Are you one of those eaters that can’t get enough olives? If so you’ve come to the right place. Here you’ll find a slew of delicious and savory vegan olive recipes — appetizers, salads, main dishes, pizzas, and wraps — using these versatile, briny fruits (yes, olives are fruits!).
Olives are small fruits that grow on olive trees (Olea europaea) and are classified as drupes, or stone fruits. They were most likely produced near the Turkish-Syrian border before spreading across the Mediterranean to Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Greece, Italy, France, and Spain.
Olives can be a savory and delicious addition to many meals and appetizers. They are a great source of Vitamin E, iron, calcium, and sodium. Here is a full nutritional profile of olives. They’re simple to include in your daily repertoire and an excellent addition to a whole-foods-based diet.
Despite the fact that California produces over 95% of American olives, it only accounts for 1% of the global olive market. Spain is currently ranked as the number one olive producer in the world.
Exploring the olive bar
The olive bar is an incredibly enticing place for those of us who love this brined fruit. There are other marinated delicacies alongside them including pickles of all sorts, mushrooms, roasted peppers, hot peppers, crunchy vegetable mixes, and more. Most well-stocked supermarkets have an olive bar in the produce section, so you need not go far to find one.
Olives are not as fatty and caloric as they look and taste. A generous serving of 10 olives has about 60 calories. Fat content depends on whether they’re packed in brine or oil, but in and of themselves, they don’t have trans fats or cholesterol and are low in carbs.
Very few people have allergies to olives, and they’re rich in good-for-you monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants.
Among olives typically encountered at supermarket olive bars are Castelvetrano, Kalamata, Manzanilla, Picholine, Niçoise, and Greek. The nice thing about olive bar shopping is that you can usually combine several varieties into a single container because it’s all the same price per pound. That lets you explore, taste, and discover your favorites.
Olive Bar Medley with Tofu Feta: Colorful and briny, small servings of this olive-rich appetizer featuring tofu feta go a long way. If you’d like to pair this up with one other appetizer, serve this olive bar medley with tofu feta alongside your favorite dip or spread, plus fresh sliced baguette or gluten-free crackers.
Spinach and Green Olive Tapenade: This green olive tapenade looks as good as it tastes. Spinach or arugula gives this classic spread a fresher, greener flavor and color than the more common black olive version.
Fiesta Vegan 7-Layer Bean Dip: This luscious vegan 7-layer bean dip is the perfect dish for any party! Make sure to serve it with plenty of chips because it disappears quickly. It’s a fantastic appetizer for game days, casual company gatherings, and Cinco de Mayo.
Spinach and Artichoke Salad with Chickpeas and Olives: Filled with color and texture, this spinach and artichoke salad is visually dazzling. With the addition of red cabbage, bell pepper, chickpeas, carrots, and cherry tomatoes, it’s a feast for the eyes as well as the palate.
Rice and Corn Salad with Black and Green Olives: A great way to use up leftover rice, this rice and corn salad with black and green olives is a great warm weather main dish. Lemony and fresh tasting, this rice salad is for olive fans.
Black Lentil Salad with Peppers and Olives: Hearty and substantial, this black lentil salad can also be made with brown or green lentils and is beautiful and festive no matter what kind you use. Try using black lentils, aka beluga lentils if you can find them, for a change of pace. These diminutive, gleaming black lentils contrast beautifully with red, orange, and green veggies.
Italian Bread Salad with Tomatoes and Olives (Panzanella): Italian bread salad, AKA panzanella, must have been invented as an ingenious and tasty way to use up day-old loaves. A simple, herb-scented salad that’s especially welcome in the warmer months, it almost goes without saying that for best results, use the most flavorful tomatoes you can find.
Black Bean and Tomato Salad with Croutons and Olives: This appetizing black bean and tomato salad adds color and crunch to many kinds of meals and is especially good with grain dishes and vegan quesadillas. You can even make it a main dish salad in the summer, served with fresh corn. It takes minutes to put together and gets its yum factor from crisp croutons and green olives.
