Mediterranean Olives

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.

Olive Groves In The Hills Of Provence
Olive Groves In The Hills Of Provence

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.

Olive Tree
Olive Tree

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.

Bowl Of Olives With The Aperitif

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.

Olives Available In The Markets
Olives Available In The Markets

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
Mediterranean Olive And Orange Salad

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.

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I travel the back roads of the world, sharing great food and interesting places and enjoyable pastimes.

164 thoughts on “Mediterranean Olives

  1. I love olives, green and black all of them… and I am lucky one, because my country is an olive land too. Thank you dear Karen, it was a nice post and I loved it. Love, nia

  2. Love olives …. not too keen on the green, but to go to a special olive stand at the market is fantastic – there is 100 and 100 different olives. Very smart of restaurants and bars to give up olives with the drinks, because they make you thirsty and they sell more. *smile Thanks for love photos and great post again.

    1. Thank you Viveka, for your nice compliment. It really is interesting to see so many choices of olives. The different ways they are cured and seasoned effects their overall taste. The restaurants are smart to give olives with the drinks as you say…they probably sell more.

      1. That’s the whole idea behind the olives – now when more and more establishments are aware of how dangerous it’s to serve peanuts – only the dust from peanuts can kill – they more and more goes over to olives instead. Prefer olives with my drinks.

    1. Hi Dana, Nice to hear from you and thank you for your compliment. I like to warm the garlic in oil for a lot of recipes. The garlic infuses the oil with its flavor and the warmth takes away some of the strong raw taste of the garlic itself.

  3. Great post, I am a big fan of extra virgin olive oils, all kind olives, I even find an olive grove poetical.. at that point, 🙂 Have you ever tasted the very small black olives from South of France?Delicious!

    1. Hi Claire, Thank you for your nice compliment. I agree with you about olives and olive oils. I can’t believe how much olive oil I use in my cooking. Not only is it a healthy choice but it adds so much flavor to dishes. I love some of the special extra virgin ones that I use to drizzle over to finish a dish. Yes, the little olives from Provence are some of my favorites.

      1. I meant to tell you that I was thinking about you while writing this post. Do you remember when we met in the Admiral’s Club last fall when we were both heading to Europe. Two strangers sitting next to each other until we both started talking about our iPads and blogging. It really is a small world.

  4. Ah, that was such a lovely post. Loved the salad too, it´s very similar to one we make here (I did a post last year I think, but will need to check) called Ensalada Cateta or Peasant Salad!

    1. Thank you Tanya, for your nice compliment. It is funny but if I had to choose a person who I thought my cooking and tastes were similar to, I think it would be you. I started making this dish when we lived in Florida. The population majority in the Miami area is Latin and both oranges and olives can be found in many recipes.

    1. Thank you for your nice compliment, Claire. Olives are an intrigal part of the Mediterranean lifestyle. I love the briny flavor of the olives with the sweetness of the oranges in this salad.

    1. Hi Naomi, The top photo was taken on the grounds Chateau Saint-Martin in Vence, France. It is an absolutely lovely hotel with beautiful grounds. The walkways are lined with large pots of rosemary, thyme, herbs and wonderful flowers. It is a beautiful area.

  5. That salad looks yummy. I “heart” olives with every fiber of my being. Olives as an apertif would be perfection in my book.

  6. Great posting Karen. I can remember a few years back when we were in Fiesole near Florence. We walked down the hill to catch our bus and stopped to eat some olives ‘right from the tree’…LOL. Forgot that they had to be processed before eating. Needless to say we had to consume lots of wine to get that bitter taste out of our mouths, but it was all part of the adventure. On a subsequent road trip around Tuscany we actually got to harvest the olives with the mechanical rake they use to shake the branches. There were olives flying everywhere!

    1. Hi Reg, That is a funny story. I’m sure they are very bitter before processing. I have seen the trees being shaken and the olives bouncing all over the nets below them. I have never been part of a harvest…that must have been a fun adventure. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  7. I love to taste the different olive oils in a country though I inevitably end up bringing too many bottles home! Olives and blood oranges sounds like a great combination that I must try.

    1. Hi Jenny, Isn’t it interesting how the flavors can be so different when trying olive oils. Even if you by from the same producer, year to year can be so very different. I hope you will enjoy the salad. Thank you for your nice comment.

