August 14, 2012

Marinated Olives and Celery

It’s a shame that so many people dislike olives.  I love all kinds.  I love the mild, pitted black olives that I would fit on each of my fingers when I was little, plucking each salty one off with my teeth.  I love the plump, firm green ones that I would devour at my aunt’s house at every holiday dinner.  I love the oily, pebble-sized assorted colored ones served in delicate white ceramic dishes at wine bars.  I also love the intense saltiness of Kalamata olives tossed with hot pasta and broccoli rabe.  Olives are salty, bitter, juicy and addictive. 

Marinated Olives and Celery

My mom and uncle make marinated olives from scratch, a lengthy process which involves brining uncured olives in a big ceramic jar under a tin foil covered brick for many days and then marinating them.  Naturally I came up with the “lazy man’s” version.  Mine, while not nearly as fabulous as theirs, are a sufficiently flavor-packed alternative.

Smash this stuff into some crusty bread or chop it all up and use it as a tapenade for bread, roasted chicken or fish.  Unmarinated olives might be a bit of a challenge to find but check your local specialty cheese shop, upscale deli or market.  I used Graber olives which are plain, salt-brined green olives.

Makes about 2 cups

1 cup unmarinated green olives, pits removed (see How to Pit an Olive)
1/2 cup thinly sliced (at an angle) celery
1/2 cup olive oil
1 small clove garlic, halved
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
A few turns of Freshly cracked black pepper

Add all ingredients to a bowl, mix, cover and refrigerate.  Allow the olives to marinate overnight or at least for a few hours.  Thaw them to room temperature before serving (because the olive oil will have chilled to a solid state and needs to thaw).  You can keep any remaining olives in an airtight container or jar in the refrigerator for a week or two.


  1. I love that you have a family tradition that involves olives. I suppose I do, too...but that mostly entails helping my dad stuff them with blue cheese for martinis (haha). I adore olives and if they're on the table at a restaurant or a friend's house, forget it - they'll be gone in a matter of minutes.

  2. That's a lovely olive memory! Makes me want a martini right about now:)