Picture the Mediterranean and one of the first things you think about in regard to food is olives and olive oil. If you travel through the sunny countryside of Italy, Spain, France, Greece or Turkey to name a few, you will see olive trees planted everywhere and anywhere although mostly in craggy limestone areas. Sometimes you wonder how they can successfully be harvested because of their location on steep hillsides. The trees silvery leaves and twisted trunks seem to give a soft focus to their surrounding countryside.
The olive tree has been mentioned in writings going back centuries. It’s leaves have been a symbol of peace, glory and abundance and have crowned kings and Olympians.
Go into a simple trattoria with worn wooden tables or a lovely fine dining restaurant with white table linen and you will probably be served a bowl of olives with your apéritif or glass of wine while you look over the menu.
Many of the choices from the menu will probably have olive oil in their preparation. Olive oil is considered to be one of the main items in the Mediterranean diet leading towards a good health. Not only it is considered a mainstay of a good diet but it is also contributes greatly to the economies of the countries involved in its production.
If you live in one of the countries where olive production is prominent, you can go to one of the markets where you will have a variety of olives to choose from. They might be brined, salt cured, oil cured, cracked and seasoned, stuffed, or ground and seasoned with herbs and spices.
Even in our country, if you live in an area with a good market, you will likely come across an olive bar. You can also find canned and jarred olives either plain or stuffed with a variety of ingredients such as almonds, garlic or cheese.
If you would like to recreate a feeling of being in one of the beautiful Mediterranean countries, you could try the olive and orange salad that I made. It is refreshing and goes well with many other dishes.
Mediterranean Olive And Orange Salad
- 1 pkg. of baby arugula
- 1 large navel or blood orange, peeled and sectioned, juice retained
- 1/4 small red onion, finely diced
- 1/2 cup sliced green olives of your choice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
Warm the minced garlic in the olive oil to infuse the flavor and set aside. Peel the orange, making sure to remove all the pith. Section the orange between the membranes over a bowl, saving the juice. Cut the orange segments into bit size pieces. Add the garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper to the saved orange juice in the bowl and whisk to emulsify. In a large bowl, gently toss the arugula, olives, orange sections, onions, and dressing to combine.
This salad is delicious with simple grilled meats or seafood. It also goes well with spicy dishes. I hope you will enjoy the salad.