Fried Stuffed Olives
In June of 1994, my husband and I attended the Aspen Food and Wine Festival in Aspen, Colorado. I remember the year because it was when the infamous white bronco car chase occurred in Los Angeles. I also know that it was June 12th, because two innocent people were killed on my daughter’s birthday. Although only 8, she was not happy about that.
The festival was crazy. There were so many people, and being short, taller people kept elbowing me in the head and practically knocked me over trying to get to a bit of food and a sip of wine like they’d just been released from a concentration camp, which is why we’ve never been tempted to attend another food and wine festival since.
We did see Julia Child in all her glory at a presentation. I’m so glad my husband was with me; he understands now how special that was.
There was a tent on the festival grounds dedicated to Spain and its foods, and what I remember the most were the deep-fried olives. In fact, between wanting to make them as well as Italian arancini, I soon afterwards purchased a small, electric deep fryer.
It was a couple of decades before I finally made arancini. It’s now time to make the olives.
I have many Italian cookbooks, but the one I reached for was Polpo, by Russel Norman, and I found the perfect recipe. Many fried olives are stuffed with blue cheese, and I just wanted the olives to shine. . Others use the Sicilian Castelvevetrano, but those are just so good as is.
This recipe from Polpo uses Queen olives – big and juicy! And very hard to pit.
By the author: “These cunning little savory confections surprise and delight with the first bite. You’re not really sure what to expect, but the double hit of saltiness from the olive and then the anchovy tends to wake up the taste buds and sharpen the appetite. They’re as sophisticated a cocktail snack as any I know and never fail to impress.”
Fried Stuffed Olives
10 brown anchovy fillets, drained
5 sage leaves
1 garlic clove
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 handful of grated Parmesan
20 large Italian “queen” green olives, pitted
3 medium free-range egg whites
Italian 00 flour for coating
1 liter vegetable oil
Chop the anchovies, sage, and garlic as finely as possible and then, using a pestle and mortar (or in a bowl with the end of a rolling pin), turn into a paste, adding the lemon juice a few drops at a time. Mix in a pinch of black pepper and the Parmesan.
Stuff the olives by using a disposable piping bag to squirt your mixture into the hole left from pitting the olives. Dip into the egg white, then the flour, and then the breadcrumbs.
Half fill a deep pan with the vegetable oil and bring the temperature up to 190 degrees C (375° F.) Deep fry the coated olives in the oil for 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper.
I don’t exactly remember how the fried olives looked that day at the food festival, but I’m sure they looked better than these. I tried only using flour, and with some of the olives I only used panko. No matter what I did they didn’t coat well and didn’t look pretty after frying.
The olives look like the perfect aperitif snack. We make the olives at Christmas but use an all together different filling. I will have to give the filling you made a try. It looks delicious.
I wanted to taste the olives more than the filling, so I didn’t go the blue cheese direction. Certainly an Italian sausage would be good. I liked this filling though. Tangy!
They look delicious!!
I have never seen anything like this recipe but I can tell you that my husband would go wild over them. Olives and anchovies are two of his favorite foods! I’ll have to give these a try for him- maybe for Valentines Day- Thanks
I hope you have a better time of making them. They just didn’t turn out very pretty, but definitely yummy!
I would snack on them until all gone!
I know what you mean!
The filling sounds really delicious Mimi! Some of my favorite ingredients. It’s been my experience that even if a lot of the coating falls off, they still taste delicious!
And you’re right, these are delicious, just not at all attractive!
Isn’t that why parsley was invented?
Wow, I’ve never heard of fried olives, let alone stuffed ones! And on a cheese plate, no less! That sounds amazing!
Oh good! Well I hope you give these a try. You’ll have a better result!!!
Okay, first – I never knew you were short. You always look/seem so tall! Second, I love polpo, too – such a great cookbook. Third, I love fried stuffed olives but have never made his recipe – I stuffed mine with sausage. It is a lot of work, eh? Our Italian neighbors were duly impressed that I made them – and they would be impressed by you. Apparently, if Italians want them on their cheese plates, they go to a street vendor and buy them! I definitely want to try this version, being a huge anchovy fan – just got out the cookbook. Thanks for bringing it to our attention!
So I seem tall?!!! I love it! I’m truly happy being short until it comes to crowds! Well I understand that. Good delis have everything available that you don’t have to make at home! I remember Balducci’s in NYC many decades okay. And one in Boston that I could have moved in to…
Oh my goodness those flavours in one little bite – I will definitely give these olives a go and luckily they’ll all be mine because I live with a picky eater haha. And that food festival sounds both fun (for the gourmand you are!) and like hell, why are people so aggressive when food is around?!
When there’s free food, people really do go crazy. I used to cater a lot for charity events, and even without an entry fee, people basically showed up for dinner. Terrible.
I love a savory snack, like this! And who cares if some of the breading falls off? I would simply go last in line and scrape those crumbs right on top of my plate! I have a question about the recipe in your book, though. Could it be a misprint that it suggests the egg whites first before the flour? I would think the flour would help the egg white stick to the olive so the crumbs then stick to the egg white. Either way, yum!
