Stuffed and Fried Ascolana Olives (Olive all'ascolana)

Stuffed and Fried Ascolana Olives (Olive all'ascolana) on a platter

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 45 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Total: 90 mins
Servings: 10 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
554 Calories
30g Fat
40g Carbs
29g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
×
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 10
Amount per serving
Calories 554
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 30g 38%
Saturated Fat 7g 35%
Cholesterol 154mg 51%
Sodium 903mg 39%
Total Carbohydrate 40g 15%
Dietary Fiber 4g 13%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 29g
Vitamin C 2mg 8%
Calcium 208mg 16%
Iron 6mg 31%
Potassium 408mg 9%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

These meat-stuffed, breaded and fried olives are a typical specialty originating circa 1800 in Ascoli Piceno in central Italy's Marche region. Allegedly, they were invented by the cooks of wealthy families as a way to utilize meat leftover from abundant feasts. Each olive is painstakingly cut away from its pit in a spiral shape, then reformed around the stuffing: a combination of several types of meat (usually veal or beef, pork, and chicken), sauteed with a soffritto, stewed in white wine, ground, and mixed with grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and a touch of nutmeg. As usual, the different versions of the recipe are countless, and along coastal areas of the Marche, sometimes the filling is made with several types of fish. 

Today, these stuffed olives are popular throughout Italy and are often served as street food in paper cones at fairs, together with other fried foods as part of a "fritto misto" or with other light bites as a before-dinner aperitivo. Traditionally they are made with the large, green, mild "Ascolana Tenera" variety of olive (Oliva Ascolana del Piceno), a DOP product, but as those may be difficult to find in some places, you can use any large, mild, brine-cured green olive (using pre-pitted olives makes the entire process much easier).

Ingredients

  • 1 pound green Ascolane olives, drained and rinsed

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1/2 medium onion, finely diced

  • 1 medium carrot, finely diced

  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

  • 14 ounces lean beef, or veal, finely diced

  • 5 ounces lean pork, finely diced

  • 2 ounces chicken breast, finely diced

  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

  • 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten

  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest, from 1/2 lemon

  • 1 pinch nutmeg

  • 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

  • 2 1/2 cups fine breadcrumbs

  • 2 to 3 cups frying oil (peanut or other high-smoke point oil)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Stuffed and Fried Ascolana Olives (Olive all'ascolana) ingredients in bowls

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  2. Using a sharp paring knife, carefully cut the flesh away from the pit of each olive in a spiral shape. Remove and discard the pits and set the spiral-shaped pieces of olive aside while you prepare the filling.

    Pits removed from olives using a paring knife, olives in two bowls

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Add the diced onion, carrot and celery and saute until onion is translucent and vegetables are softened, 6 to 8 minutes.

    Diced onion, carrot and celery in a pan on a burner

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  4. Add the white wine and cook for 1 minute.

    Onion, carrot and celery with wine in a pan on a burner

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  5. Add the diced meats and salt continue to cook, stirring with a wooden spoon until meat is cooked, about 10 to 15 minutes. 

    Vegetables with diced meats in a pan with a wooden spoon on a burner

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  6. Puree the mixture in a meat grinder or food processor, then transfer to a large mixing bowl.

    Meat and vegetable puree mixture in a food processor

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  7. Add the egg yolks, Parmigiano, lemon zest, nutmeg, and pepper. Stir to combine all ingredients well.

    Egg yolks, Parmigiano, lemon zest, nutmeg, and pepper combined with the meat mixture in a bowl

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  8. Take small pinches of the filling and wrap an olive spiral around each one, reforming it to its original olive shape, pressing slightly so that the filling holds the olive together.

    Stuffed green olives in a white bowl

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  9. Roll each stuffed olive in the flour, dip in the beaten egg, and then roll in the breadcrumbs. The stuffed olives should be only slightly larger than their original size. Don't overstuff, or they won't hold together. At this point, you can either fry the olives immediately or store them in the refrigerator or freezer until you're ready to fry them.

    Breaded stuffed olives on a platter, olives and breadcrumbs in a bowl, egg mixture in a bowl, and olives and flour in a bowl

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  10. Heat the frying oil in a large heavy-bottomed, high-sided pot until hot, but not smoking, and fry the breaded olives in batches; do not try to fry too many olives at a time, or it will lower the temperature of the cooking oil and they will not brown evenly or cook properly.

    Stuffed and Ascolana Olives (Olive all'ascolana) frying in a pan

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  11. When olives are evenly golden brown, remove the olives from the frying oil using a perforated metal spoon or mesh skimmer. Drain briefly on a paper towel-lined platter or tray and serve while still hot, with lemon wedges.

    Stuffed and Fried Ascolana Olives (Olive all'ascolana) on a paper towel lined baking sheet

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga