We were settling into our gargantuan apartment in the Masseria called Posta Santa Croce after a long drive from Tuscany when our host Pietro asked, “do you want some olives to cook for dinner?”
Hmmmm. Olives you cook? He went to get a basket while we pondered what might happen next.
Pietro led us through an olive grove in front of the masseria until we came to a particular tree. He hopped up on a stone wall. “We’ve already picked all the sweet olives accessible from the ground” he informed us.
While filling the basket he told us how to cook them.
The Recipe (and Variations) for Olive Dolci
Chop some onion, rinse the olives, and heat some olive oil in a pan. Add the onion and olives and sautee for five minutes, add abundant salt. Serve.
How’s that for simple? The olives, although they look the same as the olives cured for eating and pressed for oil, soften up during the 5 minutes of cooking, becoming like a warm cherry in consistency.
You can substitute small tomatoes for the onion and either saute them together until the tomatoes split open—or oven bake the dish.
Why hadn’t we heard of this fantastic dish? We’ve generally, it turns out, visited Puglia in the spring, before the olives are ripe.