What do you do when you need a tasty appetizer, but the only things you have in your pantry are olives, lemons, garlic, and some herbs? –You’ll naturally make marinated olives! Extraordinary tasty, and so simple to make, marinated olives make a perfect snack or appetizer for ketoers or non-ketoers alike.
How to make the Easy Marinated Olives
For the marinated olives, you can use whatever herbs you happen to have at hand. You’ll find more tips on how to vary this recipe at the end of this post.
Also, the measurements are not that critical. Currently, I’m in Greece, where I took the photos and developed the recipe. Here I don’t have any measurement cups or measurement spoons, so I was just eyeballing and estimating the amounts. Well, with a few decades cooking experience, it was relatively easy. But even if you are a beginner, estimating the amounts is enough; no extract measurements are needed. This is not rocket science, this is cooking!
Just one hint, though: don’t use cutlery teaspoons or tablespoons for measuring as they are usually smaller than measurement spoons. When a measurement tablespoon measures 15 ml, a cutlery tablespoon measures often just half of this. Or, if you decide to use cutlery anyway for measuring, double the amounts.
Before getting into taking a closer look at how to prepare these marinated olives, I sincerely want to thank my Greek host and friend Stavros for getting me all the ingredients for this recipe. He went to great lengths to find organic lemons and the fresh herbs that I needed. His hospitality and kindness are unparalleled!
And now, let’s take a look at how to prepare these tasty marinated olives:
Take 1 small organic lemon, wash it, and pat dry.
Grate the peel — or if you don’t have a grater like me here — use a knife to cut the yellow part of the peel. Try to get only the yellow part as the white pith might give a too bitter taste. I admit, I have too much white pith here!
Cut the peel into strips or chop roughly.
Place the lemon peel into a saucepan.
Squeeze the juice from the peeled lemon into the saucepan.
Take about 1/4 cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil and add into the saucepan.
Add also 2 thinly sliced garlic cloves…
…and about 1-2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary.
Heat on low heat for 10-15 minutes, until the mixture is warm but not hot. Cover the saucepan with a lid while heating. Mix a couple of times while heating.
Place about 2 cups (470 ml) drained black olives with pits into a heatproof jar or bowl.
Pour in the warm olive oil mixture.
Stir the ingredients in the bowl or shake the jar to combine everything well.
Close the lid of the jar or cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and refrigerate preferably overnight to let the flavors mingle.
Serve as an appetizer or snack. The marinated olives store in the fridge for up to one week.
How I came up with this Easy Rosemary and Lemon Marinated Olives recipe
Well, I mentioned that I’m currently in Greece, translating my Finnish book into English. I have been concentrating on translating, but naturally, I wanted to develop and post my weekly blog recipe. I was thinking of a quick, easy, and simple recipe that doesn’t require much development—something fail-proof with authentic, high-quality Greek ingredients.
Actually, initially, I had three recipe options: marinated olives (because that was something very Greek), authentic Finnish gingerbread seasoning (because today it’s Finnish Independence Day), or scrambled eggs with caramelized onions (because it just sounded so easy and damn delicious!).
After some pondering, I thought marinated olives was the best option for the recipe, as the ingredients were the easiest to obtain, and the recipe was going to succeed anyway because, with those authentic ingredients, you simply cannot go wrong. I needed something that succeeds without too many experiments as I didn’t want to leave my Greek friend with his fridge full of my recipe experiments.
So, the main ingredient in my marinated olive recipe was naturally olives. Luckily, the Greek olives are the best in the world, so it was easy to get high-quality organic olives. I wanted black olives with pits, preferably Kalamata olives, as they make the best marinated olives, I thought. And they are simply my favorite type of olives.
I also needed extra-virgin olive oil for the marinade. In addition, I wanted to add a little bit of tang to balance out the saltiness of the olives and the richness of the olive oil. At first, I was thinking of vinegar — maybe balsamic vinegar — but soon figured out that lemon juice would lend just the perfect zing to my marinated olives. I also concluded that lemon peel would provide not only more tang but delicious and elegant lemon flavor. Lemon peel has a mouth-watering and much more all-round lemon flavor than just pure lemon juice. So, I could use almost the whole lemon in my recipe, well, at least the yellow peel and the juice.
Now, I had three ingredients, so there was still room for two ingredients to fill my 5-ingredient quota. One of the remaining ingredients could be garlic (can you even think of marinated olives without garlic!), and the last one would entitledly be a herb. But which herb? After quick thinking, I concluded oregano would be the best match with the other ingredients. Oregano is by far my favorite herb — and it’s also something very Greek.
