My family doesn't like olives, and there are several recipes that I cook that have olives as an ingredient. I don't want to miss a flavor; anyone have a suggestion as to what I could sub for the olives? Thanks.

  • Posted by: phyllis
  • February 10, 2011
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  • 23 Comments

23 Comments

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mrslarkin
mrslarkin February 10, 2011

What are the recipes you cook? We could probably be more help if you can tell us what some of your recipes are.

But in general, capers might do the trick. Or anchovies - they'll just melt into whatever it is you're making and they won't even know it's there. Sneaky, right? It's the briny/salty flavor you're looking to replicate.

But I'm guessing if they don't like olives, they won't like capers. :(

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drbabs
drbabs February 10, 2011

My husband hates olives precisely because he doesn't like the briny/salty flavor, so he therefore hates capers (and a lot of other things. But I digress...). I usually make the dish without the olives (or capers or cheeses or anchovies etc etc etc...) and then add them to mine. It isn't the same--you miss that melted-in-goodness--but marriage is all about compromise, right? Right?

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pierino
pierino February 10, 2011

Did you raise a family of Bolsheviks or something? I can sort of understand people not liking anchovies. But olives and capers? My method is to use all three but disguise them, Italian salsa verde for example. As long you don't tell them what the ingredients are they may love it. "Oh, it's parsley and basil and stuff..."

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ChefDaddy
ChefDaddy February 10, 2011

If the dish calls for olives and is part of the flavor profile for the dish I think it might be possible to continue using olives in the dish but disguise them in a way that they don't bite into a large peice of olive. Maybe a fine chop or a puree that would continue to impart flavor but not a garnish. Just a thought. Good luck.

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usuba dashi
usuba dashi February 10, 2011

I bet if you take the olives and puree them into the recipe so your husband can't them, he will never know! Sneaky, but worth a try

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louie734
louie734 February 10, 2011

I wasn't fond of some olives myself for awhile, although I tried to eat them on/in things that I otherwise liked. Then, when using a recipe for a delicious white pizza with broccoli rabe and black olives, I was instructed to 'rinse the olives, if they taste salty'.... that step has made a world of difference. I am no longer turned off by that slimy, briney, salty taste. It's worth a try in your household!

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Blissful Baker
Blissful Baker February 10, 2011

As an olive hater, I've gotta tell you that sneaking them in isn't a good idea. It's not the texture we hate; it's the taste & the way that taste permeates an entire dish. I don't like mushrooms either, but mushrooms are mild, so I can still enjoy a meal with mushrooms in it (although you'll find a little pile of mushrooms on my plate when I'm done - yes I still have little bit of a kid in me). However, if there's olives in a dish, I taste it in every bite & stop eating the meal altogether. Pureeing it & mixing it in would make the taste permeate all the more. Drbabs advice is the one to follow.

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drbabs
drbabs February 10, 2011

Thanks, BlissfulBaker: when I saw pierino's suggestion I was about to write the same thing. I think if I snuck the things my husband hates into his food, he would consider it grounds for divorce.

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ChefDaddy
ChefDaddy February 10, 2011

Well, I have some olive hating in-laws that hate the texture not the flavor so I think one would have to figure out what kind of olive hater you have. But, I'm the kind of cook that doesn't have any patience for picky eaters so in my opinion they get what they get and they can take it or leave it. But, like drbabs I would never do this to my spouse only to her family. (Ha Ha Ha!) But, in reading BB post I think if the flavor of olives permeates a dish the cook maybe have added too much. I believe in flavors having balance not domanance.

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healthierkitchen
healthierkitchen February 10, 2011

drbabs is really nice. I just make the dish as is, and let them push the olives to the side. Then I eat them. In my house, they'd push capers aside as well. I will say that no one has yet complained (or even noticed) when I melt anchovies into a dish. But I think it's a different flavor than olives. Olives are briny, but fruity, while the anchovies miss that part of the flavor profile. I have found, though, that Castelvetrano and Cerignola (rinsed) are easier to like. They are fruitier than they are salty and taste really fresh.

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healthierkitchen
healthierkitchen February 10, 2011

Also, a little preserved lemon might work.

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Bevi
Bevi February 10, 2011

Well, I was always taught "you get what you get and you don't get upset," but having my own kids made me a much different person.

There are now olives that are brined in a caramelized sugar solution, and they really take the edge off the taste. If you can find some, it might be more palatable to the olive hater.

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Blissful Baker
Blissful Baker February 10, 2011

On a side note, I have way too many recipes printed & bookmarked than I will ever have time to try in this lifetime, yet I print off new ones from Food52 every week. So, I was relieved to see this week's contest was all about olives -- it gives me a reprieve!

