From dish of the aristocracy to gourmet street food, here are the Olive Ascolane! Let's discover history, recipe and trivia of this delicacy together.

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Among the wonders that the Marche region has in store for us, an important place belongs to the cuisine and gastronomic specialties.

And stuffed Olive Ascolane are a mouth-watering culinary tradition that this unique land gives us.

Olive Ascolane, or Olive all'ascolana, take their name from the city of Ascoli Piceno - located in southern Marche, on the border with Abruzzo - and are a dish of pitted olives stuffed with meat, breaded and fried.

Olive Ascolane: the origins

An Olive tree

An Olive tree

Before being a culinary delicacy, Olive Ascolane are a variety of olive.

The Marche region is a land of olive groves, and among the varieties used in cooking is the Oliva Ascolana del Piceno DOP (Controlled Denomination of Origin), which is green in color and has tender, crisp flesh.

It is a typical cultivar from the Ascoli Piceno area and harvesting begins in September, when the fruit is still green and perfect.

Before they can be eaten, Ascolane Olives must be 'tanned' that is, processed to remove their natural bitter taste, then they are washed and preserved in brine.

At this point they can be enjoyed 'au naturel' or used to make the typical Stuffed Olive Ascolane .

The Story of the Olive Ascolane

Olive Ascolane

Olive Ascolane

History has it that Olive Ascolane were already on the tables of the ancient Romans and that the Benedictine monks of the Olivetan Congregation were the first to describe the 'tanning' of olives around 1500.

The earliest records about stuffing Olive Ascolane date back to the 17th century when they were pitted and stuffed with herbs. 

The current recipe for stuffed Olive Ascolane dates back to the mid-1900s when - the story goes - the cook of a noble Ascoli family had the idea of using the meat from the roast leftover from a rich banquet to stuff Olives. 

This new dish was immediately successful and became a specialty in use among aristocratic families. Over time the recipe spread to the people as well, becoming the symbol of the feast then, with the economic boom of the 1960s, it established itself as the family Sunday dish.

Today, Stuffed Olive Ascolane are a gourmet street food, perfect to enjoy in a foil while walking around town.

Olive Ascolane recipe

The making of Olive Ascolane

The making of Olive Ascolane

The production of Stuffed Olive Ascolane follows an ancient recipe and must comply with precise rules laid down in a proper specification dated November 14, 2005: the meat for the stuffing must be beef (40-70%) and pork (30-50%), and it is possible to add chicken and/or turkey for a maximum of 10%; then eggs, grated seasoned cheese, extra virgin olive oil or lard, dry white wine; onion, carrot, celery, nutmeg and salt are added. The ingredients for the breadcrumbs are eggs, flour and breadcrumbs.

It starts by browning the meat, cut into pieces, in extra virgin olive oil along with onion, carrot and celery and continues cooking over low heat with dry white wine and salt. Once cooked, the meat is minced and grated seasoned cheese, eggs and nutmeg are added for flavor. 

At this point the most difficult and delicate phase begins: the olives, pitted using the traditional spiral cut, are stuffed with the mixture, then dipped in flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs, and finally fried in plenty of olive oil.

Once golden, all you have to do is enjoy them either cold or hot accompanied by a glass of excellent Marche wine!

Trivia about Olive Ascolane

Fried cream served with Olive Ascolane

Fried cream served with Olive Ascolane

In the gastronomic tradition of the Marche region, stuffed Olive Ascolane are also part of the mouth-watering Fritto Misto all'Ascolana along with artichokes, zucchini, lamb cutlets and ... fried cream! Small cubes of sweet cream perfect for dampening the slightly bitter aftertaste of the olive.

After reading this article, all you have to do is plan your trip to the Marche region, but if you just can't resist the temptation to taste Olive Ascolane, you can order them directly to your home!

Discover Olive Ascolane here

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