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What are Castelvetrano olives and what are some substitutes?


Castelvetrano olives are a type of Italian olives that are known for their bright green color, buttery taste, and meaty texture. They are a popular ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine, especially in Italian and Sicilian recipes. These olives are often used in salads, appetizers, pasta dishes, and as a snack.

However, castelvetrano olives are not always easy to find in every grocery store, and they can be quite expensive. Therefore, it’s important to know what substitutes can be used in recipes that call for castelvetrano olives. In this article, we will explore what castelvetrano olives are, their characteristics, how to use them, and what substitutes can be used.

What are Castelvetrano Olives?

Castelvetrano olives are named after the town of Castelvetrano in Sicily, where they are traditionally grown. They are a variety of olives known as nocellara del belice, which is one of the most common olive cultivars in Italy. Castelvetrano olives are characterized by their bright green color, which is due to their harvesting method. They are hand-picked at the beginning of the harvest season when they are still unripe, resulting in their unique color.

Castelvetrano olives are also known for their buttery and mild flavor, which is slightly sweet and nutty. They have a meaty texture and a firm bite, which makes them ideal for use in recipes that require olives. Castelvetrano olives are often sold in jars or cans, either pitted or unpitted.

How to Use Castelvetrano Olives?

Castelvetrano olives can be used in a variety of recipes, both as an ingredient and as a garnish. Here are some ways to use castelvetrano olives in your cooking:

  1. Salads: Castelvetrano olives are a great addition to salads. They pair well with greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, and other vegetables. You can also add them to pasta salads or grain salads.
  2. Appetizers: Castelvetrano olives make an excellent appetizer. You can serve them on their own, stuffed with cheese, or wrapped in prosciutto.
  3. Pasta dishes: Castelvetrano olives are a great addition to pasta dishes. You can add them to spaghetti with tomato sauce, fettuccine alfredo, or penne with pesto.
  4. Pizza: Castelvetrano olives are a delicious topping for pizza. They pair well with other toppings such as mushrooms, peppers, and onions.
  5. Snacks: Castelvetrano olives make a great snack on their own. You can also pair them with cheese and crackers for a quick and easy snack.

Substitutes for Castelvetrano Olives

If you can’t find castelvetrano olives or they are too expensive, there are some substitutes you can use in your recipes. Here are some of the best substitutes for castelvetrano olives:

  1. Green Olives:

Green olives are a good substitute for castelvetrano olives. They have a similar meaty texture and mild flavor. Look for pitted green olives, either stuffed or unstuffed.

  1. Cerignola Olives:

Cerignola olives are a large Italian olive that is similar in size and texture to castelvetrano olives. They have a mild flavor and a firm texture, making them a good substitute.

  1. Kalamata Olives:

Kalamata olives are a popular Greek olive that is a good substitute for castelvetrano olives. They have a stronger flavor than castelvetrano olives, but their meaty texture makes them a good replacement. Kalamata olives are usually sold in jars or cans, either pitted or unpitted.

  1. Picholine Olives:

Picholine olives are a French olive that is similar in size and shape to castelvetrano olives. They have a mild, fruity flavor and a crunchy texture. Picholine olives are a good substitute if you’re looking for something with a similar size and shape to castelvetrano olives.

  1. Manzanilla Olives:

Manzanilla olives are a Spanish olive that is often used in salads and appetizers. They have a similar size and texture to castelvetrano olives, but their flavor is slightly more tangy. Look for pitted manzanilla olives, either stuffed or unstuffed.


Castelvetrano olives are a delicious and versatile ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine, known for their buttery flavor and meaty texture. However, if you can’t find them or they are too expensive, there are some substitutes you can use in your recipes. Green olives, cerignola olives, kalamata olives, picholine olives, and manzanilla olives are all good substitutes for castelvetrano olives. When substituting olives, it’s important to consider the flavor, texture, and size of the olives, and how they will complement the other ingredients in the recipe. With these substitutes, you can still enjoy the delicious flavors of Mediterranean cuisine without breaking the bank.

Bonus: Pasta Salad Recipe

One delicious recipe that uses a lot of Castelvetrano olives is a Mediterranean pasta salad. This recipe is perfect for a summer picnic or a quick and easy lunch. Here’s how to make it:


  • 1 pound fusilli pasta
  • 1 cup Castelvetrano olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cook the fusilli pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool the pasta down.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooled pasta, Castelvetrano olives, sun-dried tomatoes, red onion, feta cheese, and parsley.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the extra-virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper.
  4. Pour the dressing over the pasta salad and toss well to combine.
  5. Serve the Mediterranean pasta salad chilled or at room temperature.

This recipe is easy to customize to your liking. You can add more vegetables such as cucumbers or bell peppers, or swap out the feta cheese for goat cheese. The Castelvetrano olives add a delicious burst of flavor to this salad and pair perfectly with the other Mediterranean ingredients. Enjoy!

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