Slice of Life: Olives

August 16, 2011

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.

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There are two camps of olive lovers, the “I can’t get enough of those green ones lovers” and the “I can’t understand why everyone doesn’t just eat the black olives lovers”. While I suppose that one can be an equal opportunity olive eater odds are you have a favorite bite sized morsel that you just gotta have. Since there are quite a few varieties of olives to indulge in it stands to reason that having a little info about them will help make your choice a little easier.

Unlike other fruits (yes an olive is considered a fruit) you must cure the olive before you can pop them in your mouth. If you try to eat them raw, right off the tree you’d find them incredibly bitter and indigestible. Like I said, there are two kinds of olives, green and black, green being unripe olives and black being the ripe ones. Green and black olives are cured in a lye bath, a vinegar brine and or salt brine and what you brine them in affects the kind of flavor and texture you end up with. Basically the green ones tend to be tangier and the black ones mellower. Just know when you open a can or jars of olives the leftovers should be refrigerated.

The most popular black olives (in America) are probably the Mission, black Greek, Kalamata, Nicoise, and Royal. The most popular green ones is the Manzanilla or Spanish olive, (which typically comes pitted and stuffed). Most of the non common varieties are available in grocery stores with specialty sections. Both green and black olives are great in baked goods, salads, spreads and just about every kind of dish except desserts.

So the next time you head to the grocery grab an extra can or jar of your favorite and try some of the following interesting and different recipes.

Note: The best cooking with olive tip I can give you is that they taste best if added to a dish just before you finish the cooking as they can become bitter if they’re cooked too long.


  • 3 avocados, peeled, seeded, and mashed
  • 1 cup sliced black olives, drained
  • 1/2 cup jalapeno peppers, diced
  • 1/3 cup red onion, minced
  • 3 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 heaping teaspoon minced garlic
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients.
  2. Refrigerate at least 2 hours for flavors to blend.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.

Great with pita, corn chips or mini rye bread.


  • 1 1/2 cup green or red pepper, diced small
  • 1 1/2 cup black olives, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds readymade pizza or bread dough, cut into 48 or 60 pieces
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cup readymade pizza sauce
  1. Grease 12 muffin cups and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the pepper, olives, and parmesan. Set the mixture aside.
  3. Pour pizza sauce into a separate bowl. Dip each piece of pizza dough into the pizza sauce, and then roll it in the olive and cheese mixture.
  4. Place four pieces (the 48 pieces) or five pieces (the 60 pieces) of the cheese and olive coated dough into each muffin cup.
  5. Let the pan of rolls rise for 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 °F.
  7. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
  8. Let cool for 7 or 8 minutes before removing the rolls from the pan. Let cool for an additional 5 minutes before serving.

Makes 12. Submitted by Ricky Leaman, source unknown, Chicago IL


  • ½ lb lox cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup shallots, diced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup chopped cooked asparagus (leftovers work great)
  • 1 cup black olives, sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup whipping cream, ½ and ½ or milk
  • ½ cup grated Swiss cheese
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 (9 inch) pie crust
  1. Preheat oven to 375 °F.
  2. In a skillet saute the shallots in the butter until they are soft. Add the lox, asparagus, olives, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook for about 2 minutes then remove the mixture from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, Swiss cheese, Parmesan cheese and milk. Stir in the asparagus and olive and mix to combine. Pour the mixture into the pie crust.
  4. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the top is golden and the center is set.
  5. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 7 to 10 minutes before you try and cut it.

Serves 8. Modified from



  • 2 lemons
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, halved, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 4 1/2-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces, skin removed
  • 1/2 cup green olives
  1. Cut 1 lemon into 8 wedges. Squeeze enough juice from second lemon to measure 2 tablespoons; set wedges and juice aside.
  2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sprinkle with salt and pepper; sauté until golden brown, about 8 minutes.
  3. Add next 5 ingredients; stir 1 minute. Add broth; bring to boil.
  4. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper; add to skillet. Add lemon wedges.
  5. Cover; reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until chicken is cooked through, turning occasionally, 25 to 30 minutes.
  6. Transfer chicken to platter. Add olives and 2 tablespoons lemon juice to skillet.
  7. Increase heat to high; boil uncovered to thicken slightly, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Pour over chicken.

