Even if you don’t necessarily like olives, you have to respect them. They provide a great and unique flavor to a variety of dishes. Also… olive oil. Who can complain about olive oil? Olive oil mixed with balsamic vinegar with fresh bread is God’s gift to this Earth.
If you’re like me, all olives are absolutely fantastic. What I’m saying is: I like ALL OF the OLIVES. I would also say that they’re a top five food for throwing up in the air and catching with your mouth.
Olives have many different purposes: some pair well with cheese and some go well with martinis but whatever it is, you can tell that there’s an olive involved. Everything at the olive bar at my local grocery store looks so good that my decision is nearly impossible without a guide. Luckily, here is a guide of the many different types of olives for you to enjoy and identify when you’re at the olive bar.
Niçoise olives are a pretty common type of olive that are found in France. They’re a darker color that have almost a hint of licorice taste to them. You might have heard of a salad Niçoise, which is a salad that originally featured these olives, as well as hard boiled eggs and many other vegetables. You can also add tuna to that mix for a tuna Niçoise salad and they’re a main contributor in most olive tapenades.
Kalamata olives are one of the most popular types of olives around. Hailing from Greece, they’re a dark purplish color and can have a sweet, but still bitter flavor. They’re often brined in a red wine vinegar and a lot of times you find them stuffed with feta cheese. Kalamata olives are a main ingredient in a traditional greek salad and they really dominate the flavor in a good way.
Picholine olives are the embodiment of the olive green color. These are also from France and they taste a little tart and have a little nutty flavor. They are used for both table olives and olive oil. This olive is key for some of the best charcuterie boards because of how well they mix with cheese and wine. Here is a nice shrimp pasta recipe that utilizes these multifaceted olives.
Cerignola olives are the largest olives in the world. They are the ones that you normally see at the grocery store that are stuffed with peppers, meat, cheese, and much more. They’re from Italy and can either be black, green, or sometimes even bright red. They also have a mild apple and lemon flavor to them, which makes them a little sweeter compared to other olives in the olive bar. This recipe for fried stuffed olives looks fantastic.
Originally coming from Spain, Manzanilla olives are another typical type of olive that you can find in a grocery store. In fact, they’re commonly referred to as the common “green olive”. These olives are also normally pitted and stuffed with something like pimiento peppers. They have an almond-like and smokey flavor and are also great as little snacks. You can also include them in dishes like this olive dip recipe.
Nyon olives are a little bit more of a delicacy and are meant more for the olive savant. Coming from France, they’re dark black, and look a little wrinkly because they’re normally dry cured. These have a somewhat bitter taste but they contain a lot of aromatic flavor and they go best with herbs like rosemary and thyme, sprinkled on top.
These are also known as Beldi olives and are also dark-colored and very wrinkly. Moroccan Dry Olives are also dry cured, typically in salt and they have a salty, smoky flavor that is good on its own or in a variety of dishes. Things like salads, pastas, or cheese plates are great avenues for Beldi olives to improve.
Mission olives are the first and only olive on this list from the ole U.S. of A. Said to be originated from Spain and brought over to the states by Franciscan monks, these green or black olives are smaller and primarily used to make olive oil.