These bites of cheesy dough wrapped around green olives makes an irresistibly umami treat. They’re made with three kinds of cheese—feta, parmesan, and Israeli white cheese, or ricotta—and oh yeah, the dough is ridiculously easy to work with. In Israel, were savory pastries rule the pastry roost (though we like the sweet variety just fine, don’t get us wrong), these are often called “bayit la-zayit,” a rhyme that means “a house for an olive.”Yum
Look, I’ve been known to take on quixotic kitchen projects, maybe not as heroic as making a Carvel ice cream cake entirely from scratch down to the cookie crumbs (#respect #goals), but still, you know, homemade water bagels and lovingly sealed pierogi count for something, right? The thing is, there are times and moods for those days in the kitchen, but most of the time, there aren’t. Most of the time, there’s work deadlines and errands and hungry kids who reject the pierogi on account of the onions (how are you my child?!), or maybe just Knitflix. And these cheese and olive bites, I have good news for you, fall into the real-life category of baking. Very much unlike the pierogi, it takes two seconds flat to work this laid-back dough into a round around the olive. It does not take forever. There is no yeast. There are just hot minutes between you and cheesy olive-filled goodness.
Making the dough
The dough for these cheese and olive bites is made in a food processor. You can measure your ingredients directly into the work bowl (I put mine right on my kitchen scale and tare it), then blitz away. The dough will initially be crumbly, and then clump together into a moist ball.
Making the cheese and olive bites
Because this dough is so easy to work with, it’s easy to form it into small rounds that wrap thinly and flexibly around your olive. Pinch off a small amount of dough, about a tablespoon, roll into a ball, then flatten a hollow into the center. Tuck in the olive, close the dough over it, and place seam-side-down on a lined sheet pan.
Though technically the sesame seeds on top are optional, they are really sort of not. They elevate the whole thing, and are very non-fussy to get onto your little savory bites: just empty some sesame seeds into a small dish and dip the top of the bite into the seeds. They’ll adhere, no prodding or egg washing necessary.
Then it’s 20-25 minutes in the oven and you’re done.
Looking for more savory bakes?
- Middle Eastern-Spiced Meat-Stuffed Rolls – not exactly as easy as these bites, but still very doable and delicious.
- Mushroom Burekas – an Israeli classic, savory potato and mushroom filling baked in puff pastry.
- Savory Three-Cheese Pesto Muffins – because muffins deserve to be savory, too.
Cheese and Olive Bites (dairy)
- Food processor fitted with a metal blade
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour – 175 g
- 7 Tbsp butter, softened – 100 g
- 1/2 cup ricotta or Israeli white cheese (5%) – 125 g
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 oz feta cheese – 30 g
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 24 pitted green olives
- sesame seeds
- Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C and line one baking sheet.
- Measure the flour, butter, ricotta/white cheese, Parmesan, baking powder, and salt into the work bowl of a food processor.
- Process the mixture, which will become crumbly before beginning to clump together in one big, moist clump. The dough will be very slightly sticky to the touch and very malleable and easy to work with.
- Pinch off a piece of dough about twice the volume of your olive. Roll into a ball, then flatten the ball, making a little indentation in the center for the olive. Place an olive in the indentation and close the dough over it. Roll into a smooth ball.
- Dip the top of the dough ball into a shallow bowl of sesame seeds and place on the prepared baking sheet.
- When all the dough has been rolled into balls around the olives, bake for 20-25 minutes, until very lightly browned and still soft.