Greek Salad with Artichokes, Chickpeas, and Vegan Feta: Here’s a lively Greek salad with artichokes and chickpeas, featuring a pop of flavor from vegan feta. You can buy fantastic vegan feta readymade or make your own with tofu.
Super-Easy Avocado and Bean Salad (Pinto, Red, or Pink Beans): For a salad that’s a little heftier than the usual lettuce and tomato variety, this super-easy avocado and bean salad is just right. Richly flavored with olives and cherry tomatoes, it’s simply dressed in lime juice and olive oil.
Simple Pasta Salad with Broccoli Cherry Tomatoes: Here’s a simple and tasty pasta salad with broccoli and cherry tomatoes that can be enjoyed year round. Feel free to substitute another short, chunky pasta shape, though the tricolor rotini gives this dish extra eye appeal.
Chickpeas and Green Beans with Balsamic Mushrooms: Here’s an appealing medley of chickpeas and green beans embellished with brown mushrooms sautéed in balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Though it’s meant to be served at room temperature, I hesitate to call this a salad. So, let’s just call it a cool dish that goes well with many kinds of meals.
Vegan Niçoise-Style Salad: Bearing its French elegance beautifully, vegan Niçoise salad is a composed dish that may look fancy but is incredibly easy to make. The traditional version is often made with tuna, but in this version, it’s replaced with baked tofu, which makes a great stand-in.
Main dishes & sides
Farfalle Pasta with Zucchini, Cherry Tomatoes, and Olives: Just a few simple ingredients go into this easy and tasty farfalle pasta with zucchini recipe that’s good served warm or at room temperature. Plenty of cherry tomatoes and briny olives provide bursts of flavor in every bite.
Spanish Rice and Beans with Pimiento Olives: Spanish rice and beans is one of those dishes that’s open to interpretation and doesn’t strictly belong to any tradition. This vegan version is a great choice when you want something easy and hearty.
Moroccan-Inspired Tofu with Apricots, Almonds, and Olives: Bursting with a combination of traditional Moroccan flavors—salty, sweet, and tart — tofu with apricots, olives, and almonds was inspired by a classic recipe from that cuisine.
Easy Gnocchi with Greens and Beans: Gnocchi with greens and beans, enveloped in marinara sauce, is a hearty dinner dish that comes together quickly. Gnocchi, a cousin to pasta, are Italian potato dumplings and pure comfort food.
Italian-Style Braised Chard with Tomatoes: Chard is beloved in Italian and Mediterranean cuisines, so it’s fitting to combine it with tomatoes, basil, and other ingredients typical to the region. Braised chard with tomatoes can be served as a side dish or bolstered with white beans or chickpeas.
Romano Beans with Tomatoes and Cannellini: Chard is beloved in Italian and Mediterranean cuisines, so it’s fitting to combine it with tomatoes, basil, and other ingredients typical to the region. Braised chard with tomatoes can be served as a side dish or bolstered with white beans or chickpeas.
Pizza, wraps, & sandwiches
Vegan Sweet Potato Pizza with Caramelized Onions and Olives: A vegan sweet potato pizza featuring caramelized onions, briny black olives, and a scattering of baby spinach leaves offers an array of flavors that work amazingly together.
Greek-ish Pizza (Spinach Olive Pizza with Vegan “Feta”): Enjoy the sunny flavors of Greek cuisine with this easy spinach and olive pizza, embellished with vegan “feta.”
Vegan Spinach and Olive Pizza (Red or White): This tasty and easy vegan spinach and olive pizza can be made with marinara or a creamy silken tofu base.
Olive Hummus Wraps with Greens and Avocado: Aside from being used as a dip for pita and raw vegetables, homemade olive hummus is an excellent base for veggie-filled wraps like these.
Pan Bagnat (Mediterranean Salad-Stuffed Bread): Inspired by Mediterranean pan bagnat, this hefty vegan sandwich recipe is an offbeat way to enjoy an array of seasonal salad ingredients. Fresh Italian bread is hollowed out and filled with a fairly standard salad that becomes something special in the presentation.
Contributed by Anna Fiore: Anna is a 2021 graduate of SUNY-New Paltz, majoring in Communications, with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in journalism. She is an advocate of environmental sustainability and clean eating.