For Italians, olives are a crucial component of the antipasto (appetizer) dish. Olive cunzate, in the Sicilian lingo, is a generic term for seasoned or marinated olives. Green olives are usually processed in a brining solution and black olives are usually salted and oven-dried, similar to Moroccan olives. This recipe is made using only brined green olives.
A popular variety of green olives is the bright, sweet Castelvetrano olive (Nocellara de Belice), grown in the same town my mother is from. I like using them because of their vibrant color. This simple dish is great for entertaining. I like to eat them with a sandwich or with a loaf of crusty Italian bread. These delicious olives are marinated with carrots, celery, and bell peppers. It takes just a few minutes to assemble and makes a dramatic presentation.
It is best to use brined olives purchased from a delicatessen or from an olive bar. Olives from a jar or can are ok to use but bland in flavor.
Sicilian Marinated Olives
(Alivi Cunzati/ Olive Condite)
1 pint (12-14 ounces) plain, un-pitted green olives (such as Castelvetranno, Sevilliano, or large Manzanilla)
2/3 cup 1/2-inch diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup 1/2-inch diced green bell pepper
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, sliced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced Italian flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1-2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
Ground black pepper
Drain the olives well. Place all ingredients in a jar or large covered container. Stir until combined. Season with a pinch or two of salt and pepper. Cover tightly with lid. Gently tip the jar upside down and right-side up a few times to distribute the marinade. Let the olive mixture marinate for 1 hour before using. Refrigerate up to 5 days.