Olives have a distinctive flavor and are almost always brined when purchased. This gives them a very strong and salty taste. A good olive marinade can work with this flavor and help to enhance it. Marinated olives can be used as an Italian antipasto, snack, appetizer or table dressing. There are a variety of different marinades, each adding a distinct flavor to the olives.
An important thing to understand when trying to find the best olive marinade is that it will take time for the marinade to penetrate the olives. A very strong marinade might need to sit in the refrigerator for only an hour, while a more subtle one could require up to eight hours. Allowing enough time for the marinade to merge with the olives will showcase the true flavor of the dish.
A basic olive marinade for a dish that is not too spicy might involve olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic and basil. This blend accents the slightly fruity flavor of the olives while also drawing out some of their salt into the oil. For a little heat, red pepper flakes also can be added.
Another type of olive marinade that accents the fruity taste of olives involves lemon and cilantro. In addition to pepper, olive oil and vinegar, slices of lemons are added to the mixture. Diced cilantro is sprinkled into the oil and the blend is left to marinade the olives for up to six hours.
A more savory olive marinade can be made with garlic, thyme and allspice. It starts with an olive oil base before the three spices are added, along with parsley and pepper. Honey and orange zest help to balance out the flavors. This is intended to be eaten as an appetizer.
A Spanish olive marinade that might be best for grilled meats consists of basil, garlic, lemon and onions. Instead of adding oil and vinegar to this marinade, one simply puts all the ingredients into the original brine in which the olives came packed. The result is a sharp, savory tasting olive.
Black olives have a distinctly different taste from green olives. An olive marinade for these types of olives needs to be slightly stronger than those for the green variety. One example mixes hot pepper flakes, rosemary, thyme, oregano, garlic and bay leaves in olive oil. Some red wine vinegar is added and the entire mixture sits for at least two days in the refrigerator before serving.