Sicilian Marinated Olives


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.

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