Very interesting. I wish I’d tried that. You may be right. I don’t do a lot of breading, and what you’re saying makes sense. I just wish they’d ended up prettier!
I love olives, but stuffed AND fried ones? How unique and delicious! Loving the flavours going on here.
Yes and yes! That’s why I’ve been waiting so long to make these! They made such an impression on me!
This is CRAZY, but WE were in Aspen when OJ’s car chase was on TV, too!! I grew up going for a week or two almost every summer from 1970 on with my parents and sisters so my dad could work at Aspen’s Center for Physics and hike. We were there for the bicentennial, too, and enjoyed the fireworks being shot off Aspen mountain. Well, I’ve gotten off topic, but I was going to say that Bill loves green olives and these would be a great addition to our Valentine’s Day menu.
Oh wow! That’s such an interesting coincidence! We stayed there for a July 4th once. Also crazy, but just what you’d expect! Hopefully you have better luck with these olives!
This is a fun recipe, Mimi! I found the story of your memory of the Festival so interesting, too. You’ve been to many very special food-related events, and I’m so pleased you share your experiences with us. You inspire me to try something different, and these fried stuffed olives sound amazing. :-)
Thanks, Debra. I have lots of food-related memories. Not many for much of anything else… Even lots of children memories seem to disappear, even though I think they’re memories I would never forget! The olives are good!
Wonderful post. The olives look wonderful! I would have been so thrilled to see Julia. I confess that I rather idolize her. I did see Alice Waters on the street corner as we were leaving Chez Panisse–that was a thrill, too.
Nice! Yes, my husband is always willing to do whatever, and that included going to a Julia presentation. She was really cute. Hulking, funny, calm, and cute.
Did they taste as good as you remembered? I would have bought olives that were already stuffed. I don’t think I’m patient enough for that task.
Well if you’re not, I had no business trying them myself. But we have no delis where I live. It was a decent effort. I honestly, and surprisingly, can’t remember what those tasted like at the festival.
Complimenti! Sono meravigliose e di certo buonissime!
I had those as a snack in a bar some years ago, I don’t think they were stuffed with your delicious mix but they were good; especially good with a drink. And, I share your experience with food and wine festivals…folks act like they are starving and it can be a free for all.
Yes. Craziness! And obviously not everyone is starving. These olives are tasty!
A fun post and fried olives, what a treat . I am a big fan of Julia Child and saw her at a Chalone wine tasting in the nineties.
Very cool. It was really meaningful. She made people laugh even though she didn’t do it on purpose!
Fried olives keep popping up, and I clearly need to listen to the universe. These look delicious! I feel like I would love a blue cheese stuffed fried olive. I think I need to do some “experiments” to determine if this is true! Looks delicious, Mimi!
Of course, you can buy those! Just not fried, of course. But at least you don’t have to do the stuffing!
i remember going to a restaurant some years back and they had these on the menu. I remember thinking how sorry i felt for the chef who had to make these fiddly and oh so delicious morsels for a restaurant of hungry diners!
Ha! Yes! And fiddly isn’t why favorite way to cook. But for one time, I survived!
Beautiful explosion of flavours, Italian way! Love it very much!
With great Italian ingredients!
At first the thought of a wine and food festival sounded great, but once you talked about the behavior of the crowd, I had second thoughts. Still, it gave you inspiration to try some new recipes and you got to see Julia Child! That’s impressive…
She was pretty old at that point, but still a hulking dominant figure, completely in charge but with a super calm manner. So impressive.
And that stuffing – so good. I bet these are quite addictive – like dangerously delicious. Need to try this asap
Yeah…. they’re pretty addictive.
How lucky you were to see Julia Child. It’s nearly afternoon drinks time here, when I would love to demolish a plate of those olives with a glass of red. I’m full of admiration at how you removed the stone and stuffed them so perfectly. The stuffing sounds delicious Mimi, as do the olives
Thanks! Pitting the pits was really hard work!
Ah, this brings me back. Have you ever had olive ascolane? They are ubiquitous in Roman pizzerie and lovely little meat-stuffed nibbles. Though truth be told, I think I like the sound of this stuffing even better. Anything with anchovies!
Ha! I love anchovies as well. I haven’t heard of olive ascolane. Off to look it up!
These sound wonderful! I love olives, but never thought about frying them!
I guess the Italians do it too! Good little treats!
This sounds like a delicious and unique take on traditional fried olives! The combination of juicy Queen olives, anchovy paste, and sage make for a sophisticated and tasty snack. It’s great to hear that this recipe was inspired by a memorable trip to the Aspen Food and Wine Festival, I also make food most of the times becuase of inspirations. Thank you for sharing this recipe with us!
Yes, I love replicating a good meal occasionally. I remember all of this like it was yesterday!
Just saved your recipe–I’ve always wanted to try fried stuffed olives and you the anchovies sealed the deal for me. A local specialty store sells anchovy-stuffed olives but the sage, lemon and garlic here would be worth the extra effort. (And I think they turned out beautifully! Pretty pictures!)
ohhh well thanks! I wasn’t happy with the coating, but they were good!!!