Simple tapas recipes - Table olives

Recipe by Neil Morris - 04 February 2013


Region: All over Spain

Preparation: 15 minutes

Cooking time: no cooking

Oven temp: no cooking

Difficulty: easy

Serves: 4+


No tapas menu would be complete without some delicious Spanish olives to nibble on. They are a staple of every tapas bar around Spain and can be eaten anytime of the day. Olives can be served with beer, sherry, wine or cava and with just about every meal; they are sometimes served plain or they can be stuffed with almonds, anchovies, garlic or pepper. Or sometimes they are simply dressed in oil, vinegar, herbs and spices.

This recipe shows you how to take a jar of deliciously juicy olives and turn it into something really special. A simple but fragrant blend of herbs and spices with oil and vinegar really can transform your humble table olives into delicious treat.

Shopping list

  • 1 cup of green olives, pitted or whole (aceitunas verdes)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds (semillas de comino)
  • 1/2tsp fennel seeds (semillas de hinojo)
  • 1 garlic clove (1 diente de ajo)
  • 1 tsp chopped rosemary (romero picado)
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar (vinagre de jerez)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (aceite de oliva virgen extra)


To make the dressing, crush the cumin and fennel seeds in a pestle and mortar with the garlic and chopped rosemary and pound thouroughly until it forms a paste. Then add the vinegar and oil and keep pounding until you have smooth dressing.

Drain, rinse and dry your olives and then mix with the dressing until well-coated before transferring to a serving dish.

The olives can be stored chilled in an air-tight container for 2 or 3 days.

You can use other seeds and flavours of your choice such as lemon and parsley, orange and oregano or chilli and thyme, just try to avoid using salt as the olives are salty enough on their own. Once you learn to dress your own olives, there is no going back!

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