Castagna’s Marinated Olives

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen

By Paula Wolfert

Published 2003

  • About

Chef Kevin Gibson, at the Restaurant Castagna in Portland, Oregon, is working with Mediterranean recipes in wondrous and creative ways, as in this delicious and interesting mixed olive marinade.

It’s difficult to obtain perfect culinary pitch when marinating mixed olives. Kevin’s recipe is as good as any I’ve encountered. He mixes earthy French picholines and crunchy Spanish manzanillas in a toasted, spiced, and “seedy” dressing that reflects Mediterranean seasoning at its best.


  • cups manzanilla olives
  • cups picholine olives
  • ¾ teaspoon coriander seed
  • ¾ teaspoon cumin seed
  • ¾ teaspoon fennel seed, plus ½ teaspoon whole toasted fennel seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¾ teaspoon crushed hot red pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • Zest of ½ orange
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • Extra virgin olive oil


  1. If the olives have been packed in brine, drain, rinse, and drain well. Taste for salt; if necessary, soak in fresh water for 10 minutes and drain. Roll dry in paper towels.
  2. Lightly toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a dry skillet. Combine in a blender with the ¼ teaspoon fennel seed and 1 of the bay leaves and grind to a powder.
  3. Mix together the hot red pepper, black pepper, thyme, orange, and lemon. Add the olives and stir with a fork to mix. Scrape into a washed and dried clean -quart glass container. Pour in enough olive oil to cover. Let stand for 1 week in a cool place before serving. If desired, garnish with an additional pinch of hot pepper when serving.