11 February 2017

Simple Spaghetti with Olives


In November I travelled to Provence in Southern France to tour olive groves and visit olive oil producers (I know, how lucky am I?). Before my trip I was totally oblivious to French olives. I always assumed olives came from some of the hotter parts of Europe. Spain, Italy and Greece to name a few. 

French olives? Really?

Olivence is a co-operative of five of the best PDO producers of olive oil and olives in the region of Provence. These craft producers supply some of the finest olives and olive oils, some of which are still harvested by hand.
Simple Spaghetti with Olives plus a guide to buying and storing olive oil as well as a look at how olive oil is made in Provence, France. www.tinnedtomatoes.com





The thing that struck me about each of the producers was the love and care they put into their products and I have to say they were the finest olives I've ever tried. I was impressed they leave them on the tree to ripen properly before picking them (much of the produce that reaches the supermarket shelves these days is picked way too soon, before ripe and the flavour just isn't there).

Leaving the olives to ripen on the vine often produces a soft wrinkly and slightly salty olive. Boy they're divine and the oil tastes wonderful too.




Here are a few photos from my trip. I hope you enjoy them.



Picking Olives



These olives are picked by hand. They have rakes that vibrate to shake the olives from the tree into nets. The olives are teased into the centre of the nets and a big vacuum cleaner type machine sooks up the olives.


Making Olive Oil



Once they've transported the olives back to their premises, they sort through them to remove all the foliage and select the best olives. The olives used to be pressed by hand in a giant press which would crush the olives between mats to extract the oil, but now it is done by machine. First they're washed, then they're crushed and the end product is a fabulous clear oil.




Once the olives are pressed, the oil is bottled. Most of the olives from the Olivence group are destined for oil, but a small percentage are set aside as table olives, They are the very best you can try. If you get hold of some I urge you to do so.



The Best Way to Buy Olive Oil


One of the things I learned about olive oil is that you should buy the best you can and buy small. Once it's opened you should store it somewhere dark and use it as quickly as you can, so forget those large bottles as the quality will drop the longer you have it,

If you can buy it in small cans or dark glass bottles, even better, this will help protect it from light. I keep mine in a ceramic wine cooler, on my counter top, it keeps the light from the bottle.




I've been enjoying the olives and oil since I came back and now I'm back on my feet (I've had an injured knee, don't ask!) and back in the kitchen again, I thought I'd share one of my favourite and easiest of meals.

A very simple spaghetti dish that really brings out the flavour of the olives and the oil. It's the sort of dish I love to have when I'm home alone or if I've had too many heavy dishes. It's quick to make and rather fabulous.


Lunch


I made it for Graham's lunch today. He shot out the door on his way to work without breakfast today and I knew he wouldn't have eaten anything before heading home at 2pm. I despair sometimes.

Needless to say he enjoyed his lunch. I made a bit too much so I had to help eat it, ahem! Cooper has been poorly so just some plain toast for him, poor wee boy!






print recipe

Simple Spaghetti with Olives
A simple spaghetti dish for one. Simple but full of flavour and easy to double up for two. Try it next time you want to eat something quick and easy that's really comforting!
Ingredients
  • 75g spaghetti
  • 1 tbsp good quality olive oil
  • a handful of good quality olives (stones removed), chopped in half
  • a handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • a sprinkle of chilli flakes
  • a good grinding of black pepper
  • a generous sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan (veggie or vegan)
Instructions
1. Cook the spaghetti according to the instructions until al dente.2. Drain the pasta well, then toss in the olive oil and season with black pepper and chilli flakes.3. Toss in the olives.4. Serve topped with parmesan.5. Enjoy!
Details
Total time:

Yield: Serves 1 generously



Follow Olivence on Facebook and Twitter and follow the conversation with  #huileolive #olivence #huilesetolives




If you love simple spaghetti dishes, try my Spaghetti with Mushrooms and Artichoke recipe.




Disclosure: Olivence invited me to Provence to visit their olive groves and producers. They didn't expect a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.

30 comments:

  1. That must have been so much fun, to see how the olives are processed. I had no idea olives can be produced in France too, very interesting.

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    1. It was, it was really interesting and good to see they were very much a part of the community. The olives and oil is gorgeous.

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  2. Growing up in Sicily I know very well good olive oil, and I absolutely love all the insights you share, not to mention that tasty pasta dish!

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  3. Simple recipe but always delicious!!
    Thanks for sharing.
    Love

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    1. Thanks. Yes simple is sometimes the best way to go. It lets the flavours sing.

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  4. I didn't know that olives grew in France but I suppose it makes sense really. The dish looks lovely. So Simple and comforting

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    1. I know, I didn't either, but I was very impressed.

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  5. That;s a great run down on the production of olives and olive oil. And what a great recipe to showcase the star ingredient too.

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  6. It's a tough job .... but someone has to do it .... lucky you :-)

    I love olive oil, but cannot stand to eat olives ...weird eh!!

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    1. Haha yes, I was really pleased to be invited along. I am not offered many trips. I was the same as you. I've only started to like olives in the last year. The trick is getting good ones, I now realise.

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  7. It was such a lovely trip wasn't it! Love your simple recipe - bet it really lets that gorgeous oil shine.

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    1. Yes it was really interesting and so nice to spend time with you too.

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  8. Now this is my kind of meal! Simple and easy to prepare, yet bursting with flavour because of the quality ingredients. Gorgeous!

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  9. That might be simple to you but it was an amazing recipe. Great use of olive oil as well.

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    1. Thanks Michelle, what a kind thing to say.

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  10. High quality olive oil is soooo worth the extra price - quality definitely matters! Love the behind the scenes look and all the tips as well!

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    1. Yes definitely. So glad you enjoyed the post.

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  11. I didn't realize French olives were a thing! How cool to see! I love all olives except for the bleached and dyed black olive (ick)-- this looks so delicious!

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    1. I know it was new to me too. They are such good olives, but most of them go to making oil. It's great that they leave them on the vines to ripen properly.

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  12. This is so interesting -- what a truly beautiful process, from picking the olives to the oil. Lovely! And delicious sounding spaghetti also.

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    1. Yes so traditional. At one of the olive oil producers they had an area outside where locals could drop their olives from their own groves to be made into oil A real community affair.

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  13. I can never get sick of olives- this simple recipe sounds amazing!

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  14. That pasta looks amazing! Great lesson on olives! Very interesting!

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  15. What a lovely and informative post. I love all the olive facts, good job I store my olive oil in a dark place, didn't even know this was best!

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    1. Yes you are spot on and doing the right thing. Glad you enjoyed the post.

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