Something Wicked This Way Comes – Fried Stuffed Olives

Fried Olives-1


Two kinds of cooks entertain at home: those who want guests in their kitchen, and those who don’t.  Fried Stuffed Olives are definitely for the former.  Filled with pork, salami, mortadella and cheese, these single bites of indulgence may be the perfect antipasto. In my opinion, they’re best still warm, almost hot.  Out of the pan and into the mouth, with only a minute or two in between.  That means people nearby, glass of wine in hand, paper towel at the ready.  Cook, drain, eat.  Fun all round.

You may have noticed that we don’t feature many deep-frying recipes.  We love deep-frying–especially squash blossoms with chevre and tapenade inside–but we keep it a rare treat, so that we appreciate it all the more when we do.  Deep-frying need not necessarily be the cardiovascular or carcinogenic killer that it has been portrayed to be, not if you select the right oil for frying, possess a thermometer, and pay attention to keep the temperature where it’s supposed to be.  Writing in the NEW YORK TIMES food section last week Mark Bittman did a fine job of explaining the ins and outs of healthy deep-frying. In a nutshell–pick the right oil and keep it at the right temperature.  If you want to know more, click on the link.

For readers who’ve ever had a drink and an order of fried olives at the bar at Rialto, and are wondering, Are these the same? They are.  One of the pleasures of Rialto bar anthropology is watching a regular introduce a skeptical newcomer to the olives.  Something wicked this way comes.  Invariably the newcomer tries one and says “Oh my God!” Ha! Happy Halloween!  Enjoy.  Ken

Fried Olives-8


Makes 50 stuffed olives

Makes about 50 olives


  • 3 ounces fatty ground pork
  • 1 ounce minced mortadella
  • 1 ounce minced salami
  • 1 lemon, zest finely grated, and then cut into 8 wedges, seeds removed
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1½ ounces finely grated parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ pound pitted green olives, about 50 olives
  • 2 quarts pure olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs


  1. Put the pork, mortadella, salami, lemon zest, garlic, paprika, pepper flakes and parmesan cheese in a bowl.  Mix just enough to combine.  If you want, cook a little of the mixture in a pan to test for flavor.  Add a little salt and pepper to taste.  I found I needed neither as the meats, cheese and olives had enough salt and the paprika and pepper flakes provided enough spice.
  2. Make a slit to open up the olive.  Stuff with a bit of the mixture, and then squeeze the two halves together. Continue until all the olives are stuffed.  Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil.  This will help the flour stick to the olives.
  3. Beat the eggs together in a bowl.
  4. Roll the olives first in the flour, then the eggs and then the crumbs in batches of 10 or so.  Transfer to a sheet pan.   Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  5. Put the oil in a heavy deep-sided pan over medium heat.  Bring it up to 350°F.
  6. Cook the olives in batches of 10 until golden brown and the sausage is cooked through, about 2 minutes.  They will bob on the surface when they are done.  Using a slotted spoon, scoop them out onto a pan or rack lined with paper towels.  Keep warm, if people are eating them immediately.
  7. Continue until all the olives are cooked.  After finishing one batch, allow the oil to come back to 350° before adding the next one.  (See my notes below.)
  8. Serve immediately or at room temperature with the lemon wedges.

Fried Olives-3

Fried Olives-4

Fried Olives-6

Fried Olives-7 Fried Olives-9

Fried Olives-15

Fried Olives-19

The temperature of the oil will drop after you add a batch of olives. Let it climb back to 350° before going on to the next batch.

Fried Olives-21

Fried Olives-22

Jody Notes:

There’s nothing not to like about these little babies, unless you don’t eat pork.  If that’s the case, use lamb sausage and a cured lamb or beef salami.  The filling for the olives is super simple, justa little mincing and grating.  If you want to skip the fuss and move directly to frying, use your favorite sausage for the stuffing.  Remove it from the casing and fill the olives as above.  You can fry all of these up and use them as the last addition to an antipasti platter, but to be honest, they never make it out of our kitchen.  We tend toward a very casual style of entertaining, and that means people hanging out where and when the food is cooked.  I have never had a guest who hasn’t been eager to step right up as these emerge from the oil.  

For more technical detail about deep frying take Ken’s advice and read Mark Bittman’s article.  From a practical standpoint, the most important thing is keeping the oil at the right temperature–350°.  Too cool and the olives emerge greasy, instead of marvelously crisp on the outside.  Too hot, and the oil will smoke, a signal the oil is breaking down, bad for the flavor of the olives and bad for your health.  We used evoo, but if you’re concerned about being able to keep things below the smoking point, use pure olive oil, which has a higher smoking point.  Which ever you choose, take your time when cooking, allowing the oil to come back up to 350° between batches.  People will wait.  

