What’s your favorite olive? If you answered black, green or “the one in my martini,” then you need to do some more exploratory eating. A great place to begin is Spain, which grows nearly 300 different types of olives. Not all are imported to the U.S. or even eaten as table olives (some are just used for oil). But the wide variety means that there is an olive out there for almost everyone. To get started, Annie Sibonney of The Cooking Channel’s From Spain with Love shares four of her favorite Spanish olives along with the best ways to eat them.
Medium-sized with a good flesh-to-pit ratio, manzanilla olives represent what most people think of as Spanish olives—so much so that another name for them is Spanish olive. “They’re tangy and nutty,” Sibonney says. “With a smooth texture.” She likes to marinate them in olive oil and fresh herbs and serve them as a pre-dinner snack.
Large and robust, these are the ideal olives for stuffing. “A good stuffed olive is one of those perfect bites,” Sibonney says. Simply split the olive lengthwise, remove the pit and stuff it. Sibonney likes hers stuffed with roasted piquillo pepper and a whole Marcona almond, then topped with crumbled blue cheese. Get the recipe for Sibonney’s stuffed olives here.