Kalamatas are Greek olives named for their geographic region of production; they're great for both eating and cooking. Medium-size with thick flesh, Kalamatas have a wonderfully intense but not overly strong flavor. Picked ripe, Kalamatas are slit, brine-cured, and then packed in vinegar. Easy to pit, they're delicious in Greek salads with feta cheese, fresh tomatoes, and cucumbers.
At the market, Kalamatas should be unbruised, clean, and plump, with smooth, shiny skins and moist interiors. Kalamatas are often sold already pitted, making them convenient for using in recipes.
Be sure to let olives come to room temperature before serving. Drain brined-packed olives before serving. The simplest way to pit Kalamata olives is to whack them with the flat side of a knife, splitting the olive and exposing the pit.
Always keep olives moist, either in brine or sprinkled with olive oil and stored in the refrigerator.