    1. Hi Maureen, I agree…you just have to love olives. With so many varieties there has to be a favorite for everyone. I think you will enjoy the combination of the sweet orange and the briny olives.

    1. Spain has some wonderful olives and I love the way the Spanish fry everything in their wonderful olive oil. I know that you will have a wonderful trip. Wish I could join you Carolyn, at one of the great restaurants that I know you will try. Have fun.

  8. GREAT salad! I remember those days….we lived near a Blood Orange Grove and at each end were small olive groves with ancient trees. The markets had BARRELS of olives just like your photos….sigh…I loved it!

    1. Thank you Ann, I really think this salad has so much flavor. I know what you mean, there is something romantic about the ancient twisted olive trees…they must have been lovely mixed with the orange trees. The Mediterranean countries are just wonderful.

    1. Hi Chunklet, The salad is a nice mix of savory from the olives, sweet from the oranges and peppery from the arugula. Thank you for you compliment.

  9. I think I was supposed to have been born in Provence. Yep. Mom and Dad must have made a mistake!
    Love the photo of the many different olives at the market too…..Quite pretty.

    1. Hi Sue, I think a lot of us wish we could of been born in Provence. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could at least be able to spend a few months there and experience life like the locals do. The funny thing is that the people who live there probably wish they could come here for awhile. Until then…I’ll just dream.

  10. The black sun dried olives are my favourite and I could see them pairing with the sweet orange in your salad (they tend to be rather salty). I had no idea there were so many varieties of olives. That photo of Provence is lovely, those Cypress trees are so typical of that area and the gorgeous silver green leaves of the olive trees.

    1. Hi Eva, My husband loves the black oil cured olives that are dry and wrinkly. We always have some in the refrigerator. They do go very will with the the oranges. You are right, the first photo is so typical of the area…such beauty to be found along the Mediterranean. Thank you for your comment.

  11. As others have said above, I love your “ode to Olive!” and of course some roasted shrimp would be terrific with that salad to make it a meal! I LOVE olives (all kinds!) and olive oil but sadly I been battling some crazy and serious food allergies for the last 6 months, but recently, finally finding the “smoking guns” and it seems among a few other things (sesame) I am allergic to olives! weird right? – As I “detox” over the next few months I hope to re-introduce olives/olive oil in moderation. (I was eating it before with seemingly no effects so…) but in the meantime I am just quietly using walnut oil for salad dressing, canola for cooking and walking sadly past the olive bar. But don’t be sad for me – feeling better and not having hives daily far out-weighs any olives I might like to eat!!

    1. Hi Carol, I have another recipe up that you will like…a salad topped with shrimp coming soon to this blog. Oh…it is terrible about finding you are allergic to olives. Hopefully you may be able to reintroduce them into your diet in the future. Walnut oil is delicious on salads. I’m happy that you are feeling better, we certainly don’t want you having hives. Thank you for your nice compliment.

      1. thanks- since I was eating olives and olive oil regularly up until last fall I think it was the sesame oil that I had recently started using (raw, as a moisturizer on my skin!!) that “put the whole thing over the top” so to speak. I expect to resume olive consumption (in moderation) after a while. I will never return to and (not really miss that much) the sesame again.

  12. I have a confession to make … I’ve never tasted an olive in my life. I’m afraid to as I get revolted by the look and smell pickles of any kind. It took me into my mid teens to be willing to taste MUSTARD. I DO like pickled ginger though but then I ate it as part of sushi …

    1. Oh my goodness, Boleyn! I can’t believe that you have never tasted an olive. You are such a good cook and adventurous too. If you don’t like the look and smell of pickles then you might try the black oil cured olive if you do try one. No pickling juices involved with those but they do tend to be a little more bitter than the plain black olives from California that come in a can. They are probably the mildest olive there is. Do you use olive oil? Thank you for your comment and for sharing…it is always nice to learn a little more about you. By the way, how is your basil doing?

    1. Hi Celia, Thank you for your compliment. I had no idea that Australia produced olive oil. It makes sense as you have the perfect climate for growing olives. That is what I love about blogging…I am always learning something from my friends.

