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Rustic Kalamata Olives & Red Onion Salsa

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rustic kalamata tapenade on toast points

rustic kalamata salsa on toast points

Olives in the raw are bitter, mostly inedible and not much to look at.  But cured olives are savory, rich tasting and full of color.  I remember growing up in Peru, my grandfather Pepe a man of the land and an amazing cook, would bring home sacks of dry black olives that he would cure and integrate into different dishes. A black olive and onion salsa was one of his recipes and a home staple that we served with bread, over rice and even pasta. The transformation of the olives from sack to table and accompanied by raw onions into a loud burst of flavor is a distinct culinary memory from my childhood.  The spanish name for this dish is salsa de aceitunas negras y cebolla.  Pepe came from Mediterranean ancestry that was then mixed with the Peruvian culture as a result of colonialism in Latin America.  He was a Criollo in every sense of the word.  Strong temperament, gentle soul and with a rocking hand in the kitchen.  This salsa is a fusion of Mediterranean and Peruvian, just like my Pepe.

rustic tapenade close upI added capers to my version of this dish and I think Pepe would have approved. Keep in mind that this salsa is not for the weak at palate.  The taste is savory, confrontational and somewhat spicy.  Delicious with a Tempranillo wine.  The flavors of the salsa and the wine will fight it out but the complexity of the former will conquer.  Complex flavors will bombard you at every bite.  Keep in mind that the longer you marinade the onions the milder they become but then the taste of the olives is more pronounced.  All good things.

cut red onion

kalamata olivesI could smell the onions, olives and capers on my hands until the next day.  Love it.

ingredient for rustic kalamataServe this salsa on toast points and drizzle with olive oil, or add it on top of brown rice or quinoa to liven things up.

rustic tapenade in dish

rustic tapenadeReady to salsa!


Rustic Kalamata & Red Onion Salsa
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
For this salsa I used kalamata olives from a jar rather than olives from the antipasto bar at the supermarket. The reason is that I can better control the salt content from the ones in the jar. If you like very salty then go with the kalamata olives cured in the store and just watch the salt that you add to the salsa at the end. I would also suggest that you not use canned olives if possible since their taste is weaker than both market cured olives and jarred olives.
  • 1 large red onion (coarsely chopped)
  • 9 ounces black pitted kalamata olives (coarsely chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons capers
  • ⅓ cup virgin olive oil
  • ⅛ cup plus one tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
  1. In a medium bowl combine onion, kalamata olives and capers
  2. Add olive oil and apple cider vinegar and combine
  3. Add dried oregano and combine well
  4. Let sit for 5 minutes and combine again
  5. Let sit another 5 minutes and combine
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste
  7. Cover in airtight container and refrigerate for at least an hour
  8. Toss before serving
  9. Spoon on toast points, drizzle with olive oil and garnish with basil (optional) or eat on anything




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2 Responses

  1. Sounds like a really tasty combo! I’m a sucker for kalamata olives :)

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