Spanish Olive Fillings

Who first thought of stuffing an olive we’ll never know, but one thing is sure: the tasty Spanish green olive becomes an even more addictive snack with the addition of a flavoursome filling.

Anchovies are probably one of the most popular olive fillings in Spain. Fished from the Bay of Biscay to the north of Spain, anchovies have been a vital ingredient in many dishes since Roman times. They add a depth and roundness to the flavour of cooked dishes, losing their own distinct flavour and melting into the whole. As an olive stuffing they provide a subtle complement to the olive itself, intensifying the flavour and adding their own deep savoury note.

Pimento or red pepper is another very popular filling for Spanish olives. First exported to the United States at the end of the 19th century, pimento stuffed olives have probably been on the tapas menu since tapas began. The sweetness of the pepper contrasts beautifully with the salty olive, making it the perfect choice for those who prefer less of a kick than the anchovies provide. The pimento filled Manzanilla olive is the ideal olive to use in Martinis too, either one olive loose in the glass, or three skewered on a cocktail stick.

There are many other fillings, and combinations thereof, that taste great in stuffed olives, both traditional ones that derive from the flavours of Spain and modern variations that are creative rather than traditional.

Garlic is a great addition to a Spanish olive, as long as you love garlic. These stuffed olives work great on pizzas and even in Martinis if you love that extra kick.

Almonds are another very Spanish addition to an olive; here the main attraction is a contrast in texture with the mild almond just adding a hint of nuttiness to the olive. They are delicious just as a snack or to make a contrast with stronger filled olives in a tapas selection.

And then you can get creative with cheese filled olives of all descriptions, jalapeno stuffed olives for a little spice or hot peppers to wake up your tastebuds, lemon stuffed olives for citrus freshness, or even mushroom or salmon fillings.

Assemble a selection of these delicious stuffed olives for a wonderful tapas selection, to go with cocktails or as part of an appetiser alongside some sliced meats or cheese.