Italian Olives: Taggiasca and Castelvetrano


(photo:  The lovely Taggiasca olive from Liguria in northwestern Italy) 

We often talk about the importance of the Italian pantry and how critical it is to have certain staple ingredients in your kitchen at all times.  Keeping a well stocked pantry means you’ll never starve, order out, and be relegated to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner.  Among the universal items we keep in our kitchen/pantry are olives; specifically, Taggiasca and Castelvetrano varieties.

The Taggiasca olive is grown primarily in the provinces of Savona and Imperia in northwestern Italy (Ligurian region).  The Taggiasca olive is small with a fruity aroma and delicate, almost buttery, flavor.  In Italy, the olive is a favorite for antipasto and is used in both pasta and fish dishes.  We sampled a variety of Taggiasca in a brine and enjoyed the olives with cheese, salumi, and good bread.   Taggiasca is also used in olive oil production.

(photo: the lime green Castelvetrano olive and the black/brown Taggiasca olive)
Castelvetrano olives are grown in the Sicilian town of Trapani and are known as the varietal nocellara del belice.   Castelvetrano have become very popular in America and have a very clean, and somewhat tart, flavor.  Whole Foods claims the olive is a top seller and most customers use them as a snacking olive.   Castelvetrano olives have a vivid, almost lime-like, color (due to brining) and are very meaty with a mild flavor profile (hence their popularity).  The olives would work well in a salad, in a gin martini, and with great mozzarella and bread!

(photo: the Castelvetrano olive from Trapani, Sicilia)

Find It: Olives at Alma Gourmet with a 10 percent coupon when you use “SCORDO” at checkout)

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