Nancy Silverton's Marinated Olives and Fresh Pecorino

December  1, 2016
4 Ratings
Photo by Food52
  • Makes about 1 quart
Author Notes

This dish of olives, marinated along with cubes of fresh pecorino cheese, allows you to add another element to your entertaining spread with minimal effort. I’ve had marinated olives many times, but the addition of cheese is a relatively new discovery. After seeing it for the first time in a Spanish restaurant, I knew I had to find a way to bring it into my repertoire. We serve this at Chi Spacca, the meat-centric restaurant in the Mozza group, to go with the cured meats.
I selected the olives that I suggest in this recipe for their variety of sizes, shapes, and colors, from tiny black Niçoise to big green Castelvetrano. Use whatever you want and whatever you can find. I’m all for driving around to three stores in three separate neighborhoods (or towns, if I’m in Italy) if that’s to make a dish that I’m determined to make, but this is one that you should be able to knock out at one store. Fresh pecorino, also called cacio di Roma, is a young sheep’s milk cheese from Rome. It’s soft, like the texture of Jack cheese. It has a mild flavor, not to be confused with that of pecorino Romano, which is a very pungent, hard, grating cheese, and not what you want here. If you can’t find fresh pecorino, use fresh provolone or quality Jack cheese.
You can serve these olives on a buffet table along with the main meal, or as a starter to almost any meal.

Excerpted from MOZZA AT HOME by Nancy Silverton with Carolyn Carreño. Copyright © 2016 by Random House. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. —Food52

What You'll Need
  • 1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup medium or large garlic cloves (about 30), peeled
  • 4 cups mixed olives with pits (such as 1 cup each: Lucques, Castelvetrano, Niçoise, and Picholine), drained
  • 4 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 3 árbol chile pods
  • 4 bay leaves (preferably fresh)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh coarsely ground black pepper
  • 6 1/2 ounces fresh pecorino 
(also called cacio di Roma; 
or another young mild white cheese, such as provolone), cut into 1/3- to 1/2-inch cubes (about 1 cup)
  • Fresh oregano leaves for garnish
  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat until it slides easily in the pan and the oil around the edges of the pan begins to smoke, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic cloves, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring often, until the garlic cloves are deep golden brown and tender but not mushy when pierced with a small knife. Turn off the heat.
  2. Combine the olives, rosemary, chile pods, bay leaves, and pepper in a large bowl and toss gently to combine. Add the garlic and its oil to the bowl with the olives and gently stir to coat the olives with the oil and combine the ingredients, being careful not to smash the garlic. You can make the olives to this point up to 2 weeks in advance. Refrigerate the olives in a covered container and bring them to room temperature before serving. Add the pecorino cubes and gently toss them into the mix just before serving. Transfer the olives to a small deep bowl and scatter the oregano leaves over the top. Serve the olives and cheese with a tiny fork for guests to grab the cheese cubes and a tiny bowl on the side for guests to put the pits in.

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4 Reviews

A G. December 9, 2022
This recipe is so simple but so impressive. I leave out the cheese and oregano and make these to serve as an appetizer at a party or to give as a thoughtful homemade gift around the holidays. It’s always fun finding a mix of olives in various sizes and colors for the best visual effect but if your olive options are limited, it would be great with even just some jarred supermarket castelvetrano olives with pits intact. Highly recommend this recipe
A G. December 11, 2022
Forgot to mention that I add orange and lemon peels since these are added to the marinated olives at Mozza and they really make these wonderful and bright tasting.
JP December 16, 2023
I was gifted these olives with these modifications! All I can say is WOW!! So satisfying and absolutely delicious!!
JP December 16, 2023
The orange peels and lemon peels add such a nice bright aroma and taste! HIGHLY recommend!!