If you’ve ever had a muffuletta, then you’ve had olive salad.
Olive salad is generally a combination of green olives, black olives, olive oil, celery, cauliflower, carrots, sweet peppers, onions, capers, parsley, pepperoncini, oregano, garlic, vinegar, herbs and spices, or so Wikipedia tells me.
But it doesn’t take a lot of imagination, or Googling, to figure out that Mediterranean people have been combining olives, olive oil, other vegetables and herbs and spices for eons.
In Italy, they call it sottaceti, or “under vinegar,” which is a way to pickle interesting things they might serve as an antipasto.
Olive salad from Central Grocery in New Orleans, is renowned as is their famous muffuletta sandwich (olive salad, mortadella, salami, mozzarella, ham, and provolone).
Olive salad has countless other uses: add it to pasta or rice for a salad, to a burger or hot dog for a delightful different take on a classic American foundation.
Add olive salad to an omelet, make an appetizer of it by anointing sliced, grilled dark bread (see the deli at most grocery stores for their in-house baked breads) for a different look at bruschetta. Add a few dollops to your grilled cheese sandwich, toss in cherry tomatoes and cubed feta cheese for another salad idea, or even add it to your egg salad.
Olive salad is about as versatile a prepared food, as can be found, and it is a great one at that.
Other options include adding olive salad to boiled shrimp, ham salad or as a garnish on a roast beef sandwich.
You get the idea.
As olive salad is purchased already prepared, these recipes are simple and quick to put together.
I have listed red pepper flakes as an option in all of these recipes, but I know some like it a bit spicier than others.
I think beside the small amount of heat, red pepper flakes add a depth of flavor.
Rotisserie chicken and cashew olive salad
1 rotisserie chicken de-boned (takes about 4 minutes)
Olive Salad, 1-2 cups (just depends on the ratio you like)
1 cup salted cashews
Pinch or two of red pepper flakes
Mix the ingredients well, serve as a salad, sandwich or taco. Add sliced jalapenos if you want a little spicy kick.
Hot Dog with Olive Salad
1-2 grilled hot dogs per person
Hot dog buns
2-3 tablespoons olive salad
Optional red pepper flakes, just a pinch or two and sliced jalapenos for a bigger kick.
Make sure to grill the hot dogs on a hard-wood charcoal fire, the smoky flavor is the best. Use traditional hot dog buns or, my favorite, King’s Hawaiian hot dog buns. Grill the dogs, add to bun and load with olive salad. Spice it up if you like with the jalapeno slices.
Pasta and olive Salad
1-pound small pasta shapes (elbow, farfalle, penne etc.)
1-2 cups olive salad
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Optional red pepper flakes and additional olive oil
Cook the pasta according to package directions, making sure it is al dente, never over cook pasta until it is mush. Mix in the olive salad. If you are an olive oil snob, add a little more of that extra good oil you are holding back. Toss the pasta to mix well, plate and garnish with the Parmigiano-Reggiano. This salad is good cold or still warm.