Olive roll

November 22, 2009  •  Category:


Olives figure at the top of my list of favorite foods. I can eat them every day, several times a day, and not tire of them. I grew up in Lebanon, where olives figure at every meal, including breakfast. It is inconceivable for a Lebanese to go out to eat at any restaurant and not to be served olives immediately. When I moved to the US, in the late seventies, supermarkets carried  only black pitted olives in cans and to me these  did not taste anything like olives. What a change thirty years has brought! Now, you can find a neighborhood supermarket with an olive bar! I still prefer to get mine at the middle-eastern grocer, since I don’t have the next best thing which is to bring them back from Lebanon, plucked from our own trees and cured at home.

Combined with good olives and spices this is an excellent appetizer, rich and flaky with the chewy and lemony taste of olives. It can be prepared in advance and will stay fresh several days, so it is ideal for a party, since it can be served at room temperature.

It can also be frozen for a couple of weeks.

I have tweaked the recipe to suit my taste, adding some herbs and peppers.

INGREDIENTS: This quantity will yield 2 rolls serving  up to 12

To make the dough:

  • 2  cups  all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (less one tablespoon)  olive oil or any vegetable oil (100 ml)
  • 1/2 cup(less one  tablespoons) orange juice ( 100 ml)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten slightly with a fork (optional-to give a sheen to the crust)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (optional)

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To make the filling:

  • 2 cups of black olives
  • 2 cups of green olives
  • 1/2  teaspoon ground cumin
  • pinch of oregano
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons of red pepper paste (optional)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded, cut in tiny bits (optional)

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This recipe is made up of two easy steps:

  1. Making the dough. This can be prepared in advance or even the day before, stored in the fridge and brought back to room temperature.
  2. Making the filling:. This step can also be done the day before or several days before if you are not including the cilantro and pepper.

Making the dough:

  1. Place the flour and baking powder and pinch of salt in a mixer and mix for a few seconds. Add the olive oil and mix until the dough is crumbly. Add the orange juice gradually to the dough until a mass of dough starts to take shape. Turn off the mixer , compress the dough into a ball and let it rest for 30 minutes, or refrigerate it if not using right away. This dough should be firm and moist.

Making the filling:

  1. The olives need to be pitted and chopped up coarsely. They are placed in a bowl and the cumin and oregano is added as well as the chopped cilantro and jalapeño pepper and red pepper paste (if using). Mix all and keep covered until needed or refrigerate if using in a few hours.

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Assembling the olive roll:

  1. Divide the dough in two balls of equal weight. Place a long piece of aluminum foil on a work surface and grease it (or spray oil on it). Roll the ball into a square, about 10X10 inches. Lay half the stuffing all over the surface of the square. Roll it up using the foil underneath to prop the dough forward.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F (180 C). Repeat the same operation with the other ball of dough.
  3. Place both rolls  on the foil on a baking sheet and brush the egg yolk on the top and along the sides. Sprinkle some sesame seeds on top if desired.
  4. Bake for 30 or 40 minutes until the rolls are golden-brown and crisp all over. Remove and let them cool for a few minutes. Serve immediately or wrap and serve later or the next day at room temperature.



If the olives are too salty, you can soak them in water and change the water every 20 minutes, until they lose the salt. Keep the olives in a bowl with a generous splash of olive oil to cover.

Recipe is adapted from Nada Saleh’s Seductive Flavours of the Levant.


29 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Rosa says:

    A scrumptious roll Very appetizing!



  2. Angie@Angie's Recipe says:

    A very creative and great appetizer!

  3. Amy says:

    This looks wonderful. How do leftovers keep. Could this be served at room temperature as well? I am thinking of making it for a holiday party and serving it fresh from the oven would be difficult.

    • Joumana says:

      @Amy, the leftovers keep very well. You can make it the day before without any problem. It is served at room temperature.

      @Angie and Rosa: Thanks!

