Olive all'ascolana

This has always been one of my favourite antipasti, perfect along a good glass of chilled white wine while waiting to serve dinner.  I have never seen it here in Sydney and I was looking for the perfect occasion to try and make it at home.  And what better occasion than my series on Regional Italian recipes?  This is a traditional recipe from the region of Marche in the Central area of Italy facing the Adriatic Sea.  Specifically this recipe is originally from the town of Ascoli, thus the name “all’ascolana”, which means “Ascoli style”. It would be best made with olives from that area called “ascolane tenere”, which are big and sweet.  I have made them with the olives I could find here… I was lucky enough to find some pitted green olives which were quite large.  They worked perfectly well for the job.  The only small difference between this home made version and the original olive all’ascolana was that mine were a bit more salty, as the olives were kept in brine.  Next time I will keep them in water for a little bit before filling them to get rid of some of that saltiness.  Other than that they were very good and the filling was exactly as I recalled it.  You can also fill them a little more if you like and the remaining stuffing is great to make tortellini… believe me, I have tried it!  For my readers’ sake only obviously! 😉  Enjoy!


Recipe adapted from Giallo Zafferano

Ingredients (makes around 100 olives):
100 big green olives, pitted
100 gms – 3.5 oz. beef, cubed
100 gms – 3.5 oz. pork, cubed
100 gms – 3.5 oz. chicken, cubed
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small carrot, minced
1 small celery stalk, minced
½ onion, minced
1 glass white wine
Zest of ½ lemon
4 or 5 cloves (or 1/8 tsp of powdered cloves)
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 slice of white sandwich bread, blended
80 gms – 5 tsp Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated
1 egg
Flour, Breadcrumbs, Eggs (beaten) to coat the olives
Vegetable oil for deep frying

Put the extra virgin olive oil, minced carrot, onion and celery in a frying pan and sauté for a few minures on a medium fire, until the vegetables are soft.

Add the 3 types of meat and brown them well.

Add salt, cloves and white wine and let the alcohol evaporate.

Cook on a low flame until the meat is cooked through.  Set aside to cool down.

In the meantime, put the slice of bread in a mixer and blend it finely.

When it’s lukewarm put the meat mixture in a mixer and blend it well.

Transfer it into a bowl, add the nutmeg and clove powder (if you are using the powder instead of the cloves), lemon zest, 1 egg, finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano, the blended slice of bread and mix well until you get a thick and pliable mixture.  Let it rest for 30 minutes.

To fill the olives, make an incision on 1 side to open them and fill them with your fingers.

Beat the egg in a bowl.  Put the flour and breadcrumbs in 2 separate plates.  Coat each filled olive with flour, dip it in the egg and then coat well with breadcrumbs, pressing with your palm so the crumbs stick well to your olive.

When you have done this for all the olives, re dip them in the egg and coat again with breadcrumbs to obtain a double coating.

Deep fry them in warm vegetable oil, rolling them around with a slotted spoon.  Remove them and put them on a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain the excess oil.

Olive all'ascolana

Serve warm.

Olive all'ascolana

Olive all'ascolana

NOTE: you can keep these olives in the fridge up to 2 days before frying them, or you can freeze them.  Make sure not to overlap them in the container or they will stick together.  The best thing is to individually wrap them in cling wrap and then put them in a freezer Ziploc bag.  When you want to eat them, fry them from frozen on a medium-low heat: if the oil is too hot they will burn on the outside and remain cold on the inside!

Olive all'ascolana

Olive all'ascolana

For a list of all the regional recipes already published, click here.

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    • says

      Hi Eva!! I have never baked them as they are traditionally fried, but I looked it up on the web and it seems like some people do bake them. I have read of people baking the ready made ones that you easily find in Italy… though that crust is “harder” than the home-made one… it is like the coating of all the ready made crumbed products. You could try and bake the home-made ones too… maybe spray them with some oil so the breadcrumbs don’t burn. :-)

  1. says

    Che dire… esecuzione magistrale! Sembra una passeggiata preparare queste olive nel vedere le tue foto! Io le ho mangiate sempre in giro, sicuramente congelate e un po’ tristi, con il ripieno anonimo e misterioso… le tue invece sono stupende

  2. says

    It is a wonderful receipe. The only problem is that I had to cook dozens of them for my family as they look so easy and quick to eat.
    I will need plenty of time, but is worth to try.
    Thanks Manu,


  3. says

    Manu, these are stunning! Now I have an excuse to buy the big olives at the market. Gosh, if I had these for antipasti, I wouldn’t even want the main meal. These with the chilled white and I’m happy bunny land. Beautiful photos, as ever!

  4. says

    What a fantastic little bite! I’ve never had olives stuffed with anything other than cheese or garlic and these look amazing. Also love that they’re fried…that must really put it over the top!
    I’d like some of these with a glass of wine, please!!!

  5. says

    These look amazing. I have had the black olives stuffed and fried but not the greens ones. I know it wouldn’t be traditional but I could probably leave out the meat and stuff with the veggies and cheese. I have to try this. Thanks Manu!

  6. says

    No doubt these little gems are very addictive. I have never seen anything like this, but no doubt it is a delicious. It never would have crossed my mind to fry olives-but I am intrigued. Recipe saved-I can always count on you Manuela to provide me with something new and tasty. Thanks!

  7. says

    I haven’t had this before but will never forget – breaded and deep fried olives! It’s very unique way to eat olives. This is a much nicer appetizer than just the olives and definitely get lots of attentions. I assume it’s hard to stop eating once you eat one? I’d love to try this!

  8. says

    When I saw the first picture, I thought “yummy – fried olives”! But then I saw MEAT in the recipe and thought “what’s meat got to do with stuffed olives?!” Say what? I have to admit that you do make the tremendous effort to make these beauties well worth it!

  9. says

    That looks so scrumptious, Manuela! I loved the idea of putting an olive at the centre of each meat ball. The pictures are absolutely stunning! Have a great weekend…

  10. says

    This impresses me much!… I love, absolutely love, olives and this recipe is going straight into my bookmark file! Beautiful! Thank you for sharing. :)

  11. says

    I like it, I like it, I like it…
    Cna we make with black olives too? I know that some recipes have some ingredients that by tradition could not be changed. Just wondering if we can use both types.
    So, your suggestion is to keep the olvies some time in clear water to remove the salt right? Good idea, here our olives are very salty…

  12. Lisa says

    My husband is from Ascoli Piceno and he makes olive all’ascolana several times a year – just made a batch forr Natale. In fact, he will soon be selling them commercially. Your recipe is pretty authentic but one thing I need to point out is that using a pitted olive is okay for quickly making these but true olive all’ascolana call for the pit to be carved out of the olive, similar to peeling an apple in one peel. This procedure ensures that just the right amount of olive remains, allowing for nice portion of the meat mixture, and you don’t have a thick skin of olive. The olive peeling is the most time consuming aspect – we always say making olibe all’ascolana is a true labor of love! Also, my husband always soaks the olives in water for at least 24 hours, to remove the excess salt.

  13. Catherine DiFrancesco says

    I just love your version of Stuffed Olives. My mother was born in Asocoli Piceno. I was taught to boil the meat. but make them the same way.


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