The source of this recipe for chicken with olives and tomatoes will probably surprise you. It’s a North African recipe from a Jewish cookbook. You probably think of lox and bagels and matzo balls when you think of Jewish cuisine, but it’s really far more varied than that. This is just one example. My recipe for Moroccan chicken and bean soup was adapted from the same cookbook.
This recipe looks a bit complicated, but it really isn’t. The flavors of the chicken, olives, garlic, and a bit of ginger make it rich and delicious (with a hint of spiciness). It’s not a super quick meal though, so save it for when you have more time (or on a weekend).
Castelvetrano olives, by the way, are far different from the sad specimens you get in a can. They’re firm, bright green, sweet, and buttery, almost like a fruit. I thought I hated olives, until I happened to try these (they were an amuse bouche at a restaurant). The restaurant is now gone, but the olives are still here! If you can’t find those, try cerignola olives. They are large, salty/sweet, bright green, and great for snacking or cooking.
Tools and Ingredients for Chicken with Olives and Tomatoes
Soak this in a bit of hot water before you use it. Saffron adds a flavor that’s hard to describe, as well as beautiful reddish-yellow color. Use it for Moroccan dishes (like this one), or for Indian food. Just a tiny bit will do the trick.
Use the olives for this chicken dish, or the pasta recipe below. They’re also great with an antipasto platter. Or, add some olive oil, garlic, and rosemary, and marinate them. Serve that with a cheese platter.
This is part cookbook and part travel diary. The author includes brief histories of the communities that created the dishes, and how they adapted local cuisine to suit religious restrictions. There’s recipes for the expected kugel, split pea soup, and chopped liver. But then it goes off to Spain, Baghdad, and India. From there you get leek meatballs, eggplant fritters, chicken with rice croquettes, borekas, lamb with raisins and almonds, and pumpkin kofta curry.