Fall is olive season here in Puglia. Wherever you go, as far as the eye can see, vast expanses of olive groves surround you. At this time of year, the trees are heavily laden with their valuable and tasty fruit, the mighty olive, source of both health and wealth. Besides being delicious both whole and in the form of oil, the olive is chockfull of vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids, and has historically been the main crop driving the local economy.
The first olive to mature each autumn is the Nolca, one of the few types of olive that can be eaten straight off the tree, without the various treatments necessary to make most olives edible. The Nolca contains less oleuropein, a powerful antioxidant chemical which give other olives their bitter taste. Science aside, all you really need to know is that they are delicious and are available right now!
The Nolca olive can be simply washed and eaten raw, ideally accompanied by freshly baked bread to help neutralize the slightly bitter aftertaste typical to all olives, but barely perceptible in this variety. However, the ideal way to prepare these taste treats is to fry them. No real recipe is necessary for this simple dish, just a few simple instructions.
Fried Nolca Olives
Nolca (or other sweet black olives) – Extra-virgin Olive Oil - Garlic – Chili Pepper - Salt
Pour a small quantity of extra-virgin olive oil into a frying pan and begin to sauté 1 whole clove of garlic and 1 small chili pepper. Quickly add the washed and thoroughly dried olives. Salt well and stir often. The olives are ready when they begin to soften.
Coming soon: An article dedicated to the olive harvesting and extra-virgin oil production process!