There was a time when olives and olive oil got a bad rap for the amount of fat they contained. It got to the point where olive lovers (myself included) felt guilty about eating them.
But in recent years, research studies have shown that the high monounsaturated fat content of olives (and olive oil) has been associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and a decrease in blood pressure. And in terms of their phytonutrient content, olives are nothing short of astounding. Few high-fat foods offer such a diverse range of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients, some of which are unique to olives themselves.
Of course, when I was growing up, there were only two kinds of olives at the grocery store: green olives stuffed with pimentos and pitted black or “ripe” olives that you could wear on the tips of your fingers until your Mom made you stop playing with your food. And a lot of people never even heard of using olive oil in their cooking.
Times have changed. Now most grocery stores have entire olive bars, with all kinds of exotic varietals — everything from the tiny brown Nicoise to the giant, bright-green Cerignola, to the shriveled black Morrocans. And olive oil has been proven to be one of the healthiest oils you can choose.
Here’s a recipe for Pork and Mushroom Sliders from the International Olive Council that contains both olives and olive oil and is sure to be a hit with anyone who loves them.
Pork and Mushroom Sliders
¼ cup sour cream
2 tablespoons coarse ground mustard
1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, divided and minced
1½ teaspoons dried thyme leaves
4 cups finely chopped shiitake mushrooms
½ cup chopped ripe olives
¼ cup finely chopped shallots
12 small rolls, split (warmed, if desired)
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Blend sour cream and mustard in small bowl; cover and refrigerate. Combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 clove garlic and 1 teaspoon thyme leaves in mini chopper or finely chop garlic and blend mixture in bowl with fork, mashing garlic. Rub pork with garlic mixture; place in shallow baking pan and roast 25 minutes or until internal temperature is 160 degrees. Remove from oven; let stand at least 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 clove garlic; cook and stir 30 seconds or until fragrant but not browned. Add mushrooms, olives, shallots and remaining ½ teaspoon thyme leaves. Cook and stir 5 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Remove from heat; set aside.
Thinly slice tenderloin diagonally across grain. Spread each cut side of rolls with mustard mixture. Spoon half of mushroom mixture (about 2 tablespoons) on bottom of each roll. Top rolls evenly with sliced pork and remaining mushroom mixture. Cover with top halves of rolls. Serve on coated sandwich wraps or bakery sheets if desired.
Yield: 12 sandwiches.
Tip: Meat can be roasted several hours in advance, then refrigerated and sliced before assembling sandwiches.