Are you at a loss of what to pair olives with ? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. The best part is these little guys work very well with pretty much anything, so you’ll have lots of options to choose from. And you can always mix and match several of these ideas to make your own, unique starters or appetizers.
What goes with olives ?
Olives are salty, slightly bitter, and tangy, which means they go well with mild cheese, a low sodium deli meat, egg, leafy greens, cream cheese, most raw veggies, canned tuna (or any fish), any bread product, hummus, or even nuts !
Really, the combinations are endless. You’ll notice we said mild cheese and low sodium deli. This is our personal opinion, since olives are so salty that adding something like Parmesan or an aged goat cheese would be too much. We’ll discuss this in more detail when we get to i.
Until then, know that each and every one of these ideas can be combined in a salad, a starter or appetizer plate, or you can make up a completely new recipe ! Now let’s talk about those options.
Read also: What Goes With Figs ?
1. Cheese – mild, maybe smoked
The best cheeses that go with salty, tangy olives are the milder ones. You should always aim for pairing opposites, so if one ingredient is very strong, pair it with something milder, so they don’t compete for attention.
A mild cheese would be Gouda, Edam, Swiss, Havarti, Jarlsberg, Colby, even a slightly sweet Cheddar could work here as well. Other mild cheeses like mozzarella (aged or fresh) or paneer are also amazing with some green olives, or maybe even kalamata.
Both green and kalamata are very salty and tangy, so they will have a sharp taste. The mild cheese adds background. But if you want to take it a bit further, you may try using feta, which is also a bit salty on its own. Just make sure to keep the rest of the ingredients plain and mild.
2. Low sodium deli meat
Now what does that mean ? Well for one it means something like fried bacon or prosciutto or salami will be too salty and compete with olives. So we recommend going to something milder, like turkey ham, prosciutto cotto (a cooked, less salty prosciutto), or any deli meat you love.
If you do decide to use salty meats with olives, be sure to add a mild buffer, like cream cheese and bread or mild cheese, otherwise the entire mix will be too much.
3. Boiled egg
You might not think to add eggs, of all things, but hear us out. Eggs are a wonderful salt and tang sponge, so you can add a chopped boiled egg to a salad with olives and feta and prosciutto, and it will smooth everything out.
It doesn’t have to be a salad, it can also just be a skewer with your favorite ingredients.
4. Leafy greens
Leafy greens work great to provide some background to the strong olive flavor. Any lettuce will do, but try and add something more interesting, like a slightly bitter radicchio or a flavorful arugula.
You can use these in a salad, or even as the main vehicle for olives. Try this: a radicchio leaf, with herbed cream cheese inside, olive, and topped with a thin slice of prosciutto.
5. Cream cheese
We keep mentioning cream cheese, because we’re very much in love with it ! Yes, cream cheese can smooth out any edges, so it will be a great candidate for strong, briny olives.
It can be any cream cheese, even a vegan cream cheese spread will do. As long as it’s got a good amount of fat, and it’s creamy, it will work the same.
6. Summer veggies like cucumber and tomato
Add some mushrooms while you’re at it ! Mushrooms are best if cooked, but they add a nice meaty note and work great with olives. Other vegetables like cucumber, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, leek, spring onion, bell peppers, zucchini, they all work well with olives, and raw !
So you can skewer any of these veggies with a green olive, maybe add a bit of cheese and arugula while you’re at it. We’re very partial to cherry tomatoes and olives, since they’re just amazing together. The sweet and the tang go great.
7. Canned tuna
This may sound very specific, but hear us out. Canned tuna is nice and salty, briny, and fishy. But olives being a tang that can tone down the fish flavor.
It also works with other fish, such as salmon or cod, but we love the tuna combination for a starter or appetizer. Try and mix a bit of mayo into the canned tuna to form a sort of paste, and spread that onto a Romaine leaf with olives on top.
8. Crackers, bagel, any baked bread product
We really recommend going to something like bread, or bread related. It could be a bagel, a bun, a slice of bread, croutons, crackers, pretzels even ! Ooooh garlic bread with olives !
The point of the bread is to tone down the salty and tangy olives, and provide extra texture in an appetizer plate that may feel like there’s something missing.
And yes, puff pastry will work great too !
This is another spread that will work great with olives, even in its plainest form. Most hummus, when plain, tastes like roast chickpea. So it’s basic enough to not compete with the olives, but you can always season it a little.
Read Also: Is Olive Oil Good For Frying ?
10. Nuts or roast almonds
And finally, try adding nuts to an olive snack. We recommend roasted almonds, as they taste nothing like an almond and everything like heaven. Roast walnuts and pecans also work great here, as do Brazil nuts if you have them.
Now, if there anything you should avoid when pairing olives ? Aside from what we’ve hopefully made clear – salty with salty – there’s not much else to add.
When you construct an entree platter, you need to keep in mind contrasts. A salty and tangy ingredient needs a plain, mild one to contrast it. Much like how coffee goes with milk.