Olives from Spain – Christmas Marinades

Marinades for Christmas with Olives from Spain:

A fabulous hamper of goodies arrived from the lovely people at Olives from Spain the other day.  Now, you may remember, I’ve already tried a few of their recipes for marinaded olives and to be honest I would happily have carried on working my way through the selection created for them by Omar Allibhoy.  But, the challenge was to create my own marinades.  And the hamper had all sorts of intriguing ingredients – from cloves and star anise to a bottle of Cava (I don’t think they REALLY believed I’d put that in the marinade…)

both olives from spain

Anyway, I’ve really enjoyed making Omar’s recipes and I am always up for a challenge.  So, first my very Christmassy Chocolate Orange Olives, made with Mexican smoked chilli, 100% cocoa and a little orange zest.  I HAVE tried black olive truffles – made by Omar and also at Simon Fernandez’s supper club Ferdie’s Food Lab.  And they worked, so why shouldn’t these?  I have to admit, I was just a little nervous about adding in the chocolate and I divided the olive mix in half to see if it really worked.

It did.

A bit like Mexican Mole, this marinade is smokey, deep and robust.  I’d eat the olives with cheese after a meal rather than as an apperitif.

Mexican Olives from Spain

Serves 4-6
Prep time 10 minutes
Dietary Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Appetizer
Misc Gourmet, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold


  • 300g Black Spanish Olives
  • Zest Orange
  • 1 clove Garlic
  • 1 handful Fresh Thyme
  • 2 tablespoons Spanish Olive Oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Pure cocoa powder (I used rococo)
  • 1 teaspoon Sherry Vinegar
  • 1 Smoked Mexican Chilli (Pick the variety according to your taste in 'heat'. I used a chipotle this time (medium hot))


Step 1 Peel and slice the garlic into thin pieces
Step 2 Crumble the chilli into a bowl , add the garlic and cocoa powder and pour over the olive oil and sherry vinegar
Step 3 Cut the orange zest into fine strips and add to the mixture
Step 4 Pull the leaves off the thyme and rub them between the palms of your hands to release the oils before adding to the mixture
Step 5 Add all the olives and stir well. Allow to marinade for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. Serve at room temperature with a few sprigs of fresh thyme for decoration.

For my second recipe I thought it might be a good idea to chose something a little lighter.  I love the combination of sage and lemon and so a sage and lemon marinade seemed like a perfect idea.  But, when I’d finished, the result was just a little sharp.  I have some wonderful fennel pollen that was sent to me by Global Harvest to experiment with and I added just a pinch…a lovely sweet, aniseed taste that perfectly complimented the existing marinade and finished the dish.

Lemon, Sage and Fennel Pollen Olives

Serves 6-8
Prep time 10 minutes
Dietary Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Appetizer
Misc Pre-preparable, Serve Cold


  • 300g Green Spanish Olives
  • 4 or 5 leaves Sage
  • 1 clove Garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Spanish Olive Oil
  • 1 Lemon (zest cut into fine strips and the lemon juiced)
  • 1 pinch Fennel Pollen (substitute fennel seeds, crushed in a pestle and mortar if necessary)


Step 1 Peel the garlic and slice finely
Step 2 Mix together the oil, lemon juice, garlic and lemon zest
Step 3 Rub the sage leaves between the palms of your hand before tearing into the marinade
Step 4 Add the olives and mix well. Allow to marinade for at least 2 hours
Step 5 Serve at room temperature with the fennel pollen sprinkled over. If you are substituting fennel seeds these should be added to the marinade at the start.

I’ve loved this particular challenge.  It’s probably because there isn’t any real cooking, but the end result is interesting, unique and something I think I could and would do again.  Of my two recipes, I really do like the black olives with chocolate and orange.  I was suprised it worked and I am not sure, if I served them to other people, that I’d ever admit the ingredients until they had been tasted because it just sounds a little implausible.

Many thanks to Olives from Spain for inviting me to take part and for sending me a great selection of ingredients to use.

both olives


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  1. says

    Oh I just love your marinade using Rococo cocoa. Such a clever idea and one I know I would enjoy. The smoked Mexican chilli sounds good, chipotle is such an interesting intense flavour.
    Thanks for passing on my details and this challenge has been great. There are so many more olive fans around than I ever realised!

    • says

      I was pretty amazed that the first one worked so well, but it did! I think the idea is that you can buy plain canned olives and then create your own marinades at a fraction of the cost of the shop bought ones. Plus, you get to chose the flavours that work!

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