Ever since that fateful day so many years ago, when I discovered the snack platter at a “grown-up” party, and found that pitted olives fit perfectly like little hats on my fingertips, I’ve been an unabashed fan. What’s not to love? Compact morsels of briny, salty, and rich flavor, they’re just as suitable as a condiment as they are an hors d’oeuvre. Picky eater that I was though, my appreciation for olives was not all-inclusive; my love was reserved only for black olives, while the green variety received only the cold shoulder. Another nonsensical food prejudice for sure, this one had to be tackled head-first, which is why the offer to review a small selection of Lindsay Olives couldn’t have come at a better time. Having been independently buying the seasoned black olives for months already, I knew this would be the best shot I had at finding a place in my heart for green olives too.
It became quickly apparent that this wouldn’t be a difficult task. Mottled green with brown speckles, these shiny and earthy ovals have a very mildly briny flavor- Mellow, but with a certain smoothness and an unexpected buttery undertone. A very agreeable olive, it hits all the right salty and addictive notes, without being the least bit aggressive. It pains me to have searched high and low for these olives ever since that first sample, to no avail. After trying another brand of green olives and being positively repulsed by those tasteless, unpleasantly crunchy marbles, I can definitely say that not all olives are created equal.
While still possessing an ample supply however, I couldn’t help but play a bit with my bounty. Lucking out on a small stash of eight-ball zucchini meant stuffed squash was on the menu, and olives sounded like the perfect accent flavor for the filling. Greek-inspired seasonings pull together this unusual combination of olives, white beans, artichokes, and spinach beautifully, and set these stuffed zukes apart from the rest. To lend more of a fresh, summery flavor, they would also be fantastic with a smattering of vegan pesto instead of my suggested spices. Don’t be afraid to play around with this one- It would also be quite excellent with black olives, if you haven’t yet found the green olive of your dreams.
Stuffed Eight-Ball Zucchini
6 – 8 Round (Eight-Ball) Zucchini
1 Cup Cooked White Beans
1 Cup Pitted Green Olives
1/2 Cup Chopped White Onion
1/2 Cup Marinated Artichoke Hearts, Drained and Roughly Chopped
2 Cups Packed Fresh Spinach
2 Cloves Garlic
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Coriander
Pinch Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Dried Dill
Salt and Pepper, to Taste
Marinara Sauce or Your Favorite Tomato Sauce, to Serve
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Cut a thin slice off the tops of the zucchini, including the stems, and either reserve for garnish or discard. Using a small spoon with a sharp edge (such as a grapefruit spoon) or a melon baller, scoop out the fleshy innards, being careful not to scrape the walls of the zucchini too thin, and toss it into your food processor.
To the food processor, add in all of the remaining ingredients except for the salt, and give it a whirl. Don’t process it until completely smooth, but pulse slowly until everything is broken down and the mixture is pleasingly chunky. Give it a taste before adding salt; because the olives have so much salt to them already, you may not need it at all.
Generously mound the stuffing in the hollow zucchini cups, and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until the filling is lightly browned and the zucchinis themselves are fork-tender. They’re delicious served hot or at room temperature, alongside a smattering if your favorite tomato sauce.
*You could very happily use standard, long zucchini here, too. Just split them lengthwise, remove the interiors as before, and par-bake them, empty, for 10 – 15 minutes (depending on size) before filling and baking as previously instructed.
Serves 6 – 8
PS, if you really want to up the olive ante, enjoy this meal with a dirty martini!