Olives are great in salads, sandwiches, cocktails, and lots of amazing recipes. However, some people cannot stand their taste or smell or may be allergic to them. Does this mean that all these recipes are off the chart?
There are multiple substitutes that you can choose from when you don’t have enough olives for your favorite recipe or when you simply don’t like their taste. Read on to find out the complete list of the best olive substitutes for your recipes.
The best substitutes for olives
Table of Contents
There are many ways to serve olives in simple or more complex dishes. They can be eaten alone or used in rich recipes where you can only get a taste of their true flavor.
Olives are rich in antioxidants and oleic acid, which has several health benefits. They also represent a good source of iron, copper, calcium, and vitamin E.
There are different varieties of olives, and the main difference between them is related to the degree of ripeness. When they’re unripe, olives are green, and they turn black when they ripe. Most types of olives are cured in brine, water, or oil.
Green olives have a somehow bitter taste, but they’re used in various recipes. Spanish, French, and Italian green olives are rather buttery, and they’re often meaty with a rich taste.
Black olives are usually added to create contrast in dishes while providing a special taste and flavor. Several types have a mild flavor, and some of them, like Kalamata olives, have a fruity taste.
Olives are a recurring ingredient in the Mediterranean Diet, which is considered one of the most balanced diets in the world. They’re also a good option for people on Keto or Vegan diets as they’re rich in nutrients. They can be incorporated into multiple dishes or served on their own as an appetizer or snack.
But what if, despite all their good qualities, you still don’t like olives? What if you want to prepare a special recipe only to find out that you’ve run out of olives?
Surprisingly, there are multiple options to substitute the taste and texture of olives in various dishes. We’ll explain how to incorporate each olive replacement in your recipes and how to choose the right olive substitute for every dish.
Capers can really save the day if you’re looking for a Castelvetrano olives substitute. Capers are the young and immature flower buds from the caper bush. They grow in the same region as olives, and they’re green and round.
Capers are pickled or preserved in a salty solution, so they can be used instead of green olives in recipes where you want to enjoy their sharp flavor.
Castelvetrano olives are usually paired with different kinds of cheese in salads and charcuterie boards. Capers add the same effect, and they’re also rich in Vitamins A and E.
You can also use capers as a Picholine olives substitute in your Martini. They will bring out the strong flavors of your drink.
2. Artichoke Hearts
Artichoke hearts can easily substitute olives in any dish or recipe, as long as you add some vinegar and salt. They’re hearty, earthy, slightly bitter, with some umami flavor, so they will work for various dishes that call for green or even black olives.
You can use artichoke hearts in dips and dressings instead of Picholine or Kalamata olives. They’re also rich in nutrients such as fibers, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K, so they will increase the nutritional value of your dish.
Use artichoke hearts in recipes that ask for jumbo green olives like Gordal olives. They will add the needed meatiness and desired color to your amazing dish.
3. Pickled Peppers
In addition to the buttery rich taste, pickled peppers allow you to add a little spiciness to any dish if you’re looking for alternatives to olives.
Pickled peppers are salty, savory, and sour with an extra spicy kick to make other tastes stand out. There are also some mellow types that you can experiment with if you’re not into spicy foods.
You can use pickled peppers as a substitute for olives in salads, tapas, pizzas, and other dishes. They go well with various ingredients and will also add a pop of color to your dish.
Some types of pickled peppers retain their sweetness even when kept in brine. If this is the taste you’re looking for, you can definitely use them to replace Picholine olives. They can also be used as a substitute for black olives on cheese crackers and open sandwiches.
Mushrooms have the same buttery and rich texture as olives, but they have a mellow aroma and taste compared to the overpowering taste of olives. This is why they will work perfectly for people who don’t like the strong flavor and smell that olives add to multiple dishes.
Mushrooms can be used from fresh or even pickled to add a special twist to any dish. Pickled mushrooms add some saltiness to your pizzas, pasta, and salads.
Due to their fleshy texture, mushrooms can be used as a Gaeta olives substitute. These olives are characterized by being very fleshy and having a mild flavor. They can be added to salads, fish dishes, and pasta.
