A little while ago I accidentally discovered a cooking techniques which I have been using in every dinner I have made since then. I bought some Sicilian green olives at a local grocery but found that they were too sour for me to really enjoy them raw. That evening I was cooking a tomato sauce with sausage and I thought, Why don't I toss some of these olives into the pan while I'm cooking the sausage -- I have no idea what made me think to do that but boy am I glad I did! After cooking for a bit, the sourness of the olives really subsided and was replaces by a sort of lemony sweetness that rocks my world!
So far I have tried this in three sauces, two tomato-based and one not, and each time the olives have given the sauce an extraordinary depth of flavor. (Especially, I would say, in the non-tomato sauce, where the olives were more separate from the rest of the sauce around them.) Anyways, my question is, is this a common practice in Italian cooking? I know there are sauteed capers in marinara (or one of those sauces; I get the names mixed up), which I guess is a kind of similar flavor. I've never noticed green olives in my pasta sauce at Italian restaurants, but I could have just not been paying sufficient attention.