Fried olives: Still sort of good for you

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My mom loves to tell the story of how as a stubborn child I once ate only olives for a week. I believe it, especially since my own child has the tendency to only eat Ketchup. Stubborn eating apparently runs in the family.

You’d think that a diet of olives for seven days would have turned me off the little morsels for good, but I still love all and any olives. I should have a frequent nosher punch card for the Byerly’s olive bar. But I must admit, it’s just not the same as in Israel, where olive trees dot the landscape and shukim are crowded with bins filled to the rim with glistening olives swimming in oil. You get yelled at more at the shuk than at Byerly’s, but it’s worth it.

Israel’s connection to the olive tree goes back to biblical time, when Noah sent a dove to find dry land. The dove returned carrying an olive leaf as proof that the flood waters had receded. The worst was over. Of course, the olive branch is also an international symbol of peace, and the fruit that these majestic trees bear have provided oil for lamps, cooking and purification for centuries. There are many varieties of olives, and all offer antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and heart health benefits.

Plus, they are delicious!

In honor of the Great Minnesota Get-Together, and one of the newest foods on a stick, deep fried olives from Fried Fruit, this month’s recipe pays homage to the perfect little fruit, the olive.

Crispy Lemon-Fried Olives
 (Recipe adapted from koshernexus.org)

Makes 20 olives

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 20 colossal green olives, pitted
  • Canola oil for frying
  1. In a bowl, whisk together the flour and lemon zest. Crack
the eggs into a second bowl and whisk until beaten. Place
the panko in a third bowl.
  2. Dredge the olives in the flour, then dip into the egg
mixture and coat with the panko.
  3. Heat about 2-3 inches of oil in a deep, heavy pot over high until it reaches
375°. Working in small batches (about 5 at a time), fry the
olives until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per batch.
  4. Skewer the fried olives in pairs on toothpicks and serve
immediately (I like them with ranch dressing- preferably Newman’s Own- Just sayin’).

(Photo: Roman Kriman, JerusalemShots.com)