My favorite kind of recipes are the ones that combine a few ingredients into something truly extraordinary. Strawberries + sour cream + brown sugar=BAM! It isn’t really cooking, more like assembling. Like this salad, which features the unlikely combination of olives and celery. They combine to form something very special.
I found this recipe in a book on Sicilian cooking, and had been wanting to make it for months. I was waiting for that dark green farmers market celery to arrive. It is more beautiful and flavorful than the pale stuff you find at the grocery store, although both have their merits. This celery also has the advantage of beautiful celery leaves, which add some nice bitterness to the salad. As always with recipes like this, make it with the best ingredients possible. I remember once a friend revealed that he had never eaten an olive. We were at a party and there happened to be a bowl full of olives and so I encouraged him to try one. Oh, they taste like baby corn! Huh? I tried one and they definitely tasted like baby corn. They were some terrible canned olives. Point being, don’t use those for this recipe.
The other point being, this is a fantastic salad that I will definitely make again. I think there is potential to use this as a bruschetta topping, maybe with some fresh cheese (burrata?), but it is great eaten with a fork. We ate half of it before we even brought the bowl to the table.
***Special thanks to Bryan for chopping the ingredients for this salad, even if it took him an hour.
A Salad of Crushed Olives adapted from Made in Sicily by Giorgio Locatelli
- 3 cups good whole green olives in brine
- 7-10 celery stalks*, with leaves if possible, all finely chopped
- the leaves from 7-10 stalks of mint, finely chopped
- wine vinegar
- olive oil
- sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
Drain the olives and pat dry. With a sharp knife, make four cuts in each olive from end to end, then cut each segment away from the stone as carefully as you can. Put the pieces into a bowl and add the celery, the celery leaves and the mint leaves. Toss with the dressing, season and serve.
In other words, dice everything up and throw it in a bowl. You can vary the amount of any of the ingredients to suit your taste. We added more celery than the original called for.
* celery stalk size varies widely. you’re aiming for a 50/50 mix of celery and olives.