Salsa De Monja, Aka Ajete, Aka Aceitunas Aliñadas

"Filipino/Spanish olive relish, modified from tita Dolly's estimates. Recipe multiplies well. (rev July 30, 2016) These are my proportions -- tita Dolly's instructions are always "just keep adding until it tastes right.""
photo by cowpants13 photo by cowpants13
photo by cowpants13
Ready In:
3 pints


  • 1 -2 large lemon (more to taste)
  • 3 cups olives, drained (assorted)
  • 2 cups cocktail onions, drained (small ones)
  • 3 heads garlic (some smashed, some minced)
  • 1 12 cups olive oil (more as needed)
  • 1 cup plain breadcrumbs (more as needed)
  • 3 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika (pimenton dulce)
  • 12 teaspoon kosher salt (more to taste)
  • 12 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (more to taste)


  • Prepare jars. Use three 1-pint jars or combination. Sterilize jars: In a large pot with a rack on the bottom, place clean jars right side up. Fill with water to cover jars by 1 inch. (If hard water, add a splash of vinegar so jars don't dry spotty.) Bring to the boil, then boil for 10 minutes and turn off. Put clean lids in the pot to get warm. Leave jars and lids in hot water until needed. (Tita Dolly starts with the jars from the olives and cocktail onions, then adds jars as needed.).
  • Wash the lemons well. Thinly slice lemons and pick out the seeds. Place them in a large pot, squeezing with your hands. (You may want to put half the lemon first and reserve the rest to adjust flavor as you go.).
  • (Tita Dolly rinses the olives and cocktail onions. I don't -- I like the extra tanginess.) Add the remaining ingredients and bring gently to a simmer, stirring to mix well. Texture should be thick but not pasty; color should be bright orangey but not brown; flavor should be complex so you can taste all the elements, and not overly lemony. Adjust seasoning and add bread crumbs or olive oil as needed. Once mixture is hot, turn off the heat.
  • Place a kitchen towel on the counter. Remove jars from hot water, drain, and place on towel, right side up. Carefully fill with mixture, leaving about 1/2 inch at the top; gently tap each bottle on the counter, and stir with a chopstick to remove any air bubbles. Top each jar with remaining liquid from mixture, leaving 1/4 inch at the top; if there's not enough liquid, top with more olive oil.
  • Wipe jar tops clean. Place lids on jars, and tighten. (If using canning lids, place lids and hand-tighten rings.) Turn jars upside down and allow to cool. Keep refrigerated.
  • NOTES * Use any combination of olives you like. Be warned -- some stuffed olives may lose their stuffing. * 1 jar of Mezzetta manzanilla olives stuffed with pimentos is ~1 cup. 1 tiny jar of cocktail onions is ~1/2 cup. * Tita Dolly uses about equal proportions of olives and cocktail onions. * For the garlic, smash well, then remove peels. * Tita Dolly uses whatever paprika she has handy; I like pimenton dulce. * Taste the mixture -- if you like, add more lemon juice. * You will be tasting the olive oil, so use one with good flavor. Don't use a light or very mild oil. * I've estimated a serving to be about 1/4 cup, so each pint (500 ml) is 8 servings. *.

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