Modified from



  • 1 cup soft butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 sliced green onions
  • 1/2 cup green olives, drained, chopped
  • 1 loaf Italian bread
  1. In the bowl of a food processor combine the butter, garlic, Parmesan, green onions and drained olive.
  2. Process just to combine. You want there to be recognizable pieces of olive and onion.
  3. Place the mixture in a bowl and cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours for the flavors to meld together.
  4. When ready to make the bread Preheat the oven to 375 °F.
  5. Cut the loaf of bread in half and then cut the halves into serving pieces but don’t cut all the way through, you want the bread to be connected.
  6. Spread the mixture on the cut side of the bread and place it on a cookie sheet.
  7. Bake 8-10 minutes then turn the oven up to broil and cook an additional 2 minutes,

Serve immediately. Serves 8 to 10.


My mom subscribed to Gourmet Magazine for years and this is one of the very best recipes she ever made from it.

  • 1-1/4-ounce package (2-1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 4-1/2 to 5 cups flour
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 3/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves plus whole rosemary leaves
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1/2 pound Kalamata, Nicoise, or green Greek olives or a combination, pitted and cut into slivers (about 1 cup)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt, or to taste
  1. In the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook stir together the yeast, the sugar, and lukewarm water and proof the yeast mixture for 5 minutes or until it is foamy.
  2. Stir in 4-1/2 cups of the flour, salt, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and knead the dough, scraping down the dough hook occasionally and adding as much of the remaining 1/2 cup flour as necessary to form a soft, slightly sticky dough, for 3 minutes.
  3. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn it to coat it with the oil, and let it rise, covered, and in a warm place for 1 hour, or until it is double in bulk.
  4. Knead in the chopped rosemary, press the dough with lightly oiled hands into a well-oiled 15-1/2-by 10-1/2-inch jelly-roll pan, and let it rise, covered loosely, for 30 minutes. The dough may be made 8 hours in advance and kept covered and chilled.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 °F.
  6. Dimple the dough with your fingertips, making 1/4-inch-deep indentations, brush it with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, and top it with the onion, the olive, the salt, and the whole rosemary leaves.
  7. Bake the focaccia in the bottom third of a preheated 400 °F oven for 35 to 45 minutes, or until it is golden and cooked through.
  8. Transfer the focaccia to a rack, let it cool for 10 minutes, and serve it, cut into squares, warm or at room temperature.

Serves 6 to 8. Modified from a Gourmet Magazine recipe year unknown


  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 4 lamb shanks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, cut in half and sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 can/jar(s) 21 oz chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1 cup Kalamata olives, pitted
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • cooked noodles
  1. Place the flour, salt and pepper in a paper bag. Shake to combine. Add the lamb shanks and shake to coat.
  2. In a skillet heat the olive oil and braise the lamb shanks on all sides. Remove the shanks and set them aside. Don’t clean the pan.
  3. Add the onions and garlic to the pan and saute the onions are soft, about 6 or 7 minutes. Add the paprika, tomatoes, tomato paste, carrots, sugar, wine, cinnamon stick and rosemary. Mix to combine and bring the mixture to a boil.
  4. Pour the mixture into a slow cooker and add the lamb shanks.
  5. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4.
  6. 30 minutes before you want to serve the lamb add the olives and lemon juice to the slow cooker. Mix to combine.
  7. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes.
  8. Remove and discard the rosemary and cinnamon sticks and serve over noodles.

Modified from


  • 1 lb feta cheese, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup black or Kalamata or Greek olives, pitted and sliced
  • 2 roasted red peppers
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 small red onions, diced
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • lemon juice
  1. In a bowl combine the peppers, feta, olives, olive oil, onion, garlic, vinegar, and thyme.
  2. Mix to combine.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving with crackers and pita.

Serves 6 to 8.


  • 2 pounds bone-in skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2‑1/4 cups water
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup sliced pimiento-stuffed green olives
  • 1‑1/2 teaspoons dried sage
  • 1 cups uncooked white rice
  • 1/2 cup wild rice
  1. Sprinkle the chicken with paprika and salt and pepper.
  2. In a skillet heat the oil and brown the chicken for 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
  3. Remove chicken from skillet and place it on a place. Add the wine to the pan and, using a wooden spoon, scrape the bottom of skillet to loosen any pieces. Add the water, broth, olives and sage. Bring the mixture to a boil and then bring it to a simmer.
  4. Add the chicken, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Uncover and add the rice and mix to make sure the rice is evenly distributed. Cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and rice is done.

Serves 6. Submitted by Zipporah Kahan NY, NY

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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 Times, Detroit Free Press and Woman’s World Magazine. You can visit Eileen’s blog by clicking: Cuisine by Eileen