Saturday, July 6, 2019


Black olives from Spain have been hit with high tariffs.

Has the price of black olives skyrocketed at your favorite grocery store? You can thank Trump’s trade wars for that. Black olives from Spain have been hit with tariffs of almost 35 percent. Exports have plunged. According to ASEMESA (the Spanish table olive export board), exports are down 48 percent in the first trimester of 2019 from the same period in 2017, before tariffs were applied. 

OK, you say, you don’t really like black olives anyway. But, there’s no denying the visual impact of sliced black olives on pizza or tossed with salads. For that reason alone, they are a huge export product.

I have a nostalgic fondness for black olives, which I associate with holiday meals in my childhood (Midwest America). Black olives made an appearance, along with cream cheese-stuffed celery, only on special occasions. Velvety-black, salty-sweet, blander than green olives, so-called “ripe” olives were a treat.

In fact, black olives are not actually ripe, nor are they naturally black. (Most varieties of olives turn a deep purple, not black, when fully ripe.) The olives are picked firm and green, processed in an alkaline solution to remove the bitterness. They are allowed to oxidize which darkens them. A ferrous gluconate solution (E579 on European labels) further blackens and fixes the olives’ color.

In Spain, where there are hundreds of types of table olives—green, purple, pink, black—and ways of processing them, canned black ones turn up as garnish. Here are recipes for moje and mojete that are finished with black olives.

Moje manchego is a soupy salad with tomatoes, onions, tuna and, of course, extra virgin olive oil. It's meant to be served with chunks of bread for dipping, dunking, sopping. 

Mojete malagueño is an unusual combo of potatoes and oranges. Black olives make a visual impact. 

Mojete is not a salad, not a soup, not a dipping sauce. It’s a “dunk.” A liquidy salad meant for dunking chunks of bread into. It’s the sort of meal field workers concocted in rural areas. Filling and refreshing. What began as peasant fare, today is enjoyed for fiestas.

Make moje and mojete at least an hour before serving to let the flavors come together. If possible, chill the mixture. Serve with bread for dunking, scooping, sopping. They make good starters or snacks.

Tomato-Tuna Dunking Salad with Black Olives, La Mancha
Moje Manchego

Moje is best with fresh tomatoes, but canned ones can be used too.

I visited the town of Alcázar de San Juan (Castilla-La Mancha) when it was celebrating a local fiesta. At midday groups of friends gathered in the huge central plaza, in the shade of the town hall, where they set up folding tables to prepare this moje. Each group had an enormous earthenware bowl, in which were combined tomatoes, onions, hard-cooked, eggs, tuna, olives, and olive oil to make a soupy-salad. How to eat it? Invited to partake, I was instructed to scoop it up on chunks of bread. Those with country know-how speared the bread on the tip of a pocket-knife and dipped into the moje. 

The tomatoes can be fresh ones or, traditionally, home-canned tomatoes. (Nowadays even canned tomatoes from the supermercado are used.) A food processor works well for chopping the tomatoes and onions. 

Serves 4-6 as a starter or snack.

Scald tomatoes to peel them.
1 ½ pounds ripe tomatoes
1 small onion
1 teaspoon salt
1 small (3-ounce) can tuna or bonito, drained
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
1-2 hard-cooked eggs
½ cup whole or pitted black olives
Bread for dunking

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the tomatoes and boil 30 seconds. Drain and rinse them in cold water. When tomatoes are cool enough to handle, slip off the skins and cut away the stem ends. Chop the tomatoes finely. (If using a food processor, don’t puree the tomatoes; leave them with some chunks.) Place in a bowl.

Mix chopped tomatoes, onion and canned tuna.

Finely chop the onion and add to the tomatoes with the salt and tuna. Add the oil and vinegar and stir to combine. If making ahead, cover and chill the salad until serving time.

Taste the moje for seasoning and add more salt and vinegar if needed. Place in a shallow bowl and garnish with sliced egg and olives.

Málaga-Style Potato-Orange Dunking Salad with Black Olives
Mojete Malagueño con Naranjas

The juice of oranges plus extra virgin olive oil make the dressing for this salad.

This mojete comes from Málaga's inland Guadalhorce Valley, famous for its citrus groves. Potatoes and oranges may sound like an odd combination, but they work surprisingly well together. 

Serves 4 as a starter or snack.

Add olives after mixing.
2 medium potatoes (12 ounces)
1 large navel orange
3-4 spring onions
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup orange juice
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup whole or pitted black olives
Bread for dunking

Peel the potatoes and cut them in ¾ -inch dice. Bring a pan of water to a boil and cook the potatoes until just tender, 5 minutes. Drain them well and place in a bowl.

Olive oil is essential to mojete.

Peel the orange, removing all the white pith. Chop the orange, discarding any seeds and as much of the membrane as possible, but saving the juice. Add the chopped orange and any juice to the potatoes.

Sliver the onions lengthwise. Add to the bowl with the oil, orange juice, parsley and salt and stir to combine. If making ahead, cover and chill the mojete until serving time.

Place the mojete salad in a shallow bowl. Garnish the top with olives. Serve with bread for dunking.

Bread--essential for dipping.

More recipes with black olives:

A report on the tariffs on Spanish table olive exports is here.

No comments:

Post a Comment