For decades now, we've been trying to combat the false concept that fats are making us fat. Since the 1980s, companies and individuals have been vilanizing fat as the culprit behind disease and weight gain. As a result, we've been avoiding some really nutritious foods that are staples in some of the healthiest diets in the world...like nuts AND OLIVES!
About 74% of the fat in olives is oleic acid, which is linked to decreased inflammation and a reduced risk of heart disease and most of the carbs in olives consist of fiber, which we all know is the most important food group for our gut! These are just a few of the reasons they're a common food in the Mediterranean diet and several of the Blue Zone regions.
Personally, olives have been one of my favorite foods since I was a kid at my grandma's holiday dinner table carefully placing black olives on every finger with my cousins before eating them one by one.
Nic on the other hand thought he hated olives..until about 2 months ago when he decided to give them a try again and discovered that his taste buds had changed. He's now a fan, which means he can benefits from the high vitamin E and antioxidant levels, as well as the iron, we get from adding these little flavor and healthy fat bombs to our meals.
With that in mind, Nic and I teamed up with our favorite olive company, Sicilian Village, to bring you 3 amazing and healthy new recipes that feature this unique fruit.
If you're still worried about the fat in olives, remember two things: 1. You get considerably less fat if you eat whole olives vs olive oil and 2. Sicilian Village offers the most perfect portion size packets of their Sicilian-marinated olives that are naturally cured in salt brine and marinated in a family recipe. They're literally bursting with complex and delicious flavors that taste SO much better than most store bought olives that are cured using chemicals to rush the process. While I could eat their large bags in one sitting if I let myself, I save those for cooking up recipes like the ones we're sharing below and I carry the little bags with me for road trips, camping, and on the go snacks that keep me full thanks to fiber and healthy fats.
Here are 3 recipes to get you started introducing olives in your meals.
Note: While you can duplicate these recipes with other olive brands, the flavor won't be quite the same because of the unique marinade flavor Sicilian Village olives bring to these dishes. Nic and I carefully selected our ingredients to compliment the amazing flavors already in our olives of choice.
Sicilian Village Rigatoni
This pasta dish is seriously restaurant quality that you can whip up in your home kitchen in less than 20 minutes. We both rate it a 10 out of 10 and we are our harshest critics. This recipe serves 2.
3 cups of rigatoni (or pasta noodles of your choice)
3 TBSPs of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1.7 oz bag of Sicilian Village Marinated Sicilian Green and Black Olives, sliced
1 TBSP capers
1 TBSP Sun-dried Tomatoes
small handful of arugula
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp of oregano
Pink Himalayan sea salt and black pepper to taste
In a large sauce pan, cook rigatoni to package instructions.
While your pasta is cooking, heat your olive oil over medium heat in a small saute pan. Add the garlic and cook for about 2-3 minutes stirring frequently.
Add the remaining ingredients and cook for another 3-5 minutes until arugula is wilted and flavors have combined. Add a little more olive oil if needed and adjust seasonings to your taste.
Drain your pasta and add to saute pan, toss to coat. Serve with a little freshly shredded vegan parmesan or mozzarella and a good glass of red wine! You won't even miss going out to eat.
Rosemary Garlic Olive Loaves
The texture of this bread is absolutely perfect. You'd never know it's vegan AND gluten-free. This recipe will definitely be showing up on our holiday tables this year, but it's easy enough to make on a Monday night.
2 cups of all purpose gluten-free flour (we use King Arthur's measure for measure)
2.5 tsp of baking powder
1/4 tsp of pink Himalayan sea salt
3 TBSP of freshly chopped rosemary (plus extra for garnishing the tops)
2 tsps of dried oregano
1 tsp of garlic powder
1 1.7 oz package of Sicilian Village Marinated Sicilian Green & Black Olives, chopped
4-6 additional olives for garnishing the tops
1 1/4 cups of almond milk (or plant based milk of your choice)
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 TBSP flax seeds
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and lightly spray a 12 cup muffin tin or 4-6 mini bundt pans (like we used) with olive oil to prevent the bread from sticking.
In a small bowl, mix the almond milk, olive oil and flax seeds and sliced olives. Let it sit while you prepare the dry ingredients.
In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, rosemary, oregano and garlic powder.
Pour the wet ingredients from your small bowl into the large bowl of dry ingredients and mix well.
Fill your muffin tins or bundt pans about 3/4 of the way and top with additional rosemary springs and Sicilian Village Marinated olive slices.
Bake for 20 minutes, until cooked through. Remove from oven and allow them to cool before cutting.
Delicious with vegan butter, dipped in your leftover pasta sauce from recipe 1 or sliced in 1/2 and used as the "bun" for a tomato, spinach and vegan cheese sandwich.
Sicilian Village Bloody Mary
When we were thinking up olive recipes, for some reason, Bloody Mary with an olive stacked garnish stick was the first idea that came to mind. So we created one! And it's the perfect addition to Sunday brunch.
2 oz of Tito's Vodka
4 oz of tomato juice
3 dashes of Tabasco sauce (or more if you like it spicier)
2 dashes of vegan Worcestershire sauce
2 tsps of pepperoncini juice
pinch of black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of smoked paprika
juice/marinade from one 1.7 oz packet of Sicilian Village Marinated Green & Black Olives
2 chunks of cucumber
1 cherry tomato cut in half
1 small chunk of vegan parmesan cheese
1 small slice of vegan chorizo sausage (precooked)
Squeeze the lemon wedge into a shaker bottle and add the marinade from your Sicilian Village 1.7 oz bag.
Add the remaining ingredients to the shaker bottle and shake well.
Fill a tall glass with ice and strain the Bloody Mary mix into the glass.
Layer your garnish ingredients on a long wooden skewer and garnish. Top with a pepperoncini and serve.
Note: You can use a premixed Bloody Mary mixer, but many are not vegan so if you're plant-based/vegan make sure you check the ingredients first.
As easy and delicious as these recipes are, I still find myself using Sicilian Village olive packets most often as a finger food in picnic platters or on the go as a healthy plant-based snack that's easy to keep in my purse for hunger attacks.