  13. I never like to run out of olive oil. I’m sure it’s an ingredient I use daily. What a lovely looking salad. I love the colours. I’ve never had oranges and olives together. I’ll have to try this. xx

    1. I’m with you about olive oil, Charlie. I buy several bottles at a time and use it almost everyday as well. I think you will like the blend of savory and sweet in this salad. It is very nice, especially with the peppery arugula.

  14. That salad does look delicious, with the orange to give it a little sharp freshness. Of course, here in the Languedoc there is no shortage of olives….even at 6 a.m.!

    1. Thank you Teleri, for your nice compliment. You really don’t have to worry about a shortage of olives in your lovely area.

  15. Love all the information about olives in this post! The salad looks delicious. I think I could eat olives at every meal!

    I’m very fortunate to be able to get olives, olive oil, sheep’s milk feta (divine) locally via Greece. I buy them from Lakonia Greek Products in Saco, Maine.

    I first met the owner at a farmers market and was not disappointed with her products. The next time you’re in Saco, Maine you should check them out. Here’s there website Enjoy!


    1. Hi Mary, Thank you for the information and if I find that I will be in the area I will check them out. Greek olives and olive oils are wonderful. Thank you for your nice comment.

  16. I never thought of pairing olives with oranges. That sounds like a very flavorful combination. And anything that reminds me of the Mediterranean is good by me. 🙂

    1. Hi Kristy, I think you would enjoy the combination. This fresh salad goes well with foods that you may be grilling this summer. Thank your for your nice comment.

  17. I would love to actually see olives hanging from a tree. Your photos are fantastic, Karen. I love olives but would have never thought to put them with oranges. I am intrigued.

    1. Thank you Candace, for your nice compliment. It really is interesting seeing the olives in their natural state. The sweetness of the oranges and the briny flavor of the olives in this salad goes great with a meal that might be a little spicy or equally well with a simple chicken dish. I hope you will try it.

    1. Hi Natalia, Thank you for your compliment. After living in Florida for many years, oranges have always been a part of my life. I think their sweetness marries well with the savory olives in this salad.

  18. You have presented your info in a delightful manner and provided a great intro for your recipe. Arrived in Rockport today!

    1. Hi Lulu, Thank you for your lovely compliment. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Nice to know that you arrived safely in Maine. Not the best of weather for sure but let’s hope we both have a lovely summer in our Maine homes.

  19. Really stunning photos, Karen, and I love the contrast of the sweet orange and the briny green olives. I’ve made a similar salad with kalamata, but I love the idea of the green…and will try it!

    1. Hi Betsy, Thank you for your nice compliment. I know the salad would be good with kalamata olives as well but give the green olives a try.

  20. I would never have thought to pair the two! Olives and oranges are both constant companions in our kitchen, and this must be quite delicious! California produces lots of olives! We have a great Mediterranean climate that at least mirrors some of the conditions in the wonderful countries you mentioned! Climate may be where the similarities begin and end. LOL! But to your point, hooray for olives! 🙂 Debra

    1. Hi Debra, Yes…the California black ripe olive is the first olive I ever ate. One of the delicious olive oils I use is made in California. I think that you will really enjoy this salad as an accompaniment to many dishes.

  21. What a brilliant idea to combine olives and oranges! I would have never thought about such a salad but it looks delicious and very Mediterranean indeed. When I think about the South of France I always have in my head cypress trees like the ones on your photo…

    1. Hi Sissi, The first photo is so typical of south of France. Cypress and olive trees are very prevalent in the landscape of Provence. The salad has a wonderful combination of flavors that I think you will enjoy.

  22. A dish of olives and a dish of Parmesan pieces are my favorite go-to appetizers. Luckily, we have two wonderful olive bars in my area, so I have some lovely choices. Super photos, Karen! And a delicious salad too!

    1. Thank you for your nice compliment Barbara. Dishes of olives and Parmesan pieces with a glass of wine is a lovely way to start a meal.

  23. Hi Karen,

    My wife always makes me laugh when she ponders about olives. She always wonders how on earth someone discovered how to unlock their glory in the beginning because in their raw form they’re pretty nasty. It’s not until you prepare them in some way that they become palateable. Did someone try to eat one and then say “ah, I know, dropping these in a bucket of salt for a few days will make it edible?” 😀

    Hmm, you suddenly made me want to eat olives right now 😀

    1. Hi Charles, It really does make you wonder how olives came to be a part of the food we eat. Especially so many centuries ago when they first started the process. There may be a run on olives at the markets…I seem to have made everyone want to eat olives. Thank you for your comment.

