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Cumin- and Lemon-Scented Green Olives

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Cumin- and Lemon-Scented Green Olives

Cumin- and Lemon-Scented Green Olives
New Media Publishing / Photography: Flat Art / Stylist: Abigail Donnelly
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total prep
Just a couple of easy additions transform ordinary green olives into something special. Plump picholine olives are prettiest, but there's no reason why you couldn't warm and season any green olives this way.


  • 1 pint brine-cured green olives, such as picholine or Italian, drained
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons grated lemon zest


  • Cover olives with water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer olives 2 minutes.
  • Drain olives and let them stand in a colander to cool to warm, about 5 minutes.
  • While olives are standing, toast cumin seeds in a dry small skillet (not non-stick) over medium heat, stirring, until fragrantly toasty and darker brown (be careful not to burn them), then transfer to a mortar and pestle and coarsely crush them (see cooks' note).
  • Toss olives with oil, cumin, and zest.
  • Serve warm or room temperature.
  • Make ahead: Olives can be seasoned 1 day ahead and kept chilled, then brought to room temperature or re-warmed briefly in a microwave.
  • Cooks' note:
    If you don't have a mortar and pestle, cool the toasted seeds, then put them in a small sealable plastic bag and pound them with the bottom of a heavy skillet or a rolling pin to coarsely crush them, or use an electric coffee/spice grinder.