Faux Green Olives, A Good Use of Green Tomatoes


green tomatoes and olives

Update 9.29.13: This recipe freezes well too, so if you’re at the point where you have a lot of green tomatoes because your tomato growing season is coming to an end, here’s an option for you to enjoy the fruits of your labor this winter. Thanks Beulah for the update about freezing this. I tried freezing this earlier this summer with the batch mentioned in the first update that follows, so it’s always good to see that I’m on the same page as my readers.

This is a post from 08.04.12, just about a year ago. It seems appropriate since I will doing this today. I’m running 50/50 with ripe tomatoes and green tomatoes. Yesterday was a bumper crop of green ones, Golden Milano plums to be exact, which are too small to make friend green tomatoes out. I already have some green tomatoes pickled, so this is the next logical step.  Enjoy!

As published 08.04.12 with slight revisions.

I’m a little busy right now, and unfortunately, the garden has fallen down the list of priorities. I will be a vendor at The 2nd National Heirloom Expo in Santa Rosa, CA, September 11-13, 2012. Shortly after that, I will be part of the international press covering, Salone del Gusto Terra Madre, in Turin, Italy October 25, 2012 – October, 28, 2012. Not to mention the day job, 2 hours commuting everyday, and all the activities associated with life, e.g. laundry.

My garden is not located on my property. I have a community garden plot about 10 minutes from my house that I have to haul everything to and fro, including water. Even though I store water there, the water still has to get to the storage container. I need approximately 60 gallons at a time. It’s a challenge. Especially with the water and with the heat and flirting with drought here in my corner of southern New Jersey.

Recently, I stopped by just to see what was up. It had rained, or stormed is more like it since rain just doesn’t exist with the new weather, so I was off the hook for a bit with watering. When I got there, a branch of a lush Ramapo plant, a New Jersey heirloom, had split from the force of the weight of the green tomatoes. My lack of time contributed since I didn’t keep up with securing the new growth to the stake, and then there was the power of the storm.

The tomatoes were too small to fry, and not really enough to pickle. Not one to waste the gift of food, I knew I could do something with them. So, while driving home with the green tomatoes, I thought, when in doubt, roast. From my harvest that day of ripe tomatoes and eggplants, I was going to make a fresh tomato sauce with eggplant, and to that, I would also add the roasted green tomatoes.

I remembered earlier in the day, I had bought some sigi olives, otherwise known as oil cured sicialin olives. They are dry cured black olives that soaked in oil. The flavor is robust and dense, and they can be very salty. The dry curing intensifies all the flavor and removes the moisture. They have pits, and for some, the flavor, is overwhelming. Good, cured olives in tomato sauce is always a favorite of mine with pasta, so now, the black olives were going into the sauce too.

I was all set in my mind until I started to cook. Always one to experiment, I decided to roast the olives with the green tomatoes. I would add  some Italian sunflower oil, which is superb, salt, fresh garlic, some fresh lemon juice, and hope for the best. As you can see by reading this, it worked because I’m sharing it with you.

When I cook, I never measure, that’s why I don’t bake. So, I can’t give you precise amounts here. But here’s what I did;

  1. Cut up the tomatoes into quarters, and placed them in a bowl
  2. Removed the pits from the olives, and added the pitted olives to the tomatoes int he bowl
  3. Coat with oil
  4. Sprinkled in some course sea salt, sliced 3 cloves of fresh garlic, and squeezed a fresh lemon into the tomatoes and olives.  I tossed it all together, and let it sit for about 10 minutes while the oven heated up. I used a counter top convection oven at 450
  5. Roasted them for about 12 minutes, removed them, and placed them in a bowl where I tossed them again.

When eaten together, the moisture from the roasted tomatoes, along with the oil, mellows the intense flavor of the dry cured olives while adding a slight tang, that a green olive would have. The textures blend into what one would expect from olives. Hence, faux green olives.

Since making pasta with black olives was what I started to do, decided to add the mixture to the sauce I created with french fried eggplants and freshly picked tomatoes. I love my garden.

pasta and sauceRight before the pasta was done, I added the mixture with the eggplant, which I french fried, to the tomato sauce, which I tossed with a wonderful organic, Italian glutten freen pasta by BioNataure. I have to say, I was very pleased.

Let the faux green olive mixture marinate in the refrigerator for a couple of days, and the green tomatoes really pick up the olive flavor. It makes a nice tapenade also. I’m so glad  I discovered this. I found another branch spilt from a second Ramapo plant. Can’t wait to see a ripe Ramapo will taste like. All in good time. Time now for me is lacking. Time though is a great equalizer. We all get 24 hours in a day. How we shape it into our own story defines who we are.




  1. Hi Jeff. I tried this recipe last year when you first posted it. It was wonderful. This year my tomatoes gave me a bumper crop of green cherry types, and I made this recipe three times. Because there was so much Faux Green Olives mixture in my refrigerator, I decided to experiment with freezing some. I thawed it, also, to test how it did. Just so your other readers know… it does very well with freezing. Now it will be there for me during the winter also. Again, thanks!

    • So good to hear from you again! We’re on the same page about freezing. I had a lot of green tomatoes earlier this season, and I did end up freezing some. Now at the end of the season I have more, and will freeze more. I will share your comment with an updated post on Sunday, 9.29. Thanks for taking the time to write back and the suggestion to share the freezing option with my readers.

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