Greek olives are famous the world over. And with good reason.
With so many delicious varieties to choose between, from juicy and meaty to buttery and briney, there's an olive for every occasion and every palette.
Greek olives, kalamata in particular, are considered some of the healthiest olives in the world. A serving of about four Greek kalamata olives provides around 1 gram of protein, 1 gram of fibre, 320 calories and 8 grams of fat. Although they’re about 80% water, the fat they contain is 'good', a monounsaturated fat known as oleic acid that can help fight cholesterol, reduce inflammation and combat heart diseases.
Here's our pick of some of the best Greek olives for eating or cooking. How many have you tried?
A popular choice, regal and distinctive deep purple and shiny skinned kalamata olives have a rich and fruity flavour, leaving fans in little doubt why they're crowned the queen of olives. Perfect for a tapenade or in a Greek salad.
2. Conservoila olives
(Including Amfissa, Volos, Amphissa, Agrinio, Stylida and Atalanti)
These large, oval olive are some of the most commonly produced table olives produced in Greece. While they start off a rich dark green when unripe they finally turn dark, bluish-black when mature. Delicious served as an antipasto and particularly well-matched with salty capers.
These characteristic round, mellow olives hail from central Greece where they are harvested by hand when very ripe. They have a meaty and mildly sweet soft flesh. Their lemony flavour combines well with feta or goat’s cheese.
This distinctive wrinkled olive is native to Greece and commonly grown in the Attica region. The word 'tsakistes' actually means, 'cracked', in reference to their skin. A perfect match with lemon and coriander flavourings.
The famous pale green oval Halkidiki olive is grown and harvested exclusively in northern Greece on the Halkidiki Peninsula. Their plumpness and meaty bite with a fruity, briny, buttery and pleasantly sour flavour make them a great table olive. They’re also ideal for stuffing with other ingredients such as dried tomatoes or tangy blue cheese.
Want to brush up on your olive geography?
Try this Greek Olive Map we came across by UrbanGrains. Click on the map to enlarge.
Greek olive recipes
Once you’ve decided which olives to use, here are a few easy recipes to showcase them at their best.
Crunchy Italian crostini
Topped with black olive paste and tomatoes, these delicious crostini are easy and quick to make and are the perfect appetiser for a Mediterranean feast.
Simple to make and packed with plant-based flavour, this recipe for vegetarian spaghetti includes green cabbage, capers, gherkins, olives and shallots and will have you well on your way to five a day.
And finally, for something much more exotic, these Cuban plantains served with yellow rice and green olives will bring a hint of Latin America to your weekday menu.
Arguably one of Italy's most successful exports and store cupboard staples, pesto is easy to make at home and lends itself well to variations on a theme. Here are five homemade pesto sauce recipes using classic basil, arugula, kale, cilantro and sun-dried tomatoes.