61 thoughts

  1. Hi Ken and Jody, what a wonderful coincidence.
    I just spent last week in the Marche region in Italy, picking olives.
    tuffed olives, or Olive ascolane as they call them, are one of the most popular recipe found in the éntrées.
    I had the chance to try a version that had a black truffles and breadcrumbs shell…heavenly!
    Thank you for this recipe.
    Have a lovely weekend :)

    • Lucky you! Your version sounds delicious! You’re the second person to comment on Marche connection. It’s not an area of Italy I know (except for its association with Aqua Cotta). Clearly it needs to go on the list. Ken

  2. I want to come to your dinner parties!
    I like to have guests in the lounge/dining room, but that’s because I’m usually in a mild panic in the hour or so before a dinner party starts… :-D Maybe that gets better with time and experience.

    • This is probably incredibly selfish, but because we so value the time when we can actually eat together at our own home we only invite people willing to get in the trenches with us. You may also need a few more disasters in your life, then you can tell yourself, “No matter how this goes, it won’t be as bad as…” We have plenty of those too. Ken

  3. These look fantastic, well done! I don’t know about the Bar Rialto … but … in Italy it is the Region of the Marche, and Ascoli Piceno in particular, that gave birth to fried stuffed olives, suitably called “olive all’ascolana”. The olives have to be those large ones from Ascoli. I adore them!!!

  4. This looks awesome! I love olives. Okay, not so much of a pork fan – snorts – you know considering *I’m* pork. But, we could use another type of meat… like cow. I like cow. Thanks – I’ll have to see if the humans can try this. XOXO – Bacon

  5. These sound and look so good. I’m thinking I may have had some fried olives in a restaurant somewhere but I’m not sure they were stuffed with meat. Is this a traditional Italian thing?

    • Hi, Ayako–I don’t know why my replies to you seem to consistently disappear. To answer your question, yes, it’s a traditional Italian thing. Italians from all over the country stuff olives with peppers, cheese, cured meats, etc. then preserve them in a brine. These are a little different in that they’re stuffed with preserved meats and cheese and then deep fried, a specialty of the Marche region. I think they originally ended up on the bar menu when Jody included them as part of a regional menu for the Marche. They proved so popular that she simply let them remain, even after the regional focus shifted elsewhere. When you taste one, you understand why. Ken

    • Oh, you’re the guy with his forehead down on the bar, murmuring, “More fried olives, more fried olives…” I wondered who you were. :-) They’re great for a dinner party–as long as the guests are too somber or finely dressed. Thanks, Steve. Ken

      • The mix is: cheese, mustard seed, rosemary, sage…and garlic…(just a very small quantity…if my son gets it, he will not eat them::)..if you refrigerate them before cooking, the cheese will firm up….
        I use the olives coming from Puglia (in this case)…and not those I can pick up in “the garden”…(just 40ha all cultivated with olive trees::)

  6. „Olive all‘ Ascolana“ – eine typische edle Vorspeise aus der Region Marken, und dem Pikenischen Gebieten, welche ungefähr an der ausgebeulten Wade, des italienischen Stiefels liegen..
    Glücklich sein können die, welche bei privaten Einladungen in den Genuss dieser kleinen Köstlichkeiten kommen. Selbst in der Region sind es nicht allzu viele, Restaurants die Sie anbieten.
    Traditionell wird Gnochetti di crema („Cremini“), d.h. panierte und frittierte Tortencreme-Würfel, die süßlich sind und angeblich perfekt zu dem etwas bitteren Oliven Geschmack passen sollen.
    Machen Sie es wie „Jody and Ken“, einfach ran an die Oliven.
    Eine Geschmackskomposition die überzeugt. :-) matai

    • Matai–What a culinary traveller you are! First I learn about the Marche connection from reader comments, now I’m told exactly where in the Marche they come from. Your alternative version also sounds interesting. If I ever find myself in the area I will definitely seek them out. Thanks. Ken

    • Thanks. Sure you can do a veggie version–just pick your favorite (relatively) hard cheese, not something that melts instantly or you’ll end up with a gooey mess. Putting a slice of sweet pepper inside wouldn’t hurt either. Ken

  7. Pingback: Something Wicked This Way Comes – Fried Stuffed Olives | goodthingsfromitaly

  8. Pingback: Aceitunas fritas rellenas de bacón, queso y pimiento rojo | MANTEL BLEU

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: