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)
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)
This recipe is made up of two easy steps:
- Making the dough. This can be prepared in advance or even the day before, stored in the fridge and brought back to room temperature.
- 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:
- 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:
- 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.
Assembling the olive roll:
- 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.
- Preheat the oven to 350F (180 C). Repeat the same operation with the other ball of dough.
- 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.
- 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.
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