Olive Spread

I purchased A Middle Eastern Pantry, by Chef Lior Lev Sercarz, in early 2023, soon after it was published. Mr. Sercarz owns La Boîte in New York City, New York, a highly regarded spice store. I own his first book, The Spice Companion, published in 2017, and was extremely impressed with his knowledge and bio. The book is basically a spice encyclopedia. There’s more information about him in this post.

I have bookmarked at least 50 recipes in this latest publication. I love when a cookbook gets me this excited. Besides recipes, the book offers up lots of information about Middle Eastern pantry staples, with tips on using various ingredients like grape molasses and verjus, and spice mixtures like shawarma and baharat.

One tip, for example, is to use orange blossom water to accentuate the floral flavors of fresh stone fruit or tomatoes. Another tip is to use tahini in meatballs for extra richness.

The first recipe I chose to make is his olive spread. Trust me, this is no tapenade. Two surprise ingredients are rose petals and rose water!

Mr. Sercarz recommends Picholine, Manzanilla, or Cerignola olives for this recipe, not buttery mild olives like Castelvetrano.

“Try spreading this over slices of fresh bread, serving it on top of grilled fish, or using it as a seasoning paste on a rack of lamb before cooking.”

Olive Spread
Makes about 1 cup

1 – 1 1/2 cups pitted green olives, I used Manzanilla
1/4 cup pistachios
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 small garlic clove, peeled
1 tablespoon loosely packed rose petals, crumbled, plus more for serving
1 tablespoon finely diced shallot
1 tablespoon rose water
1 tablespoon pistachio oil, plus more for serving
Salt
Fresh pomegranate arils, for serving

In a food processor, pulse 1 cup of the olives, the pistachios, olive oil, pomegranate molasses, and garlic until finely chopped but not yet pureed.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl and gently stir in the rose petals, shallot, rose water, and pistachio oil. The mixture should be the texture of a coarse tapenade.

Depending on the type of olives used, it may be too runny. If so, add the remaining 1/2 cup olives to the food processor to chop, then stir into the spread.

Taste and add salt if necessary. Serve right away, or cover and refrigerate, then bring back to room temperature before serving.

To serve, spread the mixture in a serving dish and garnish with a drizzle of pistachio oil, crumbled rose petals, and pomegranate arils.

This tapenade, as unique as it is, was delicious. I was afraid I might not enjoy the smell and flavor of rose water, but it’s hardly discernable. The flavors just blend beautifully!

By Published On: April 16th, 202442 Comments on Olive Spread

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

42 Comments

  1. Bernadette April 16, 2024 at 6:16 AM - Reply

    I have rose water and pomegranate molasses in the pantry, so I will be making this soon. I used your recipe as a template to make the “gourmet” crackers this past weekend. They are delicious but I couldn’t get them sliced this enough. Did you use anything besides a good knife? I was wondering about a mandolin.

    • Chef Mimi April 16, 2024 at 7:16 AM - Reply

      Perfect! No, I just used a bread knife. Mine aren’t terribly thin!

  2. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen April 16, 2024 at 7:28 AM - Reply

    This certainly has me intrigued! Never would I have thought of this combination, but I’m definitely going to give it a try. I have most of the ingredients, and a big gathering next week…

    • Chef Mimi April 16, 2024 at 8:22 AM - Reply

      I know! Such an interesting combination of flavors!

  3. angiesrecipes April 16, 2024 at 7:54 AM - Reply

    Love olives! Just bought a whole kilo from a Turkish shop here. The spread looks absolutely divine.

    • Chef Mimi April 16, 2024 at 8:22 AM - Reply

      Oh, you’re so lucky!!!

  4. David Scott Allen April 16, 2024 at 7:54 AM - Reply

    I need to check out both books — I don’t remember your post about The Spice Companion. I use both rose buds and rose water a lot — and brought back a huge bag of the buds from Morocco. They are so fragrant and flavorful. I can’t wait to make this recipe. Thanks, Mimi

    • Chef Mimi April 16, 2024 at 8:23 AM - Reply

      Oh how lovely! The spread is really fascinating!

  5. Carrie Tyler April 16, 2024 at 10:34 AM - Reply

    I love making Olive tapenade and a creamy olive dip. But this is such a delicious twist with the addition of pistachios! I’m definitely trying this.

    • Chef Mimi April 16, 2024 at 3:10 PM - Reply

      I know! So different, and crazy good!

  6. johnrieber April 16, 2024 at 10:58 AM - Reply

    Terrific looking recipe – share your olive crisps recipe today!

    • Chef Mimi April 16, 2024 at 3:10 PM - Reply

      Thank you! That’s very nice of you.

      • johnrieber April 16, 2024 at 6:21 PM

        AS I SAID IN MY STORY, WE BUY A VERSION OF THESE IN A STORE SO WHY SHOULDN’T I MAKE YOUR RECIPE INSTEAD? I PLAN TO DO THAT NEXT WEEK! Oh, and I hit “caps” by mistake!

      • Chef Mimi April 17, 2024 at 7:02 AM

        Hahahahahaha!

  7. sherry April 16, 2024 at 6:51 PM - Reply

    this spread sounds amazing Mimi. I love Middle Eastern flavours! I actually like floral tastes in my food so the rosewater sounds like a great addition to this spread. I have a very well-thumbed copy of Middle Eastern foods by Tess Mallos, and love the recipes.
    cheers
    sherry

    • Chef Mimi April 17, 2024 at 7:03 AM - Reply

      The ingredients, flavors, and textures area all so wonderful. I could eat it every day.

