Green Olives Salad (Yeşil Zeytin Salatası)

One of the indispensible food items for breakfast in Turkey is olives. Whether green or black, plain or with sauce, olives must exist on every Turkish person’s breakfast table. In order to break away the bitterness, green olives are cracked but still served as a whole with the pit. In smaller towns, families purchase large quantities of fresh olives once a year which they crack and cure for the year’s supply. Black olives are not pitted or cracked and cured in such away that there is no trace of the bitterness.

I personally find much more flavor in cracked green olives that are not commercially pitted. If using for salad, I usually pit them myself. Pitted olives rarely enter my house as I think that most of the flavor is diminished when the pit is removed commercially. We purchase some very good quality olives here in the States that are not cracked (can’t find cracked ones) and not pitted and I find them a little bitter. Therefore each time I visit Turkey, I bring cracked green olives with me. The following olive salad is made with olives I brought with me during my recent visit to my hometown in Turkey. Our favorite time to eat olives is breakfast/brunch, but olive salad can be eaten as appetizer or side dish during lunch or dinner. Preferably use fresh thyme for this salad. I did not have any fresh thyme on hand so I used home dried thyme that my mother brought with her last year during her visit.

2 cups green olives (pitted)
1 ½ tbsp pomegranate molasses or lemon juice
½ tbsp red pepper paste
1 tbsp olive oil
1 ½ tbsp thyme leaves (fresh preferable)

Wash and drain olives. Add pomegranate molasses, red pepper paste and olive oil. If using dried thyme, crumble with hands over olives. If using fresh thyme add whole leaves. Toss together and serve.

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