• Yield: Makes about 4 cups

  • Time: 5 minutes prep, 10 minutes cooking, 15 minutes total

In this recipe, Nicoise olives are marinated in flavorful rosemary oil with masses of rosemary leaves, a simple technique that imparts a wonderful flavor to the olives and seems to intensify their own. The rosemary is cooked in the oil, so it keeps its green color for several weeks. Packed into French canning jars, these olives look like they were homemade in Provence. They make a perfect instant hors d' oeuvre with chilled wine or cocktails.


Because it is difficult to make the rosemary oil in small quantity, this recipe yields more than you will need to flavor the olives. It is an extremely versatile oil that can be used in salad dressings, on vegetables, ripe tomatoes and roasted peppers, pasta, mashed or baked potatoes, to fry eggs, to drizzle on foccaccia and grilled bread, and in soups and vegetable stews.


Nicoise olives are available in bulk and jars in the gourmet section of supermarkets. The olives will keep about 3 weeks and the oil indefinitely under refrigeration.



  • About 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil 

  • 1/2 cup fresh rosemary leaves (stripped from the branches) 

  • 1 pound Nicoise olives, drained and rinsed 

  • Freshly ground black pepper 


1. In a small heavy saucepan, heat the oil over moderate heat until hot. Add the rosemary and cook about 2 minutes until the oil is very fragrant; tiny bubbles should barely dance around the leaves. Remove the pan from the heat and let the oil steep at least 10 minutes before using.

2. Strain the oil into a small bowl, pressing the rosemary sprigs with the back of a spoon to extract any oil.

3. Place the olives in a medium bowl. Add the rosemary and 1 tablespoon or two of the rosemary oil to the olives and toss to coat. Add fresh pepper to taste and pack the olives in clean, dry jars.

Copyright 2003 Sally Schneider. All rights reserved.

Sally Schneider
A former chef, Sally Schneider has won numerous awards—including four James Beard awards—for her books and magazine writing. She is creator of the lifestyle blog Improvised Life, a featured blogger on The Atlantic Monthly's Food Blog, and author of The Improvisational Cook and A New Way to Cook. She has served as a contributing editor to both Saveur and Food & Wine, and her work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times Magazine, Saveur, Food & Wine, SELF and Connoisseur.