An Italian olive spread, which is generally a simple combination of pureed Italian black olives, olive oil and black pepper. Serve it with crusty sourdough bread, or add to an omelette or scrambled eggs, or add to mashed potatoes.
3/4 lb. pitted black or green olives or a mixture: Manzanilla, Picholine, Nicoise, or other
1/4 to 1/3 cup, plus more for topping
freshly ground pepper to taste
1-2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced (optional)
Combine the olives and olive oil in a food processor or blender. Start with 1/4 cup of the oil and add more as needed to make a thick, slightly chunky paste (don't let it become too smooth). Place the paste into a jar or crock and stir in the pepper to taste.
Cover the puree with a thin layer of olive oil, then cover the container tightly and refrigerate it. It will keep for months. Let the olivata come to room temperature before serving it.
Add herbs to taste:
1/2 to 1 teaspoons crumbled dried oregano or thyme
pinch or two of crumbled dried rosemary (or twice as much minced fresh rosemary)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves