Olives: No Longer Just “Garnish”

June 21, 2012

Please note: Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher food writer. The Orthodox Union makes no endorsements or representations regarding kashrut certification of various products/vendors referred to in her articles, blog or web site.

Every parent who has ever sent a child to summer camp knows about Color War. That fight-to-the-death Olympic-like couple of days where what color/team you’re a part of defines, empowers and generally consumes every waking moment of your child’s life. In our house color wars revolves around olives: team green and team black.

Yes, we’re a house divided, and while I’m the captain of team black and my husband is the captain of team green, our ambivalent side-shifting children could care less. They just want olives.

Just so we’re clear, olives all come from the same tree. The only difference between them is their state ripeness when picked (green ones are harvested when they are immature, a bit denser and a tad more bitter and black ones stay on the tree just a little longer and have a more mellow flavor). All olives must be cured before being eaten and they way they are cured will determine their final flavor and texture.

Olives are one food you can keep on your pantry shelf unopened for 3 to 4 years. Once opened, keep them in their original brine in a container with a lid or the original jar. For the most part, we use the stuffed green olive or the black from the can in most of our recipes. However, get creative and try some of the other varieties that specialty markets and gourmet sections of your supermarket may carry.

Olive Dictionary

  • Manzanilla:  Spanish green olive, available unpitted and/or stuffed
  • Picholine:  French green olive, salt-brine cured, with subtle, lightly salty flavor
  • Kalamata:  Greek black olive, deep purple, almond-shaped rich and fruity flavor
  • Niçoise:  French black olive, small in size, rich, nutty, mellow flavor, high pit-to-meat ratio, often packed with herbs and stems intact
  • Liguria:  Italian black olive, with a vibrant flavor, sometimes packed with stems
  • Ponentine:  Italian black olive, salt-brine cured then packed in vinegar, mild in flavor
  • Gaeta:  Italian black olive, dry-salt cured, then rubbed with oil, wrinkled in appearance, mild flavor, often packed with rosemary and other herbs
  • Lugano:  Italian black olive, usually very salty, sometimes packed with olive leaves
  • Sevillano:  Californian, salt-brine cured, very crisp

Modified from

Olives are typically not the main ingredient in a recipe. That being said, the following recipes are all olive-centric and showcase the full-bodied flavor of these bite size treats. While you can interchange the different types of olives in the recipes, you should know that some are saltier than others and you need to adjust the recipe accordingly.



This is a thick olive topping that is terrific with crackers, bread or on chicken or fish.

Servings: Approx. 2 cups


  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons capers
  • 2 anchovy fillets, rinsed
  • 1 3/4 cups pitted black or green olives (or a combination)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (fresh is best)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • black pepper to taste (optional)


  1. In a food processor, combine all the ingredients and pulse until the mixture forms a paste.

Modified from


Servings: 6


  • 4 large tomatoes cut into chunks
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 head romaine, shredded
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cups feta cheese, crumbled
  • 14 to 16 Kalamata olives, pitted


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt and black pepper to taste


  1. Combine all the dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake to combine and set it aside.
  2. In a salad bowl place the tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper, onion and romaine and toss to combine.
  3. Top with cheese and olives and drizzle the dressing on top.
  4. Toss to coat and serve.

My files, source unknown.


Servings: 4


  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 large can whole tomatoes
  • 14 to 16 large green or black olives
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder or more to taste


  1. In large skillet heat the oil and lightly brown the chicken. Don’t cook it fully, just brown the outside. Remove the chicken from pan and drain it on paper towels.
    <em>Don’t clean the pan.</em>
  2. Add the onion and green and red pepper to pan and cook slightly.
  3. Stir in the garlic and rice. Cook, stirring until rice begins to turn golden.
  4. Add the tomatoes, olives, chicken broth, oregano and chili powder.
  5. Bring the mixture to a boil and then add the chicken. Cover the pan and cook at a simmer for 30 to 35 minutes or until the chicken is done.

My files, source unknown.


Servings: 12 – 16


  • Butter for greasing pan
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 16 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 8 oz. grated sharp cheddar
  • 1 pkg. taco seasoning
  • 16 oz sour cream, divided
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup diced green or black olives, drained well
  • 1/2 cup red bell peppers, diced
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 2 cups of your favorite guacamole or avocado dip
  • chopped tomatoes for garnish
  • chopped olives for garnish
  • cheddar for garnish
  • corn chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 10 inch springform pan, coat it with panko bread crumbs and set it aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend the cream cheese, cheddar and taco seasoning until fluffy. Stir in 1 cup sour cream. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Fold in the olives and peppers.
  3. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack.
  4. Combine remaining sour cream with salsa and spread the mixture on top. Bake for an additional 5 minutes.
  5. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  6. To Serve: run a knife around the edge of the pan and then remove sides from springform. Top with the guacamole. Garnish with the additional tomatoes, olives and cheese.

Serve with corn chips.

Submitted by Reggie Magaran of Chicago, IL.



  • 2 (6 oz.) can Lindsay Naturals Green Ripe Olives, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup jarred roasted red pepper, diced
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • toasted pita wedges, crackers, thinly sliced baguettes or tortilla chips
  • Italian flat leaf parsley as a garnish


  1. Place the olives, red pepper, feta, oregano and lemon zest together in a bowl. Gently toss.
  2. Spoon the mixture into a small bowl and place in the center of a larger platter.  Surround the bowl of with the pita wedges, crackers, baguette slices and/or tortilla chips.
    Alternatively, spread the olive mixture onto the pita wedge and/or baguette slices, garnish with flat leaf Italian parsley.  Place on a platter and serve immediately.

Recipe created by cookbook author Joanne Weir, modified.


Servings: 6 (1/4 cup)


  • 1 (7.5 oz.) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and diced
  • 1/2 cup diced Ripe Pitted or Greek Kalamata Pitted Olives
  • 1/2 cup diced plum tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup shredded Asiago cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons light or regular sour cream
  • 2 Tablespoons light or regular mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients; mix well. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours before serving. Serve with crackers or chips.

Modified from


Servings:  6 – 8


  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 chili peppers, diced
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 2-1/4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2-1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 (1 lb.) box macaroni pasta, cooked
  • 8 oz. white tuna, drained and flaked
  • 1 (6 oz.) can California Black Ripe Olives, whole, pitted
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika


  1. Preheat oven to 400&deg;F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
  2. In a saucepan melt the butter. Stir in peppers and garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 to 2 more minutes until smooth and golden. Whisk in the vegetable broth, a half cup at a time, until smooth and bring to a boil.
  3. Turn heat down to simmer and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in cheese and remove from heat.
  4. Add the cooked pasta, tuna and olives. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.
  5. Top with breadcrumbs, sprinkle with paprika and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Recipe courtesy of the California Olive Committee, modified.

OLIVE CORN AND RICE SALAD (pareve or dairy)

You can add or subtract the amount of veggies as you please!

Servings: 6 – 8


  • 1 (16 oz.) can whole corn, drained or 2 cups fresh off the cob
  • 3 to 4 cups cooked rice
  • 1/ 2 cup chopped red pepper
  • 1/ 2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 cup chopped black olives
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, shredded
  • 1 to 2 tomatoes, chopped and seeded
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, optional


  1. In medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, corn, rice, peppers, green onions and olives.
  2. In a jar with a lid, combine the oil, vinegar, soy sauce, parsley, mustard and garlic powder. Shake the dressing to combine and pour over the salad.
  3. Cover and chill several hours.
  4. Stir in the shredded lettuce just before serving, then top with the Parmesan cheese if using.

My files, source unknown.


Servings: 4 – 6


  • 1 lb. pasta (fusilli or bow tie), cooked according to the package, drained, kept warm
  • 5 small zucchini cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 (28 oz.) can Italian plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 1 cup black olives, sliced
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 lb. Mozzarella cheese, shredded or cubed
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese for topping


  1. Preheat oven to 350&deg;F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
  2. In a large frying pan, heat the oil and saute zucchini until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and put in a large bowl.
  3. Add the pasta, tomatoes, olives, 1/3 cup Parmesan, rosemary and 1/2 of the mozzarella. Mix to combine.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and mix to combine. Place the mixture into the prepared pan.
  5. Cover the top with the remaining mozzarella and parmesan and bake until cheese is melted and the top slightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes.

Modified from The New Pasta Cookbook by Joanne Glynn.

Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher food writer who was born and raised in the Chicago area. She graduated from Indiana University and the Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Paris. She lectures on various food-related topics across the U.S. and Canada and writes weekly columns for the Chicago Jewish News, and the OU Shabbat Shalom Website. She is the author of the Perfectly Pareve Cookbook (Feldheim) and is a contributing writer for the Chicken Soup for the Soul Book Group, Chicago Sun TimesDetroit Free Press and Woman’s World Magazine. You can visit Eileen’s blog by clicking: Cuisine by Eileen.