The tiniest amount of anchovies can be used to achieve the same strong effect as salty olives. A dash of anchovies can be the perfect Niçoise olives alternative. Niçoise olives are known for their salty and briny taste, thanks to the curing process, and just a dash of anchovies will make your dish tastier.
Anchovies are already the main ingredient when you’re preparing an olive tapenade, as they go well with olives. So if you don’t have enough olives for your dips and spreads, a small number of anchovies will do the trick.
Anchovies are rich in Omega fatty acids, Calcium, Potassium, and Vitamin A. However, you should be careful while adding them to your dishes because they have a very strong taste and aroma. Some people are also allergic to anchovies, so you need to keep that in mind.
6. Pickled Tomatoes
Pickled tomatoes taste and look delicious. At the same time, they can be an excellent olive substitute, thanks to their salty, savory flavor.
Unlike pickled peppers, pickled tomatoes have some umami flavor, so they will work for those who don’t like their dishes to be too spicy. They also have a sweet and rather fruity flavor, so you can use pickled tomatoes if you’re looking for a Kalamata olives substitute.
Because they’re preserved in brine, pickled tomatoes can also be used as a Niçoise olive substitute. They will add the needed saltiness to your spread, pizza, pasta, or any other cooked dish. They share the nutty and mild flavor and buttery texture of Niçoise olives, so they will work fine.
Due to their versatile flavor, you can use pickled tomatoes as a substitute for Kalamata olives in sandwiches and cheese platters. They can even be used to prepare sauces and dips for parties and gatherings because they go well with lots of other ingredients.
Pickled tomatoes can be used in place of Beldi olives, which are dry-cured in salt. They have a texture that is comparable to that of sun-dried tomatoes, so you can use pickled tomatoes if you run out of them.
7. Pickled Onions
Pickled onions can be used to substitute olives in several dishes while adding a little bit of heat. In addition to their hotness, this type of onion has a pungent flavor that can make your salads and sandwiches much more delicious.
Pickled onions are best eaten on their own, probably paired with your favorite kind of cheese. They can be incorporated into sandwiches or served with cheese instead of olives.
However, you can also use pickled onions to add a little kick to your fish dishes, chicken dishes, pasta, and even dips. Use them as a Niçoise olive substitute in salads or dressings, or salsas, or simply combine them with other ingredients to create a tasty topping for your pizza.
Onions are rich in Potassium and Vitamin C, and pickled onions are rich in vinegar which helps your digestive system stay healthy. At the same time, they can easily elevate the taste of any dish.
8. Blue Cheese
This might surprise you, but the aging process of blue cheese can bring the pungency that you expect from a good olive substitute. Blue cheese has a rich and distinctive flavor, and a small amount of it can be used to bring out the other flavors in your dishes.
The salty, earthy, slightly bitter, and meaty taste of blue cheese makes it the perfect substitute for Niçoise olives in salads and in sandwiches. Experiment with blue cheese in your appetizers, pizzas, and other dishes, by adding just a little bit and see how it goes.
Thanks to its buttery texture, blue cheese can be used in dips to create a creamy yet flavorful dip for parties and gatherings. It also pairs with various ingredients, so it might work for you if you’re looking for an unusual subsite for olives.
However, you should be careful about adding blue cheese to your dish. A big amount might alter the way your dish tastes or feels, as it is slightly overpowering. It has a low lactose content, so it might work for those who are allergic to dairy, but it’s not vegan.
How to choose an olive substitute
Choosing the right olive substitute depends on the type of olives you’re planning to replace, the recipe, and your personal preferences. Luckily, these substitutes have different flavors and textures, so you’ll definitely find one that works for every occasion.
Capers can be used to replace most types of olives. They’re also your go-to vegan option, so they will work for any recipe. At the same time, they added the needed pop of color even if you’re looking for an olives substitute for your Martini.
Artichoke hearts and mushrooms can be used if you’re looking for a substitute that has a meaty texture with a mild flavor. They can be used to replace Gaeta, Kalamata, or Picholine olives. Pickled tomatoes also work, especially in sandwiches.
To add a little twist to your dishes, you can try pickled peppers, pickled onions, anchovies, or even blue cheese. Each olive substitute will add a different taste to your dish and will bring out the flavor of your recipe in a different way.
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