Olivada is an olive pate from Spain which is similar to the better-known French tapenade. It can be made with black or green olives, smooth or chunky, and with the addition of a variety of other Mediterranean ingredients. It’s very quick and easy to prepare and makes a great party hors d’oeuvre or snack when served on toasted bread with vinegar caviar balls.
This olivada recipe is one that can be made any time of year and for any occasion but the inspiration struck me as we are approaching the holidays and I’m in need of more easy vegan appetizers to accompany my Mediterranean stuffed mushroom recipe.
It couldn’t get much easier than olive pate. Simply get some olives, chop them or pulse them in a food processor along with some sun dried tomatoes, red onion, garlic and a pinch of salt and you’re done.
For maximum flavour, you’ll want to choose good quality olives for this recipe, the kind that you can get from the olive bars in many big supermarkets or delis. None of those cheap-o, tinny tasting canned olives here!
It’s worth noting that most olivada recipes call for a couple tablespoons of olive oil. I didn’t feel it was necessary to add any oil to my olive pate as the olives and sun dried tomatoes were packed in oil to begin with and added enough oil to the recipe for my taste.
But you can go ahead and add a little drizzle of olive oil if you feel the olivada is too dry or your olives are lacking a bit of flavour.
If you want you can stop here and serve the olivada as is on top of sliced bread, crackers or veggies, or you can add a little sparkle to it with some vinegar caviar balls.
Cold oil spherification is a molecular gastronomy technique that I first tried with my gazpacho with balsamic caviar recipe (see that recipe for photos of the process). It’s extremely simple (and fun) to do and for this olivada recipe I’ve used red wine vinegar to make little pink balls.
It’s simply a mix of agar agar and vinegar dropped from a syringe into a tall glass of very cold oil. The droplets form balls and congeal as they sink to the bottom of the glass.
Strain the oil and you’ve got a tasty and decorative “caviar” to top your olivada, gazpacho, or anything else you can think of! If you’ve got a very nice flavour-infused balsamic vinegar, it would be great to try this technique.
Serves 6 - 8 as finger food
Olivada is an olive pate from Spain similar to tapenade. It’s easy to prepare and makes a great party hors d’oeuvre or snack when served on toasted bread.
15 minPrep Time
10 minCook Time
25 minTotal Time
- Half a red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 500 grams (18 oz) good quality black and green olives
- 8 – 10 sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 - 2 tablespoons olive oil (optional)
- 2 small cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Fresh herb of choice (basil, parsley, cilantro, etc.), for garnish
- A baguette or crusty bread, sliced and toasted
- 1.5 grams (0.05 oz) agar agar
- 1/3 cup plus 1.5 tablespoons red wine vinegar (or any other type of vinegar)
- 2 cups of oil
- Pulse the onions in a food processor until finely diced. If they are quite spicy, put them in a bowl and cover with cold water while you prepare the other ingredients.
- Pit the olives if necessary and pulse them along with the sun dried tomatoes in the food processor. You can leave them a bit chunky like mine or processes them into a paste with a tablespoon or two of olive oil.
- Drain the red onion and combine them in a bowl with the olives, sun dried tomatoes, garlic, and salt. You can add a bit of olive oil if you want, I didn’t add any. Garnish with fresh herbs and vinegar caviar balls and serve with toasted bread.
- Put the oil into the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour until it is almost to the point of freeing. If it starts to freeze around the edges, give it a stir.
- If using agar agar powder, put the vinegar into a small pot over medium heat and add the agar. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, until the agar has fully dissolved - 5 to 10 minutes.
- If using agar strings/threads, soak the agar in 1/4 cup of water for 30 minutes and put the vinegar in a small pan. Put the agar and water into a small pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, until the agar has fully dissolved. When the agar is beginning to dissolve, turn the heat on under the vinegar and bring it to a simmer. Pour the dissolved agar into the heated vinegar, stirring constantly.
- Take the vinegar and agar mix off the heat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes while stirring constantly. When it feels like it’s beginning to thicken, take your oil from the freezer and pour it into a tall glass. Put some vinegar into your dropper or squeeze bottle and start dropping it into your cold oil. Depending on the size of the hole in your bottle, one drop will make caviar-sized balls, 3 drops in the same place will make pearl-sized balls. I recommend working with a small amount of vinegar at a time to develop your technique and putting the remaining vinegar over low heat to prevent it from solidifying while you work.
- If your balls are deformed it could be that your vinegar is still too hot or your oil isn’t cold enough. If your vinegar gets sticky before you’re finished, put it back into the pot and warm it slightly.
- Strain the caviar from the oil and rinse under cold water.