Tag Archives: Sicilian Green Olives


Christine Gordon intros Marisa @ Readings
EVENT | Thursday 17 November 2011 at 6:30pm

Marisa Raniolo Wilkins

Food, wine, book signing
Readings Hawthorn: 701 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn, Victoria, 3122
The event was organised by Christine Gordon.

After this event I went home and made a wild fennel frittata and had it with a bottle of Rocky Passes Estate syrah – a very fine wine and the only bottle left over from the book signing event held in Readings in Hawthorn (Sicilian Seafood Cooking).


Friends Vitto Oles & Candi Westney own and run Rocky Passes Estate and they graciously donated the wine for the Readings event.

Rocky Passes bottle 2

Vitto is the viticulturist and wine-maker of exceptionally good Syrah and Candi is just as important because she is responsible for the entertainment – the music concerts, performances and art exhibitions. Both manage the cellar door and the range of appetising Argentinian/Spanish inspired morsels (tapas) that are available when you visit their winery.

Rocky Passes Estate is at the spectacular southern end of the Strathbogie Ranges, near Seymour in Victoria. If you look at their wine label you will notice two eagles – these birds are often soaring above their very attractive property.

The winery is relatively new and had its first vintage of Syrah in 2004 and every vintage since has been highly rated by James Halliday. The winery is open Sundays 11-5pm or by appointment and Tapas also served onthe last Friday of the month as well as during art openings and special events.

I love wild fennel and when I find it I use it.

Fennel fronds

I have written about frittata in a previous post and as you see it is not difficult to make. The fennel can be replaced by any wilted green vegetable, for example spinach, endives, spring onions or asparagus.

Wild greens are superb or you can use bulb fennel, but keep the greens.You can vary the amounts of vegetables but as a general guide I would use 3-4 eggs to a cup of greens. For this frittata I used 12 eggs and it fed 4 of us (we were greedy).
Remember to use a spatula to lift the cooked part of the frittata as it cooks and release the uncooked egg. Need I say that I only use free range eggs?

Frittata cooking

Then flip it over – I used a pizza tray. Finally, slide the frittata out. At the Readings book signing event I accompanied the Rocky passes with green Sicilian olives  (olive schiacciate), marinaded anchovies.


Marianna Di Bartolo from Dolcetti made more fish shaped biscuits for this occasion and once again these were perfectly matched with Brown Brothers’ Zibibbo.


And once again it was an other fine celebration for Sicilian Seafood Cooking.



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




These olives in the photograph were picked from the same tree on the same day. Olives do not have the good manners to ripen all at the same time on the one tree; they will range in colour from green to violet to black (different degree of ripeness) and be of varying sizes.

There are many different recipes for pickling olives butI only have one small tree and in general I pick my olives when they are half ripened – no longer green, but not yet black – a violet colour. I continue to collect them in 2-3 batches over a week and pickle them by first soaking in fresh water and then in brine, but keep each batch separate and put each batch in brine in different jars. It is also not a good idea to process olives of different varieties in the same container even if they are at the same degree of ripeness – different varieties may require differing length of time for pickling and different methods. For example I prefer to cure ripe, black olives in coarse salt and then preserve them in extra virgin olive oil. For both recipes see: How to pickle olives

Sometimes to facilitate the water and brine to penetrate the olives more easily, I use a mallet to bruise them or make 2-3 slits on each olive or prick them with a wine cork and some sewing needles (see this home made implement in the photo above). These are called Olive schiacciate. I would recommend doing this with large olives.


These bright green, commercially processed olives in the photo below are called Sicilian olives in Australia. They are picked green and generally pickled with caustic soda (lye), but a kinder to one’s body and more environmentally friendly process is to steep them in a mixture of wood ash and water (but do not expect the same bright green colour).

It is important to use ash from untreated wood – not wood that has been contaminated by paint or treated with chemicals and preferably from a fireplace or wood burning stove in your own home.

I found the following recipe, Olives Vertes a la Picholine, in Preserving, The Good Cook/Techniques and Recipes, Time Life Books. The recipe is taken from a French publication: Encyclopedie Hachette de la cuisine Regionale by Celine Vence.

Once the olives have soaked in the wood ash mixture they are steeped in clear water for another period of time and then stored in brine that has been flavoured with some aromatics: a bay leaf, coriander seeds, fennel sprigs and orange rind. Coriander is not a Sicilian spice and apart from just using salt, you may wish to add just bay leaves and/or replace the coriander with fennel seeds. It you have opportunity to use the stalks of wild fennel, half your luck.

I have never used orange rind in the brine and prefer to use it in the dressing. You may wish to use the olives to make an olive salad.

green olives, 2 k
wood ash, 2 k, mixed with hot water to make a thick runny paste, cool before using
water, 2 litres
salt, 200g
bay leaf,1
fennel, sprigs, 2
coriander seeds, 24
orange rind, peeled in strips, from ½ an orange
In a large bowl or crock mix the olives in the mixture of ash and water.
Leave them 10-12 days. Stir them a few times every day (the stone in the olives will begin to feel loose).
Rinse the olives thoroughly, cover them in clean water and allow them to stand for 10 days, changing the water each day.
Bring the brine ingredients to the boil, boil for 15 minutes, and cool. (If using fresh fennel sprigs or orange peel I would remove these in case they contaminate the olives).
Drain the olives, return them to the crock, and cover with the cold brine. Store for at least a week before using.

I prefer to store my olives in sterile jars; I keep the olives submerged with some plastic netting (from a plastic mesh roll or gutter guard mesh) and always cover my olives with about 5mm layer of olive oil on top – this seals the surface and prevents surface molds.

When I am ready to eat the olives, I drain them and dress them with some extra virgin, olive oil and any of the following aromatics: crushed garlic, some of the green, fresh feathery part of the fennel chopped finely, thin strips of orange or lemon peel, fennel seeds, fresh bay leaves, crushed dry chillies. Steep them in the aromatic mixture at least overnight and keep them in the fridge.