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All We Can Eat
Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 07/06/2011

Chat Leftovers: Olive brine

If you can’t stand the heat, don’t get out of the kitchen: Make no-cook meals. That’s the oh-so-timely theme of today’s Food section. Joe Yonan’s Cooking for One column features soups and smoothies; Tony Rosenfeld gives us dinner-worthy sandwiches; and Jason Wilson offers cooling punches. Also this week, Tim Carman writes about the upcoming Fancy Food Show, being held in Washington this year and next, and what it means to small food producers trying to gain a better foothold in the retail market. But we don’t tell you how to get tickets to the show, because you can’t go. Bonnie Benwick explains why in a companion blog post.

Questions? Comments? Good — we’ll see you at noon, then, for today’s Free Range chat. Two things to remember: First, if you can’t be there at noon, you can always go to the site early, post your question, then check the transcript later to see if we answered it. And second, if we didn’t answer it, there’s a chance it will appear in this space next week. Like this question from a previous chat:

I have about a cup of olive brine left over from some high-class Whole Foods olives; I think they were black Cerignolas. Any suggestions for using it, besides the obvious dirty martini? I wonder if it would be good as some of the liquid for quinoa, for example, or maybe in a soup or stew. It’s salty, but not overly so.

While perhaps not as useful (or as trendy) as pickle juice, olive brine does have some culinary applications. The ones I’m most familiar with are as additions to tomato-based pasta sauces, notably puttanesca and marinara. The brine adds a nice olive-y undertone, but you have to keep sodium levels in mind and cut back on (or even eliminate) the salt you’d normally add to the recipe.

I love the taste of a little olive liquid in egg salad. Haven’t tried these, but I imagine it would also be good in potato salad, chicken salad, tuna salad, maybe even some types of pasta salad.

Another possibility: Add a little of the brine when you’re getting ready to scramble eggs or make an omelet.

Last night, while I was pondering this question and fixing dinner at the same time, I decided to put Kalamata olive juice in the vinaigrette for some salad greens, subbing it for some of the vinegar. Tasted great! This particular brine also included vinegar, so maybe that’s why it was such a success.

I’ve never tried using olive brine as some of the liquid for quinoa, which you asked about, or farro, or rice, or pasta. But what the heck, I think you should go for it, as long as the final dish you’re making has olive-compatible ingredients. Soups or stews, you ask? Again, I think it’s definitely worth a try, keeping an eye on the salt levels and assuming the olive flavor will complement the other ingredients in the dish.

And finally: It’s a brine, so why not try brining with it? As in, pieces of chicken or fish. I don’t know whether it would be a good idea to use 100 percent olive brine or whether diluting it would be the best way to start out. But if you’re the kind who likes to play around in the kitchen and doesn’t mind the occasional flop, this seems like a worthy experiment. In fact, I’m going to try it myself.

By Jane Touzalin  |  10:00 AM ET, 07/06/2011

Categories:  Chat Leftovers

 
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