Everyday Cooking

Sicilian Green Olive Salad

June 17, 2014

Every Tuesday, Italian expat Emiko Davies is taking us on a grand tour of Italy, showing us how to make classic, fiercely regional dishes at home. 

Today: Put your celery leaves to good use -- and let your olives take center stage -- with this zingy Sicilian salad.

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Insalata di olive verdi schiacciate -- a salad of "squashed" green olives -- is a refreshing, flavorful, and easy dish, where green olives are the protagonist and celery leaves are a surprisingly good supporting act. 

It's as simple as can be, but some may add a kick of fresh red chile, thinly sliced, or even a handful of chopped pistachios. You may also like to include some of the celery stalk, sliced, for added crunch. But the essence of this salad is its simplicity and freshness. There is something wonderful about the way the flavor of the celery leaves mingles with the briny green olives and mint -– these ingredients, and their careful balance, are essential. Because of its punch, this is a salad that you only need a small amount of -- it is ideal as part of an antipasto (a typical way to eat olives in Sicily), or as a side dish served with grilled or roasted meat.

More: For a different Italian salad, pair those olives with crunchy fennel and citrus.

Green Olives  Green Olives

Since this is such a simple dish, you want the good stuff. So don't use up those wilted celery leaves at the bottom of your vegetable crisper; rather, think of these as crisp salad leaves. Get yourself some of the prettiest celery you can find and use the smaller, more tender leaves. And don't skimp on the olives -- the better their quality, the better this dish will be. Although you may be tempted to skip the squashing and deseeding (it is the only laborious part of this recipe) in favor of already pitted olives, just be sure that you're still getting really delicious, good quality olives. Finish them with a really fresh extra-virgin olive oil to bind it all together.

Sicilian Green Olive Salad (Insalata di Olive Verdi Schiacciate)

2 cups (about 200 grams or 7 ounces) good quality green olives
A handful of celery leaves, from about 2 stalks
A handful of mint leaves
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Emiko Davies

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The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.


Valeria June 18, 2014
This is amazing, Emiko, I didn't know about this salad and looks like a killer – gotta try it soon!
jeanmarieok June 17, 2014
I can't wait to make this - gotta find the right little green olives. This is going to be killer good!
Marian B. June 17, 2014
I absolutely love this.
Emiko June 17, 2014
Thank you, Marian!!
em-i-lis June 17, 2014
Beautiful picture! And the recipe sounds wonderful!
Paula June 17, 2014
just had some of this salad for dinner... my grandmother used to let us smash the olives, which was fun, and she added just a small amount of red onion to the salad. It's delicious...
Emiko June 17, 2014
Oh nice idea with the red onion!