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What to do with Canned Black Olives?

I recently made and served a tapenade (from Kalamatas) to some folks, one of whom had never experienced tapenade.

As a thank you, she has just gifted me with 12 (twelve) cans of whole black olives, thinking that they were the ingredient that she had enjoyed (..."So you'll always have some on hand"...) This was such a sweet gesture that I did not explain about Kalamatas versus canned.

So now the gauntlet has been dropped in the form of twelve cans of Jumbos and Smalls. I'd like to hear about some ways to use them that highlight their relative blandness and buttery texture, and also ways that perk them up. Would I have preferred a gift of brined and oil cured from the olive bar at the Italian market?.... Sure. But this is a gift of Karma, and I am up for the challenge. But I need help. The expiration date is in less than a year, so we gotta move fast.

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  1. Muffaletta? Topping for pizza? Nachos? Mixed with cream cheese?

    I like canned black olives, but this was a good idea ... marinating them with minced garil, olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and a splash of scotch.

    Using that idea, you could probably think of lots of great maridanes.

    I also read that roasting canned olives will change their taste and texture ... I mean what do you have to lose ... you got the olives, so give it a try

    Roast a can of black olives drizzeld with olive oil in a 425 degree oven for about 40 minutes. Sprinkle with herbs and mix with garlic cloves before putting in the oven.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rworange

      Growing up, my dad always kept a jar in the back of the fridge that was filled with a drained can of these, roughly chopped garlic, salt (perhaps a dash of msg) and lemon juice. It was his snack when he go home from work and the go to tapa when someone stopped by.

    2. Labor intense I know but, how about stuffing some with a squirt of smoked salmon and creme fraiche/or Philly's smoked salmon cream cheese. Then mix in a few your favs and throw atop a dish of arugula, call it an olive salad. (Assuming they're pitted).

      Also, you can chop some and add to a pasta sauce, red or white (alfredo). :)KQ

      1. My late mother in law, a woman of varied and refined tastes, loved chopped canned black olives mixed with cream cheese and served on baguette slices or crackers. Myself, I would add a crushed clove of garlic to that, or perhaps a big pinch of cayenne.

        1 Reply
        1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

          I make chopped black olives, toasted pecans and cream cheese for a sandwich filling. More nuts and olives than cream cheese.

        2. Just an honest answer--I think they ruin anything they are put into. I can pick them out of enchiladas, but chopped into cream cheese would really waste it. I think they taste a bit of the can. I'd save them for 'relish trays' when children or old people are over. I think kids like them because the blandness suits the sensitive palate.

          1. They don't have the tang and texture of kalamata, but they can be good. Sometimes when I make burrito filling (ground beef/chicken/turkey with jalapeno/serrano/habenero and onion), I add some sliced black olives to the meat while cooking, plus my favorite spices, and whatever veggies I may want (such as corn, bell peppers, etc.). When it's all rolled in a tortilla with guac, cheese, salsa, sourcream, or whatever, the olives add a texture that works very well.

            1. Try them in a red pasta sauce; you can either use them to doctor a commercial sauce or toss them in when you do a quickie sauce from crushed tomatoes. Otherwise -- do you make pizza a lot?

              1. Not terribly creative, but I had some on hand and threw them in with a sort of cold antipasto salad. Even though I do not typically love black olives, my SO enjoyed the addition and so did I. That evening the salad consisted of romaine, black olives, prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers, a lil' genoa salami, turkey pepperoni, parmesan, hot mix, and a drizzle of vinegarette. Salty bliss. I have also been served black olives as an addition to a Mexican bean dip. Again, nothing fancy, but good eats.

                1. If you don't care for them in mexican dishes or on pizza, the best thing to do is donate them to a local soup kitchen or food bank. We also love them in my hubby's homemade spaghetti sauce.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: foodchick45

                    That's a bit mean. I volunteer at a food bank and products like this are of no value and an insult to people that are needy of food. What is a person to do with canned olives if they cannot afford the rest of the ingredients to make something edible?

                    1. re: missymoto

                      I don't find food chick's comment mean at all! If someone receives them in a food donation, they can add them to many recipes, and get a good use out of them!

                      1. re: missymoto

                        The nerve of her suggesting donating food to a food bank.

                        1. re: missymoto

                          I would think some would think of them as a treat eating them plain.

                        2. re: foodchick45

                          Not so much mean as thoughtless. I too worked at a food bank, and we always had a box of specialty gourmet items that probably came with gift baskets. Twenty-five years later, still remember the canned smoked oysters. . .

                          1. re: myaco

                            I have worked at a food bank, too, and I'm baffled as to why giving people gourmet food is in any way 'thoughtless'. Canned smoked oysters are a delicacy for a lot of people -- why wouldn't someone who's hungry want them? And I know that my grandmother loved to snack on canned olives... while they aren't a meal in themselves, they aren't useless by any means.

                        3. Here's one thing I love that these things go well in. You can actually use more, but my wife doesn't like olives at all so I dialed back the amount for her.

                          Cod Stew Proven├žal

                          1/2 lb. salt cod, soaked and freshened
                          3 smallish White Rose potatoes
                          1/2 med. onion, or one small
                          6 canned whole green chiles, Ortega preferred
                          3 ripe Roma tomatoes
                          1 small can sliced black olives
                          1/2 cup+ olive oil
                          red wine vinegar
                          salt, pepper, Herbes de Provence, Spanish smoked paprika

                          Scrub potatoes if they need it. Place into 2 1/2 qt. pot of cold water, cover. Bring to boil, uncover, salt heavily, and boil for ten minutes. Drain and chill in cold water; peel when cool enough to handle and cut into bite-sized chunks. Cut up codfish similarly, likewise the chiles and tomatoes. Put into a big bowl.

