Potatoes with olives Potatoes with olives Israeli Kitchen Photo: Miriam Kresh

Potatoes stewed with olives

Looking for a way to spice up the typical potato recipe? Look no further.

  • Yield: Serves 6
  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes

My neighbors and I cook at around the same time of day, and our cooking smells waft around the building. I stick my head out the kitchen window and sniff judgmentally. One neighbor’s food smells great, with sharp notes of onions, turmeric, cumin. Another’s cooking is so bland it depresses me. (Boiling potatoes again, are we? Don’t you get tired of boiled potatoes?)

Yesterday, everyone seemed to have potatoes on the menu. I looked at my potato bin. I was bored with them. I needed some potato inspiration.

Flipping through my cookbooks, I found an interesting recipe. Actually, it’s two recipes in one, because first you must prepare spiced olives, then add them to potatoes and cook them together.

The recipe calls for crushing whole olives with the flat of a cleaver or a mallet, then soaking them overnight. I didn’t have time for that and figured that canned, pitted olives would release plenty of their salt with a few good rinses. So they did. And the dish was very good. It has the advantage of being vegetarian. And the olives, you can serve and eat as an appetizer all by themselves.


    For the olives

  • 2 cups pitted olives
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • A large pinch of cayenne pepper and/or 1/4teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • For the potatoes

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 1/2 pound potatoes, unpeeled but scrubbed and sliced 1 inch wide
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups spiced olives
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley or celery leaves
  • The olive oil left from cooking spiced olives, or 3 tablespoons fresh olive oil


Spiced olivesSpiced olives (Photo: Olyina/Shutterstock)

For the olives:

Rinse the olives thoroughly, three times in cold, running water. Drain them.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or shallow pot, over a low flame.

Cook the bay leaf, garlic, paprika and cayenne or pepper for 3 minutes.

Add the olives to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes, turning them over occasionally.

Remove from the fire and let cool. Put the olives, with the bits of garlic clinging to them, in a clean dish. Keep the oil in which they cooked in the skillet. You'll need it again in a minute.

Add the lemon juice; mix.

You may store the spiced olives in the refrigerator for a week if kept in a clean, dry jar.

For the potatoes:

Cook the onion in the skillet where the spiced olives cooked, stirring over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of fresh oil if needed to keep the onions from sticking.

Add the potatoes and the spices. Don’t add salt – the olives will add enough.

Add water to halfway up the potatoes, and bring to a boil.

Cover the skillet, lower the flame, and cook the potatoes 15 minutes.

Add the olives and cook another 10 minutes, turning everything over once or twice.

Check to make sure the potatoes are tender; give them a few more minutes if necessary, but don’t let them get mushy.

Sprinkle the dish with the chopped parsley. Serve hot.

Adapted from 'Saffron Shores' by Joyce Goldstein.

Related Topics: Mediterranean, Vegetarian

Recipes from the Israeli KitchenRecipes from the Israeli Kitchen