrassed I would feel and would they come even close to the olives my mother dressed? But there is no cooking involved and I had my instructions – it would be hard to “stuff it up” so I did it.

(for 1 kg of olives, double up for 2kg and so on)
Sicilian Green olives in brine (These were Nocellara brand)
garlic   4/5 large cloves
orange rind from 1 orange
chilli flakes 2 tbls
fennel seeds, 2 tbls
bay leaves, 3-4
wild Fennel fronds/ leaves/green stuff  (failing this, use extra fennel seeds,1 tbs)
extra Virgin olive oil, about a litre- you need enough to cover the olives



Drain the brine from the olives, no need to rinse them. I used a mortar and pestle to crush the olives, a handful at a time and they don’t require much force.
Roughly chop the garlic and wild fennel fronds.  Place the crushed olives into a jar or sealable plastic container and add the chilli, wild Fennel, bay leaves, orange peel and garlic and cover them completely with olive oil.

The olives need to be keep completely under oil at all times and should be stored in the fridge.  I placed a plate over the olives to keep them under the oil level. The oil will solidify so the olives need to be removed from the fridge a couple of hours before eating and the oil drained off. Remember to keep and re-use the flavoured oil – great for salads and cooking.

Carlo Carli at launch of Sicilian Seafood Cooking
 Marisa greets woman


ULIVI CUNZATE, INSALATA DI OLIVE – Sicilian Green olives/ Olive salad


I do not usually buy dressed olives – some combinations can be very salty, others taste what I refer to as “synthetic” i.e. the quality and taste of the oil could be better, the blend of spices and herbs fresher or the combination of flavours are not to my taste. I would much rather buy some good quality, plain kalamata olives and dress my own, using good quality extra virgin olive oil and spices I like.

My cousin Lidia lives in Augusta (east coast of Sicily) and she makes very good olive salads using black or green olives.I like to use her method of dressing olives using green, Sicilian olives.

What we are calling ‘Sicilan green olives’ in Australia are those very distinctive vivid, bright green coloured olives (almost unnatural in colour – this is due to the pickling process). They have a softer, creamier texture than conventional olives and are milder tasting – no bitterness or saltiness. These olives seem to have become a bit of a fad recently In Melbourne.

In Sicily, these green pickled olives are said to come from Castelvetrano in the province of Trapani.


Lidia adds giardiniera (pickled Italian vegetables in vinegar) to the olives. Ratio: 1 part giardiniera to 3 part olives.

Add finely chopped parsley, spring onion, red chilli and garlic to taste.

She also uses the inner heart of the celery – those tender light green stalks and their leaves chopped finely.

Nothing savoury is ever eaten without good quality olive oil. Dress the salad generously.

But, it is the finely cut, fresh mint that is the refreshing addition – add this last of all and present to the table.

When I make the olive salad I present it as an antipasto. It does not keep well – the mint turns dark, the salad component goes soft. (And this is why for the most part the ready bought, dressed olives taste ‘synthetic’ – picked fresh ingredients perish too quickly and are not generally used for the take-away market).

For other recipes on how to pickle and dress olives, see earlier posts labelled ‘Olives’.




Olive trees have become very common in many Australian gardens. In South Australia where I used to live, olive trees grow wild and prolifically, and I miss not being able to collect and marvel at the range of shapes, sizes and tastes of olives I had for free. I used to enjoy looking at my collection of different jars of olives, collected from different trees and in different locations. I remember once finding a tiny, round olive in Botanic Park and after some research found that it was a descendant of one particular French variety introduced in very early times of Adelaide’s history.

A friend contacted me recently and suggested that I publish something on my blog about how to pickle olives. She is ready to pick hers and had looked through her collection of recipe books and was able to find many suggestions for how to marinade olives, but not how to pickle them.

There are many ways to preserve olives in all their stages of maturity – green, black and those that are turning colour from green to violet. Because I only have one small tree growing in a pot on my balcony, it is those in-between colour olives that I collect to preserve.

Water and salt seem to be a common ways to leach out the bitterness.

I place them into a crock pot after the leaching process and cover them in brine. As you can see I place a weight on top to keep them submerged and then cover them with a sturdy lid and leave them there until they are pickled.


Green olives can be soaked whole in salt water or be cut with a sharp knife across on one side or cracked with a brick (called olive schiacciate).

Very ripe black olives can be dried outdoors in the shade and then packed in jars in salt. My father placed black olives on rock salt in shallow trays with a layer of open weave made of plastic (available from the hardware and used to prevent leaves from getting into gutters) suspended close to the bottom of the trays. The juice of the olives dribbles down to the bottom of the tray (to collect the juice, he used to place newspaper there, discard and replace it regularly) and eventually the olives dry out and they can be packed in oil, fennel seeds and oregano.

Some people use ash, others place green olives in water with caustic soda – the soda preserves the firmness, but it is not environmentally friendly and not a process I favour. This method is a common procedure used in commercial pickling and can change the colour of the olive from green to black.

I have one small tree on my balcony and the easiest thing I can do is collect my small crop when my olives are turning colour from green to pink and preserve them in brine till I am ready to use them.


Submerge the olives into fresh water in a large bowl or bucket. Change the water every day for a fortnight. I place a clean plate or mesh on top to keep the olives under the surface.

The olives are now ready to be placed in jars into a strong solution of brine.

Estimate how much brine you require (salt is cheap and maybe you will waste some brine or you can measure the last lot of water you pour off the olives).

Dissolve salt in boiling water, I use about one cup of coarse rock salt to 8 cups of water. (My father used to boil the water and keep on adding salt till an egg floated on top). Allow the water to cool.

Place olives in clean jars (with good lids). I scatter some fennel seeds in between the layers and then pour the brine over them until the olives are completely submerged. Once again that gutter wire comes in handy and I cut some to size to place on top of the olives to keep them submerged. Alternatively coiled branches of dry wild fennel stalks are also effective for this purpose.

Topping up the bottles with up to one centimeter of olive oil to seal and stop air getting to the olives is not thought to be essential, I do it. Screw on the lids and store for at least 6 months in a cool place.

When you are ready eat your olives take out as many as you want, drain them and taste them. If they are too salty, soak them in fresh water, till they are ready to dress.

Unlike the Greeks, I do not use vinegar to pickle or to dress olives. Unless I am pretending to be Moroccan rather than Italian, my olives are mostly dressed very simply with extra virgin olive oil, dry oregano, bay leaves, fennel seeds and chili flakes.

******This post  was published in Mar 23, 2009 and it us still one of my most popular posts.



Having said that ‘Unlike the Greeks, I do not use vinegar to pickle or to dress olives’, check out what I have said in a post written in Jan 11, 2015


Various Ways to Pickle Olives