  8. Tandy | Lavender and Lime April 17, 2024 at 1:00 AM - Reply

    The rose petals in the photograph really surprised me, but this is my type of recipe, and I know I would love the recipe book as well :)

    • Chef Mimi April 17, 2024 at 7:03 AM - Reply

      I didn’t think the pomegranate seeds were necessary, and the color didn’t really go with the rose petals, but the flavor was good.

  9. Charlie DeSando April 17, 2024 at 7:08 AM - Reply

    looks tasty, nice presentation

    • Chef Mimi April 17, 2024 at 7:56 AM - Reply

      Thanks, Charlie!

  10. Ann Coleman April 17, 2024 at 1:21 PM - Reply

    I was wondering what the red was when I saw the photo!

    • Chef Mimi April 17, 2024 at 4:07 PM - Reply

      Either roses or pomegranate seeds!

  11. Raymund April 17, 2024 at 4:47 PM - Reply

    Your enthusiasm for Chef Lior Lev Sercarz’s latest cookbook is contagious! It’s fantastic to hear how much you’re enjoying exploring the recipes and tips he shares. The olive spread sounds like a delightful fusion of flavors, and I love the creative addition of rose petals and rose water. It’s always a pleasant surprise when unexpected ingredients come together to create something truly delicious. As always thanks for sharing your culinary adventures with us!

    • Chef Mimi April 17, 2024 at 5:19 PM - Reply

      He is pretty amazing. You should read his bio. The olive spread turned out so good. I was a little concerned…

    • Ben | Havocinthekitchen April 17, 2024 at 5:51 PM - Reply

      I love rose water and petals and use them often in my cooking. And I can easily imagine them in some savoury dishes, too. But I never would have thought of combining them with olives. How awesome! This spread sounds indeed wonderful, and it looks terrific, too. Saving it to try during the summer.

      • Chef Mimi April 17, 2024 at 6:34 PM

        Oh that’s fascinating! Good for you. You’re more adventurous than I am! I personally don’t think the pomegranate seeds are necessary, but see what you think.

  12. 2pots2cook April 18, 2024 at 7:29 AM - Reply

    This is really irresistible! Luckily, I have all the ingredients at home and will make it this weekend!

    • Chef Mimi April 18, 2024 at 8:25 AM - Reply

      You will love it!

  13. cookingontheweekends April 18, 2024 at 5:36 PM - Reply

    Hi Mimi! This is definitely one of the most unique olive spreads I’ve ever seen. The combination of ingredients is so interesting and olives (Manzanillas for sure!) are high on my list of favorite foods. I’m in! :-) ~Valentina

    • Chef Mimi April 19, 2024 at 7:30 AM - Reply

      I love olives, too! This combination of flavors really works.

  14. paulineandneil3147 April 18, 2024 at 7:29 PM - Reply

    Wow this is all so inspiring Mimi. I love the look of your olive spread, and Middle Eastern food. This recipe book sounds so interesting, it’s just a challenge to buy some of the ingredients here but there are ways. I’ll be rereading your post for your tips and book details. Thanks so much. I’m making Ottolenghi’s Lamb Siniyah tonight, on my blog, can’t wait to eat it.

    • Chef Mimi April 19, 2024 at 7:31 AM - Reply

      I’ll check out your blog! LOVE lamb.

  15. spicedblog April 19, 2024 at 6:32 AM - Reply

    I also love when a cookbook inspires me to head into the kitchen and start playing around. This sounds like a great book! And the rose petals in here are certainly a bit of a surprise – I’m intrigued!

    • Chef Mimi April 19, 2024 at 7:32 AM - Reply

      I know. I just had to make this recipe! And it didn’t disappoint.

  16. Healthy World Cuisine April 19, 2024 at 1:13 PM - Reply

    Rose petals and rose water. Would have never thought to add it and pistachios but we can’t wait to try this twist on tapenade.

    • Chef Mimi April 20, 2024 at 8:38 AM - Reply

      I know! The guy is a wizard with flavors!

  17. Frank Fariello April 21, 2024 at 7:49 AM - Reply

    How intriguing! There was a store close by that used to sell their house-made Persian vanilla gelato with rose water. It was delicious. I can (almost) imagine the taste of this …

    • Chef Mimi April 22, 2024 at 7:37 AM - Reply

      Ohhhh my that sounds incredible. These flavors are subtle, but definitely work well together.

  18. Ronit Penso Tasty Eats April 21, 2024 at 3:52 PM - Reply

    Very interesting combination, of olives and rose petals/water. I have to admit I’m not sure I’d try it myself, as it really sounds so far fetched. But reading your post I’m more sold on the idea. :)

    • Chef Mimi April 22, 2024 at 7:37 AM - Reply

      It would be farfetched if it wasn’t Lior himself who came up with the recipe. He’s truly a flavor genius.

  19. Gerlinde de Broekert April 24, 2024 at 10:14 PM - Reply

    What a unique recipe. I have used rose water in desserts and it adds a nice flavor.

    • Chef Mimi April 25, 2024 at 8:04 AM - Reply

      I was a bit hesitant, but it works! And it’s pretty!

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