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Sadassa_Ulna
Sadassa_Ulna February 10, 2011

Another way to compromise might be to use about half the amount the recipe calls for, and puree them with a little high quality olive oil and salt before adding in. My husband thinks he hates cilantro, and I used to to omit it in recipes, but I started to realize he loved some things that clearly had cilantro in it. After that I started using it again in recipes, I just make sure to chop it finely so that he doesn't get ginormous pieces...

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Anitalectric
Anitalectric February 10, 2011

sundried tomatoes

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phyllis
phyllis February 10, 2011

Thanks to all for your great and, sometimes, amusing advice. Except for hiding vegetables in the pureed soups I cook for my 3.5 y/o grandchild, I don't like to sneak ingredients into the food I cook, especially olives, which are extraordinarily difficult to disguise. I'll try some thoroughly rinsed capers. When I cook Tagine, I add a little extra preserved lemon, but it always seems like it's missing something. Anchovies re fine. They melt in and don't have the same briny taste as olives.

I really appreciate the help!

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latoscana
latoscana February 10, 2011

Children aren't merely picky - their little taste buds are just much more sensitive. So, if a 3 y/o isn't happy with olives, try again in another year or two, and then again. I have read that some items need to be served as many as 8 times before some children will try them. I wouldn't give up. Another strategy is to enlist your grandchild in preparing the food - that makes kids much more invested in trying them.

For adults, I don't think hiding an item is a smart strategy. There could be a genuine allergy or allergic reaction. Or a personal aversion that ought to be respected. You want people who eat your food to trust you, so you need to be reliable and respectful. I have sometimes handled the personal preferences issue by making a main meal, along with a little side meal for the picky eater. In other words, the main event includes olives, but here's a serving for the person who doesn't like them.

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Blissful Baker
Blissful Baker February 10, 2011

Anitaletric's suggestion of sundried tomatoes has possibilities, since they have a strong flavor without the briny-ness. It could keep a dish that depended on olives from being too bland. Creative thinking, Anita!

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ChefDaddy
ChefDaddy February 10, 2011

I'm sure like me no one here was advising anyone to be evil. In the post there was nothing said about somebody being allergic or having an aversion to a type of food. Obviously no one would give anybody with an alergy the food that they are alergic to. Or hide meat in a dish to trick a vegan but we were just trying to find a solution to a problem and if olives are part of the flavor profile to a dish my advice was to try and keep the flavor profile the same without a picky person having a problem with that particular dish. Good luck with whatever it is that you try Phyllis!

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Sam1148
Sam1148 February 10, 2011

Sadassa, My Cilantro hating SO will now eat cilantro, after making Thai curries.

In a lot of Asian curries, they specifically call for the stems and roots only. Apparently the objectionable chemical that haters react too is more in the leaf..and the flavor is in the stem. Sounds weird, but it worked for me. We trim off the leaf and chop up the stem for garnishes, and he likes it. You may have also stumbled on the same effect by chopping very finely.

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pierino
pierino February 10, 2011

I guess you can see my inate disdain for food wimps coming out. And I apologize for that because I eat everything. I understand the cilantro thing; and that I am convinced is genetic. And for kosher consideration too, I'm not putting crab in the gumbo I'm serving to the non-meatatarians on Sunday. Another pickle question asks how to "take the bitter" out of broccoli rabe---and there is an obvious answer there. But olives and capers are healthy foods that are not going to poison anybody or violate kasruth. I just want to put the best possible food on the table even if people don't know what's in it. I'm not Taco Bell.

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phyllis
phyllis February 10, 2011

No evil. And, actually, the 3.5 y/o is NOT the problem, it's the adults. There are no allergies; no religious conflicts, it's simply dislike. Again, thanks so much for your help. Next week, I'm going to cook a tagine, with additional preserved lemons, and some capers.

All of us, except the 3.5 y/o like broccoli rabe.

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nutcakes
nutcakes February 11, 2011

I don't like olives very much, but I will eat them occasionally. I make a few dishes with them now, in some dishes they are essential, but it took years of tasting all the time in order to tolerate them at all. I will eat a few from a bowl once in a blue moon, sometimes even liking them, but usually I will leave it untouched. If someone chopped them fine or pureed them, then I couldn't avoid them and pick them out when I want to. I like capers and anchovies-- no relation, to my taste.

For adults, they can just set the olives aside. I don't see any reason to make the dish without it. You will just waste some of a fairly expensive ingredient by including it. I don't think olives add or subtract from a dish's taste. I only think they count when you actually eat them with the dish, where they can enhance it, like the Fine Cooking magazine Eggplant Gratin with Feta and Mint that I like so much with Kalamata olives. But if olives are in something, I can push them aside and I don't taste it in the rest of the dish usually.

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