Eating and Making Food - Oliva Schiacciate or Calabrian Cracked Olive Salad
One of the great thrills in my life, if you haven’t noticed, is the simple ritual of preparing and eating food. The preparing part fulfills me on a tactical kind of level; that is, finding the ingredients, thinking through how I’ll manipulate the products, and working with the food. The eating part, well, fills my stomach and provides a very basic, yet profound, sense of comfort.
Eating food without family and friends, however, doesn’t provide the same sort of existential experience mentioned. In fact, eating alone is more akin to nihilism; that is to say, denying oneself one of the more meaningful aspects of life?
Eating with family has always been a large part of my life and I suspect it’s the case for many of our readers (Italian and non Italian alike). I’ve also spent a good chunk of my life making food with others and it all started with my mother and grandmother. One dish I was reminded of making with my grandmother recently was oliva schiacciate or Calabrian cracked olive salad. Cracked olive salad is made in Calabria and Sicilia and is great as a side dish with a slice of pizza or with grilled or roasted meats. Here’s the Scordo family recipe (and another great recipe in Italian):
- 1.5 – 2 lb green olives with pits (you can find these at any good Italian market, just mention you’re making Olive Schiacciate)
- 2 Garlic cloves, chopped well.
- 1 Carrot, sliced thin (optional)
- ½ teaspoon of fennel seed (optional)
- 1 medium sized onion, chopped.
- 4-5 stalks of celery or fennel, diced well
- 1 tablespoon of high quality Italian red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
- Sea or Kosher Salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- Crush the olives individually and remove the pit; you can use a hammer like nonna did or a metal meat tenderizer works well. Place the cracked olives in a large bowl and fill with water.
- The olives will need to sit in water for 8-10 days (yes, it’s a long process); changing the water every 24 hours. You should conduct the aforementioned process in a cool area of your home or fridge.
- Once the olives have become soft (note: you’ll want to have some crunch in the olive) remove them from the water and drain in a large colander for 10-12 hours (you can add a heavy object to help remove any excess water).
- Finally, add the rest of the ingredients and stir well. The salad keeps well in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.