At first, I wanted to use fresh oregano for the marinated olives, but since it was difficult to find (!) and there was just fresh rosemary available, I had to settle for rosemary. Well, I love rosemary and its characteristic, powerful smell and taste — that always reminds me of a spa for some reason — so I didn’t mind at all that I was left with it.
Now, when I had rosemary as the herb, I thought orange would make a great companion with rosemary instead of lemon. I actually was planning to swap the originally planned lemon to orange and use both orange juice and the peel plus rosemary to season the marinated olives. Even orange is not particularly keto, that small amount of orange juice wouldn’t bring too many carbs in the end, I anticipated.
After some pondering, though, I concluded that orange wouldn’t be able to lend enough zing and tang to the marinade. Salty olives with rich olive oil certainly needed something more acidic to balance out the flavors. So, I decided to use anyway lemons that I had originally planned.
Since I didn’t want to do too many experiments, I planned and calculated everything well. To really get the marinade as flavorful as possible, I decided to infuse the lemon juice and peel, garlic, and the rosemary in olive oil by heating the oil. Not too hot, though, as I wanted to keep the flavors fresh. For example, garlic gets a pungent flavor easily if heated too hot. Moreover, heating would destroy the important nutrients of the precious ingredients.
For my recipe (so no experiments this time! — and no exact measuring), I took 1 small organic lemon, about 1/4 cup = 60 ml extra-virgin olive oil, 2 thinly sliced garlic cloves, about 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh rosemary, and about 2 cups (470 ml) drained black olives with pits.
I shot the blog post photos while preparing the recipe. Here are some behind the scenes photos taken by my Greek host and friend Stavros Papadakis who took photos of me when I was taking photos for this post:
Here’s the recipe for you to enjoy:
- 1 small organic lemon
- 1/4 cup = 60 ml extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
- 2 cups = 470 ml drained black Kalamata olives with pits
- Wash the lemon and pat dry. Grate the peel or cut into strips (only the yellow part) and place into a saucepan. Squeeze the juice and place also into the saucepan.
- Add the olive oil, garlic, and the rosemary into the saucepan.
- Heat on low heat for 10-15 minutes, until warm but not hot. Cover with a lid while heating. Stir a couple of times during heating.
- Place the olives into a heatproof jar or bowl. Pour in the warm olive oil mixture. Mix the ingredients to combine everything well.
- Cover, and refrigerate at least two hours or preferably overnight to let the flavors mingle.
- Serve as an appetizer or a snack. Store in the fridge for up to one week.
|Nutrition information||In total||Per 1/4 cup (60 ml)|
|Protein||2.7 g||0.5 g|
|Fat||76.9 g||15.4 g|
|Net carbs||2.5 g||0.5 g|
|kcal||721 kcal||144 kcal|
Tips for variation
There are endless ways to vary this simple recipe. Choose your favorites from the list below and swap the recipe ingredients to those — or invent your own twist and tweaks:
- Finely chopped dried chili of your choice
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh oregano
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons vinegar (like ACV, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, coconut vinegar, or rice vinegar)
- Add other veggies to taste, like bell peppers, gherkins, mushrooms, or pearl onions
- Swap lemon peel and juice for orange peel and juice
I also made a version with thyme and orange juice. This time, I left the orange peels into larger pieces, so that they would lend flavor but you don’t have to eat them. I also added a splash of lemon juice and the last sprigs of rosemary I had left. It turned out really good!
I have to say I have had a great time here in Greece. I have been able to concentrate on working, so mainly translating my book. I’ve also done some Ketokamu-related tasks and worked on my linguistic projects, this time for the Javanese language. Yes, you can see that I’m a workaholic!
For a long time, I’ve started my days with a pilates workout and also ended my days with a pilates workout. It’s the best way for me to stay in good condition and also manage my neck problems. I prefer classical pilates, so the original 34 pilates mat exercises developed by Joseph Pilates.
Here in Greece, I’ve also walked long rounds almost every day. Well, there are restrictions due to the current situation — for example, you have to wear a mask, and you are not allowed to walk outside at night. However, it doesn’t affect everyday life too much. We have been walking close to the mountain here in Athens. Here are some landscape photos from our walking route:
Like I mentioned before, today is Finnish Independence Day. It’s also my dad’s name day and birthday. Often, we visit my parents for Independence Day but naturally, not this year when I’m here in Greece. However, to celebrate a bit, I made this Keto Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Mousse that is white and blue — because the Finnish flag is also white and blue.