Spanish Manchego Cheese Marinated with Olives and Herbs

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen

By Paula Wolfert

Published 2003

  • About

We’re used to pairing cheese and wine, but in the same vein, I've found that particular cheeses have an affinity for particular olives. For example, moist slices of fresh mozzarella are delicious served with Italian gaeta olives; Gorgonzola goes well with large, apple-green cerig-nola olives from Apulia; sheep's milk cheeses, such as kasseri or feta, are excellent with cracked green Greek olives, especially if the cheeses are sprinkled with a little crushed orégano.

At the other end of the Mediterranean, Spanish cabarales blue cheese is a match for manzanilla olives, while Spanish manchego cheese, marinated in olive oil with herbs and seasonings as presented here, goes perfectly with small juicy arbequina or niçoise olives. I think a dense cheese like manchego is so much better when marinated; it doesn't dry out. Manchego is easily infused by oil and herbs in about a week.

I serve slices of this marinated manchego with toothpicks, but you can also set them on grilled bread alongside an arugula salad, or with grilled mushrooms and a bitter green salad garnished with some toasted walnuts. Any olive oil left over from the marinade is absolutely delicious for dressing salads or stirred into a bean soup just before serving.


  • 1 pound manchego cheese
  • 5 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 sprig or rosemary
  • teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 12 arbequina olives, rinsed and completely dried
  • Extra virgin olive oil


  1. Remove the rind and cut the cheese into ¼-inch-thick slices. Spread the thyme, rosemary, and cumin seeds over the bottom of a wide-mouth jar. Arrange the cheese slices on top of the aromatics. Put the olives on top of the cheese. Cover with olive oil and seal the lid.
  2. Store in a cool place for at least 1 week before serving. Refrigerate after opening. Return to room temperature before removing the slices.

With thanks to Steve Winston of The Spanish Table for sharing this recipe.