  24. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an olive tree. Wonder if anyone grows them in the US? I’m lucky to have a market nearby that has a fabulous olive bar! Great post Karen. Wonderful looking salad.

    1. Hi Lea Ann, Thank you for your nice compliment. Most of the canned ripe olives in our country come from California. I don’t know if they are grown commercially in other states. We are lucky that so many markets have wonderful olive bars where we can try different varieties.

  25. There’s something about olives that puts a smile on my face. I grew up with my dad eating loads of olives while drinking wine and asking me about my day… now i can’t seem to not put olives on things.
    Thanks for a great post! 🙂

    1. Hi Cayla, My parents would always put out a bowl of olives when they had friends over. I agree with you, I use olives in many recipes. Thank you for your nice compliment.

    1. Hi Cathy, I love the olive groves…the twisted trucks of the trees, their silvery leaves and all the olives just waiting to be picked. I’m glad that you like the salad…I think it goes well with so many dishes.

  26. I’m a big fan of olives and a store with an olive bar is always a draw for me. Thanks to Sam Hoffer I can now appreciate that oranges can go well with things I wouldn’t expect – your salad sounds very refreshing.

    1. Hi Larry, It really is a refreshing salad. I’m glad Sam has educated you on the wonders of oranges. They are a nice addition to many recipes. Thanks for your comment.

    1. Thank you Jeannee, for your nice compliment. It really is nice that we are getting a good assortment of olives in our markets.

  27. Your slad looks so refreshing!
    I am definitely a lover of olives! My in-laws had olive trees in Italy and preserved their olives with a dash or two of hot pepper skins and some garlic gloves. They were so delicious! There is nothing as wonderful as the first press of olives..the extra, extra virgin oil. It is exquisite!

    1. Hi Pat, Thank you for your nice comment. The salad really is refreshing. I know that your in-laws olives had to be delicious…the hot pepper skins and garlic had to have given a nice flavor. We used to get first pressed oil from a small producer in Tuscany that was exceptional.

  28. Such gorgeous pictures, Karen–I want to be there! I’m not a fan of olives, unfortunately, but clearly need to change that so I can enjoy delicious salads like this!!

    1. Thank you Caroline, for your nice compliment. I can understand that you might not care for olives, especially some of the briny green ones. I have found that over time many of my tastes have changed…who knows someday you may find a particular variety of olive that you like.

    1. Hi Sharyn, Thank you for your nice compliment. California does grow a lot of olives. Does your friend cure her olives herself or does she sell them to a processor?

    1. Hi Anna, Thank you for your compliment. Yes…the photos are from our trip to Provence last fall. The light was just amazing that day and I was able to get good photos. I’m glad you like them.

    1. Hi Liz, I so enjoy the refreshing flavors of this salad and it really does make me think of Provence. Thank you for your nice comment.

    1. Hi Tandy, The orange and olive salad is a wonderful combination of flavors. I think you would really enjoy it. Thanks for your comment.

  29. It’s just amazing the conditions that olives grow in. You are making me miss the olive vendors at the markets in Provence. Love your salad with oranges. I make something similar with black olives and onions. I will definitely try this. Thanks!

    1. You are so right Sam…some of the places where the trees grown don’t look like they would support the growth of a tree. I miss Provence too…this is usually the time of year when I am planning a trip. I remember your lovely salad, very similar. I like to use red onion with mine when the onions are nice and sweet.

    1. Thank you Claudia for your lovely compliment. Olives have certainly had their part in the history of food. I hope you will enjoy the salad.

  30. Still playing catch-up, Karen …
    WHen I was a young boy, Dad would take me to an Italian market and they had barrels of olives of every kind imaginable. He let me taste as many as I liked and I quickly learned which ones to avoid. I’ve never seen such a collection over here since then — until I saw the pic of the olive bar. All that’s missing are some whole prosciutto hanging from the cross beams and a little sawdust on the floor … 🙂

    1. Hi John, I have been playing catch-up as well but not doing a great job. We have been traveling back and forth between New Hampshire and Maine. Just got the internet connection working…a branch had taken down the line. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have an Italian market like that again. At least we have a decent selection in some of the markets.

