It wasn’t until a few years ago that I finally came to terms with the idea that olives are not the worst-tasting thing on planet Earth. As a kid, the mere thought of getting near one of those green orbs floating in my grandmother’s frosted martini glass would send a shudder down my spine. Today, to my surprise, I’ve come to decide they’re beyond exquisite.
Although palates don’t exactly get more refined with age, my open-mindedness to noshing on this briny, earthy fruit (yes, fruit!) has quickly grown over the years. My days without them were the pits! Now, my life (and #GirlDinners) are filled with olive everything. Cake, tapenades, ice cream, a big ol’ bowl of Kalamata olives, and I’m just getting started. Ahead: some of the best olive recipes that highlight this star ingredient and a few reasons why they’re as nutritious as it is delicious. (As cliché as that may be.)
What makes olives so good for you?
If this is the first time you’ve heard about the health benefits of olives, you’re welcome. Here are the topline facts you need to know:
Olives are packed with heart-healthy fats: olive oil is basically the sweetheart ingredient of the American Heart Association, which deems the ingredient one of the best types of cooking oil for your cardiovascular system due to its high content of monounsaturated fat. Olive oil can help reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease—in fact, a study of more than 90,000 people found that consuming just half a tablespoon of olive oil a day helps lower your risk of heart disease. What’s more, olives are rich in longevity-boosting antioxidants—like vitamin E and polyphenols—that help protect the body against oxidative stress. Do keep in mind that they also tend to be high in sodium, so polishing off an entire jar in one sitting would be…less-than-ideal for heart health.
Still, all to say: It’s the least bit surprising to hear that olives are one of the top 10 anti-inflammatory foods folks in the Blue Zones can’t get enough of. So, how can we incorporate more of ’em into our daily lives? Keep reading to find out several savory and sweet olive recipes to give them the attention they deserve. (Finally!)
5 olive recipes that’ll make your heart happy
1. Olive Oil Cake
Yes, birthday cake and devil’s food cake are delicious. But have you ever tried olive oil cake? It’s a game-changer when it comes to olive recipes. The beauty lies in the simplicity of the dish and the ingredients used to make it. Instead of relying on butter or milk to moisten the batter of Yumna Jawad of Feel Good Foodie’s cake recipe, you use none other than olive oil, which adds the most divine and silky-smooth mouthfeel and depth of flavor that’s nutty, warm, and earthy (in the best possible way). Pair it with a cup of antioxidant-rich tea, and you have the perfect afternoon snack.
And to deck your kitchen out with a little extra olive flare, may we suggest Jawad’s No Kid Hungry charity spatula that features the cutest (hand-drawn!) olives, aka one of her favorite ingredients that represent her passion for Mediterranean cooking and her Lebanese roots.
Get the recipe: Olive Oil Cake
2. Warm Marinated Olives with Lemon Zest, Rosemary, and Almonds
POV: Your in-laws are coming over for dinner, and you’re trying to impress for less. Instead of running to your local grocery store to pick up an overpriced antipasto platter, make one yourself featuring these warm marinated olives by Feasting at Home. Rest assured: Those still a little apprehensive about eating olives on their own can sleep easy knowing that these marinated ones are dripping with palate-pleasing flavors thanks to a DIY rosemary and garlic-infused oil that’s the epitome of a chef’s kiss. Nothing to be intimidated about here.
Get the recipe: Warm Marinated Olives with Lemon Zest, Rosemary, and Almonds
3. Greek Sheet Pan Dinner
Girl dinners are great and all, but this Greek sheet pan chicken dinner by Downshiftology trades snacks for a complete meal that’s equally as easy to make and covers all the bases: protein, veggies, fruits, fiber, antioxidants, and the list goes on. But that’s not all. This recipe also features many of the Blue Zone-approved ingredients we know and love. Think: Olive oil (obvi), olives (we love), feta cheese, lemon, tomatoes, bell peppers, and parsley, to name a few. In fact, this recipe should be dubbed the “Longevity” Sheet Pan Dinner.
Get the recipe: Greek Sheet Pan Dinner
4. Olive Tapenade
Have a handful of pitted olives, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, garlic, and some basil or parsley sitting in the fridge that are about to expire? Then you should toss it all into a food processor along with some lemon juice and olive oil and pulse away to make Love and Lemon’s foolproof tapenade recipe. All that’s left to do is toast some crusty bread and lather the briny, savory, and umami-rich spread across the surface. Swoon.
Get the recipe: olive tapenade
5. Beef Empanadas
Love empanadas? Say no more. One of the secret ingredients that helps transform the filling of these stuffed dough pockets by Tastes Better From Scratch is olives which help cut through the richness of the ground beef with their light and tangy flavor profile. Don’t eat beef? No problem. You can easily adapt this recipe to turn it into a vegan empanada version that’s equally as delicious and, more importantly, olive-friendly.
Get the recipe: empanadas
An RD explains the benefits of olive oil: