June 1st was National Olive Day. This year, it fell on the weekend, when we often don’t publish.
But you won’t mind getting this delicious, easy recipe a couple of days late.
The bright and briny flavor of the Greek kalamata olive stars in this easy-to-prepare chicken entrée.
Accented with slices of tangy lemon and fragrant herbs, this dish gives that classic weeknight chicken dinner a marvelous Mediterranean twist.
Thanks to DeLallo for this recipe.
1. PREHEAT the oven to 400˚F. Combine the lemon juice, olive oil and garlic in a small mixing bowl.
2. MARINATE the chicken breasts in a resealable plastic bag or a deep dish, for 20 minutes. Be sure thee chicken is completely coated. Meanwhile…
3. PREPARE a deep baking dish with a thin layer of olive oil. Arrange the marinated chicken and marinade in the pan with the onion and olives. Sprinkle with fresh herbs and top with lemon slices (photo #1).
4. BAKE for 20-25 minutes until chicken is cooked through.
Olives are one of the oldest cultivated foods (here are the oldest cultivated foods).
Although its savory flavor makes many people think of it as a vegetable, it’s actually a fruit—the fruit of the olive tree.
The olive tree is native to the Mediterranean basin. Wild olives were collected by Neolithic peoples as early as the 8th millennium B.C.E.
The wild trees are believed to have originated in Greece, and were first domesticated in one of three places: Asia Minor, the Levant*, or in Mesopotamia (source).
Olive tree cultivation reached Iberia (Spain) and Etruscan Etruria (western Italy) well before the 8th century B.C.E. It spread to southern Gaul (France) in the 7th century B.C.E. Olives were pressed into olive oil by 6000 B.C.E.
The olive tree may be the oldest known cultivated tree in the world. It was cultivated before written language was invented. It was grown in Crete by 3000 B.C.E. and may have been the source of the wealth of the Minoan kingdom.
The Phoenicians spread the olive to the Mediterranean shores of Africa and Southern Europe. Olives have been found in Egyptian tombs from 2000 B.C.E.
The olive arrived in Greece, and then to Rome, where it was carried by Romans to other lands they conquered.
Olives came to the New World with Franciscan missionaries, in late-18th-century California. More recently, it has become a successful commercial crop in the subtropical climates of Australia and New Zealand.
*The Levant was a large area in southwest Asia: south of the Taurus Mountains, with the Mediterranean Sea as the western boundary, and the north Arabian Desert and Mesopotamia in the east. “Levant” is an English term that first appeared in 1497. It originally referred to the “Mediterranean lands east of Italy.” The historical area comprises modern-day Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria. Among other popular foods, Levantine cuisine gave birth to baklava, balafel, kebabs, mezze (including tabbouleh, hummus and baba ghanoush), pita and za’atar, among other dishes that are enjoyed in the U.S. and around the world.