    1. Hi Nigella, I’m happy to have brought back memories of your recent trip to France. Olives are very prominent in dishes in southern France. Thank you for your comment.

    1. Hi Donna, Thank you for your comment. It appears that it is not strange to like olive oil but not olives…you are the third person that has said they didn’t care for olives.

  31. lovely your pictures, from where they belonged? I mean, which country? oranges and green olives is an interesting combination.

    1. Thank you Barbara, for your nice compliment. The photos were taken last fall when we were in France…the area around Vence. The orange and olive salad is a nice flavor combination…sweet, briny and peppery.

    1. Hi Susan, The combination of flavors works really well. I’m with you…it would be nice having the salad while enjoying the Provence scenery.

  32. As always, your photos are just gorgeous. Having just returned from Italy, I am totally craving Mediterranean flavors. The salad looks perfect.

    1. You are always so kind. Welcome home from your trip…I know that you must of had a great time. The salad will remind you of the Mediterranean flavors that you enjoyed.

  33. Love all of your pictures! The picture of the olive bar has my mouthwatering! I’ve only seen one olive bar and didn’t want to leave. 🙂 Your salad is gorgeous and I love the mix of citrus with olives. Great salad!

    1. Thank you MJ, for your nice compliment. It really is a salad that has lots of flavor. Aren’t olive bars great fun…so many choices.

  34. Love! What a delightful summer salad. I’ve been in salad mode lately and I can’t wait to make this. The flavor combinations are perfect. Sweet and salty. Yum!

  35. Hi Karen! I just got back from Italy and the sight of the olive trees was one of my favorite memories! I even saw small ones for sale in nurseries. I wanted one as a souvenir… 🙂

    1. Hi Meg, I know you must have had a wonderful trip. Seeing the wonderful olive orchards are an amazing sight. Oh…too bad we can’t’ bring plants back as souvenirs.

    1. Thank you Beth, for your nice compliment. Provence is such a wonderful place to visit. I hope I get to return…it is lovely and the food is wonderful.

  36. I have been to the Mediterranean and was amazed at the olive trees growing wild and everywhere. Also, it was noted the fig trees. I traveled through Croatia last summer and it was a surprise to me to see figs growing up out of the streams.

    I returned wanting to see if it was possible to grow olives in the south and there is actually a small grower in the panhandle of Florida- I will be visiting this fall.

    Thanks for sharing your travel journey and great olive and orange salad.


    1. Thank you Velva, for your nice compliment. Seeing olive trees growing in areas of the Mediterranean where you would think nothing would grow is something to remember. It will be interesting to see if olive groves are successful in the panhandle of Florida. I would think the climate would be compatible.

  37. Lovely post Karen-in my mind I can almost feel that warm Mediterranean sunshine and smell the aromatic herby air as I sip a cool glass of wine and tuck in to a bowl of delicious olives…unfortunately it is all in my mind, as I sit inside here in Wales watching the rain falling-yet again…ho hum…

    1. Hi Dragonette, Thank you for your nice compliment. Unfortunately it has been raining here for three days with more to come. I wish we were both sipping a glass of wine along with a bowl of olives in the warm sunshine.

    1. Thank you Richard. And thank you again for thinking of my blog for the 7 x 7 Link Award. I hope you enjoyed my selection of posts.

  38. so many olives! although I can’t honestly say that I’m a huge fan of olives in general, your beautiful photos are making me rethink that, and I’m feeling quite tempted to try that salad…:)

    1. Thank you for your comment. You might want to make the salad with the oranges and arugula, then top with just a few olives of your choice.

    1. Hi Ducky, Isn’t it amazing the different variety of olives in the Mediterranean markets. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  39. Your photos are absolutely gorgeous. I especially love the one of the barrels of olives at the market. Going to local markets in foreign countries is one of my favorite travel pastimes. Thanks for taking us along on this mini-adventure!

    1. Hi Yankeepant, Thank you for stopping by for a visit and your nice compliment. I’m glad you enjoyed the little adventure. I wish olive trees could survive in our cold climate…I’d love to grow a couple.

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