What Can I Make with Black Olives?

Cindy Quarters

Black olives are typically canned and then sold whole, sliced, or chopped, making them easy to use in a variety of recipes. They have a unique, nutty flavor that makes them a good choice for a snack or for adding to many different recipes where they tend to stand out from the other foods. There are several different kind of black olives; each one is a bit different from the others in terms of taste, but all can be used in similar ways.

Olive tree.
Olive tree.

In the United States, one of the most common types are mission olives, which are grown throughout much of Southern California and are the result of olive growing endeavors in the missions of California in the 1800s. These olives are a deep, rich purple for much of their lives, but when they are ripe they make a dramatic change to solid black. Other types of black olives are the cerignola, which also comes in light or dark green or red, and the amphissa, which is just a little tart.

Black olives made into tapenade and served with a slice of bread.
Black olives made into tapenade and served with a slice of bread.

Fans of black olives often choose to snack on them whole, eating them straight out of the can, frequently accompanied by beer or wine. You can also stuff them with such things as cream cheese or chopped shrimp to make a variety of olive appetizers. They can be added to a wide variety of foods and are especially good when combined with strong-flavored meats, vegetables, or seasonings. It is common to chop or slice black olives and add them to pizzas, either alone or in combination with toppings such as mushrooms, sausage, pepperoni, and anchovies. They retain their distinctive flavor and texture and are easy to identify by taste, even when covered with other toppings and sauce.

Black olives and anchovies make a delicious pizza!
Black olives and anchovies make a delicious pizza!

Black olives are an important ingredient in many different spreads and sauces. Chopped or ground olives mixed with garlic, cheeses such as Brie or Parmesan, or other similar foods make good spreads to use on rolls and toast. Olives and garlic are also the main ingredients for pasta sauces, to which you can add butter, mushrooms, and various herbs according to your preferences. To add flavor to casseroles and stews, chop black olives and add them to the other ingredients before cooking. You can also sprinkle slices over salads or mix them into bread dough to create an olive loaf.

Different types of olives, including black olives.
Different types of olives, including black olives.
Kalamata olives.
Kalamata olives.
An olive branch with black olives.
An olive branch with black olives.

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Discussion Comments

Talentryto

Pitted black olives on pizza is still my favorite use for them. I just love the way the flavor of black olives compliments the pizza sauce and the other toppings like mushrooms, onions, and peppers.

Heavanet

I like to use Italian black olives as finger food on a tray with green olives and a variety of pickles. This combination makes a great appetizer or snack to have with drinks when entertaining a crowd before a meal.

Rundocuri

I like to chop up fresh black olives into a relish-like consistency and use it on sandwiches. I love the flavor, so I don't add anything to it. The concoction tastes great and adds a nice touch to almost any sandwich.

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