  4. HistoryOf GreekFood says:

    Excellent appetizer, indeed. Thanks Joumana!

  5. Ivy says:

    We make Elioti in Cyprus as well and it’s exactly the same as yours without the optional ingredients you use. The only thing hard to find in Greece, which I love is cilantro. Thanks for reminding me of this recipe, which I haven’t made for over a year.

    • Joumana says:

      @Ivy: how interesting! I am learning so much from you about regional cuisine. I find it hard to believe that cilantro is not common in Greek cooking.

      @Doria: Eh bien, merci!

  6. Doria says:

    Ces rouleaux aux olives sont parfait pour un apéro et c’est très original !
    Bisous, Doria

  7. Nadjibella says:

    Ce mariage de saveurs déjà dans la pâte ( huile d’olive et jus d’orange) me plait beaucoup.
    Ces mélanges improbables ne peuvent donner que des résultats fantastiques.
    Je note la recette. Merci.

  8. Arlette says:

    Marhaba Joumana

    Kifik… You reminded me of this roll which I completely forgot….
    I never used cilantro in mine, I use parsley and sometimes mix it with mint.
    and i twist or sometimes braid it

    Looks delicious… thanks for reminding me of this bread which I didn’t make for ages… I have to try your recipe with the cilantro and see…
    thanks for sharing yummy food.

  9. Juliana says:

    Oh! Your olive roll looks absolutely gorgeous…we too love olive, all kind 🙂

  10. Aline08 says:

    A very nice idea especially with Christmas approaching. I think that I will try it very soon.

  11. spice says:

    Looks so yummy & tempting….will surely try these sometime…

  12. Peter says:

    Joumana, my family makes similar olive roll ups with the black, sun-dried olives, sauteed onions and rosemary…a delight to snack on!

  13. Magdalena says:

    I saw this recipe only now. It is a great idea for a savory cake – rolled like this they are even more interesting! Very nice. Rolls are popular in Poland, but in sweet versions. Definitely I have to do yours, as I am lately in a mood for baking savory cakes (I made three more last week).

    P.S. I love olives, too. However, I prefer green ones, marinated in olive oil with garlic (not surprising). My husband prefers black ones (Greek style).

  14. Homecook says:

    Hi, I love this recipe. I actually tried making it and it came out really nice however I was confused on one point for the dough. You say two cups of flour but you point out that it should be 8 oz / 250ml which equals to one cup. Can you please clarify on whether your recipe requires one cup or two cups of flour? I will be making this for guests tomorrow. Thanks!

    • Joumana says:

      @Homecook: sorry, I do mean to measure 2 cups of flour; now, as all baking recipes contain variables having to do with that day’s humidity level, type of flour, method of measuring the flour, etc, here is what I recommend: once you are done measuring and mixing all the ingredients, use your common sense to adjust the flour quantity: if the dough is too wet and will be difficult to roll, add a bit more flour; conversely, if it is too dry, add another egg yolks, or a bit more liquid in the form of orange juice or white wine. Good luck and if you have time, let me know how it turned out! ( I could not stop eating it)

  15. Murasaki Shikibu says:

    This is making me hungry and it’s 00:58. I can get some oil cured black olives but not sure which kind of green ones I should get for this.

  16. Medifast Coupons says:

    These recipes are always inventive and so tasty! This truly is a unqiue way to experience olives in a blanket with pastry, oh so pretty. Again, well done!

  17. domi says:

    voilà des ” roulés ” qui pourront nous conduire à l’ apéritif du week end en toute sécurité. Dans le sud ici aussi nous cuisinons les olives et la coriandre a sa place sur nos table. Ces roll sont très jolis et fort goûteux, j’ en veux….

  18. Violet Bounaparte says:

    yummy looking good! can i use puff pastry instead?

  19. Austen says:

    Hmm, this looks wonderful. I wonder whether I am able to make such a perfect roll but I definitely will try. You got me with the red wine pic! 😉

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