                          Chop the onion coarsely and put on to cook in the half-cup of oil. When it starts simmering pretty well, reduce heat and cover for five minutes or so, then stir in grindings of black pepper, a large pinch of Herbes de Provence and about a half-teaspoon of the paprika. Stir that over heat for a while then dump it in with the rest of the stuff, and follow with the olives. Stir everything together, salt to taste, then transfer it to a coverable casserole dish, preferably one just large enough to contain it with an inch or so of headroom. Drool a bit more olive oil over all, followed by some sprinkling of vinegar. Cover and place in middle of a cold oven. Set heat to 350┬║. Take it out in an hour and set it on a hot tray for another half-hour, unless you can't control yourself. After this you might want to have some pastis while you go out and play a little petanque...

                          Note: last time I did this I soaked a pinch of saffron threads for a while, then stirred them in before putting the dish in the oven. It sort of took it out of Provence and slid it over to Spain. Very nice.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Will Owen

                            adding to the fish idea - i always add sliced canned olives to my "fish packets".
                            fish cooked in parchment or foil, greek style with a little olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar (if you want it), olives, feta, tomatoes and bell peppers, season with whatever in the cabinet like garlic and oregano...delicious and healthy!

                          2. I chop them up for a pasta salad that I make w/ chopped cashews, raw broccoli florets and baby corn.

                            1. Some sort of white fish filet wth a little heft to it- i.e., sea bass, striped bass, scrod. don't know where you live, so choices vary. Chop the olives, mix with chopped tomatoes, add some olive oil.

                              Prepare a piece of tin foil with some olive oil. Place the fillet on the foil, turn the edges of the foil up a bit. Top the fish with the olive mixture. Add a splash of white wine. Seal the tin foil into a pouch. Cook in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.

                              1. I usually add them to pasta with sauteed shallots and garlic, 1-inch bacon pieces, some brocolli and parmesan.

                                1. OP here. Thanks to all for these wonderful ideas. Every one of them dovetails with the orientation of my taste buds.

                                  I've been musing about 2 more classes of recipes, both of which highlight the extremely uniform shape/size of each olive along with the smoothly drilled center hole.

                                  1) Something skewered, like yakitori lined up on a stick; certainly stuffed but also perhaps coated on the exterior. A fried breaded thing? Coated and baked?

                                  2) Something that's roughly the size of small egg, with a central surprise of the olive inside, or the olive just emergent at one end to show its symmetry and machined hole. My mind hasn't been able to get farther than some kind of meatball paste as the exterior, or maybe a gyoza/shumai type of filling, smeared smoothly around the ovoid shape. Would egg whites in the meat paste help it hold its form around the olive?

                                  Do those two spark any ideas?

                                  1. Personally I use kalamatas but my grandma used to make a sandwich filling of cream cheese, chopped (ordinary) black olives, and chopped pecans. You eat this on whole wheat bread. It's very Birthday Party.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Querencia

                                      I mainly use them when my grandaughters come over. they love to put them on their
                                      fingers a eat them that way. or I put them my tamale pie.. I also chop them up and
                                      use them in my macaroni salad. or my stuffing for chicken or turkey. Or you can
                                      go to the california olive assn. website. they have alot of recipes there.

                                      1. re: bigjimbray

                                        I agree, that's why kids like olives, to put on there fingers.

                                        If you have 2 sizes of olives Google olive penguins.

                                        1. re: divadmas

                                          I've made olive penguins. outstanding for decorations on a buffet table.

                                    2. drain them well and make olive and sundried tomato bread. Or olive and parm bread. Or olive and walnut bread.

                                      Hell, with 12 cans, make all three variations and a few more.

                                      1. Steam or grill some calamari, cool and cut int rings. Add some chopped celery, roasted red peppers and sliced (canned) black olives. Toss with salt and pepper, lemon juice and olive oil. Great summer salad!

                                        1. I like to mix finely chopped black olives into my tuna salad.
                                          Put cream cheese filling into a baggie, cut off a corner and fill the olives w/the filling.
                                          Chop the olives, mix w/cream cheese and salsa. spread on flour tortillas, roll up and refrigerate in plastic wrap. When ready to seve, cut eatch roll into slices and insert a "cello frill" toothpick. Very popular.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: laliz

                                            that's a great idea Liz
                                            the brininess of the tangy green ones and the meatiness of the black sounds like a good combo.

                                          2. One of my favorite pizzas is simply mushrooms and black (pitted) sliced olives.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Puffin3

                                              pizza toppings:
                                              black olives/green peppers/pineapple

                                              additions to BBQ beans:
                                              dill pickle chunks
                                              pineapple chunks
                                              whole black olives

                                              I know they both sound awful but had the beans at a wedding shower 20 years ago at the brides parents house in Newport Beach & the pizza topping when I thought of favorite flavors for my half of a pizza when hubby wanted on his side 4 meats

                                            2. We love black olives. We put them on salads, use them in pasta salad, in spaghetti sauce, sliced on top of enchiladas, and, at 53, I still eat them off my fingers right out of the can. LOL

                                                  1. I found this use really interesting - as a substitute for soy ground beef. Have not tried it yet, but maybe Tripeler could explain more about how they're used in chili: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9298...

                                                    I will say one benefit of canned black olives is they are almost always pit free.

                                                    1. Since I can't afford truffles on Eggs Benedict, I have enjoyed the addition of chopped black olives. No way comparable, but works for me.