An easy pork chops recipe marinated in maple syrup and balsamic vinegar, and topped with blueberry olive tapenade. A quick and simple dinner recipe for any night of the week!
This post is sponsored by California Olive Committee.
A couple weeks ago, I took a trip to St. Helena, California to learn about California Ripe Olives, along with 15 other food bloggers. We spent the duration of the trip at the Culinary Institute of America, where we met some of California’s ripe olive growers and packers. Did you know 95% of our nation’s olives are grown in California? I was completely astonished when I learned this fact.
I was surprised to learn green olives and black olives are one and the same varietal – the difference being black olives are cured with oxygen infused in the curing solution, thereby oxidizing them and causing them to turn black. There was much debate as to which olive was tastier – black or green. Seems everyone has a preference! Me, I’ll take ‘em both, but I tend to naturally gravitate more towards the green because I’m fiercely attracted to the beautiful color.
^Lisa et moi in front of the Culinary Institute of America.
The first evening, we all sat down to an incredible 3-course meal that was developed by Elise Bauer from Simply Recipes (I did a mega wobble-kneed happy dance when I read this ahead of time in the itinerary). Each dish (including dessert) incorporated California Ripe Olives..I’m not kidding when I say the Radiccio Salad with California Ripe Olives, Chickpeas, and Parmesan was heavenly – the BEST I’ve ever had (it wasn’t bitter at all!), and the same with the Pork Tenderloin with Figs and Olives (which says a lot, considering I’m super picky about my pork!).
After the meal was over and all of us bloggers mosied back to the hotel, a few of us stayed up and chit chatted in the courtyard with wine and snacks, which was purely magical! This is one of the most valuable parts of media trips in my opinion – bonding with the folks who you would otherwise only communicate with electronically, and getting to know my peers in real life.
The next day was all about olives! We heard from a few of the growers and packers themselves. It was fascinating learning how each person got into the olive growing or packing business, learn about the challenges of the business, as well as each person’s favorite aspect of the ripe olive industry.
^These guys know their olives.
Here are some interesting takeaways:
- Table olives are harvested earlier than olives grown for olive oil – olive oil olives need the extra grow time to generate more oil.
- Raw olives straight from the tree taste no bueno – they must be cured before they can be
- When processing olives, they’re sorted by size and color, then soaked for 7 days in a curing solution – the only difference between black and green olives, is O2 is introduced into the curing solution for black olives.
- Growers usually harvest about 3.5 to 4 tons of olives per acre.
- There are roughly 900 growers and 2 packers in California.
After chatting with the olive experts, Chef Paul Irving and Elise B gave us a tutorial on how to smoke olives at home. You guys, smoked olives are just about the most amazing thing I have ever laid mouth on. If you ever have a chance to whip them up at home, I highly suggest it!
^Elise Bauer whipping up a smoked olive goat cheese tapenade. SO GOOD!
Following the smoked olive sesh, we broke into teams and set out to cook using California ripe olives. I was so thrilled to work with Sarah from Snixy Kitchen, Lisa from Healthy Nibbles and Bits, and Carrian from Oh Sweet Basil. The crew set out an incredible table of all sorts of seasonal veggies, pastas, cheese, and meat. We were given free reign to pick and choose what we wanted to cook with (Iron Chef-style!).
The ladies and I fashioned up a pasta dish adorned in a garlicky brown butter sauce, with sun-dried tomatoes, peas, California olives, parmesan cheese, microgreens, a bread crumb + bacon topping, plus a side of beautiful roasted carrots.
We also whipped up roasted asparagus with an herby kumquat olive tapenade.
To say cooking with these ladies was inspiring is a complete understatement. I’ve followed all of their blogs for a long time, and seeing the creative process they go through to create, execute, style, and shoot a recipe was an otherworldly experience. Similarly, it was amazing seeing what the other groups of bloggers came up with for their dishes – I had to snap a few photos of their creations as well!
Now for this recipe for easy oven-broiled pork chops!
Using California ripe olives, I whipped up a maple-balsamic-olive marinade for pork chops, as well as a blueberry olive tapenade. It’s absolutely incredible what a few basic ingredients can do for flavor! This meal may present itself as time-consuming or fancy, but I assure you it’s neither – a very simple-to-prepare dish with the fancy appeal yet it’s purely practical.
Simply whip up the marinade in a blender, the tapenade in a food processor, roast some veggies (I went for the asparagus), and broil up the pork chops. BOOM! First class dinner on a humble budget.
Maple Balsamic Pork Chops with Blueberry Olive Tapenade
Blueberry Olive Tapenade
Prepare Blueberry Olive Tapenade:
Add the ingredients for the tapenade to a food processor or blender and process until a paste forms. Taste the tapenade for flavor and add sea salt or more lemon juice to taste. Transfer to a sealable container and refrigerate until ready to use.
Prepare Pork Chops:
Add the ingredients for the marinade (olive oil through sea salt) to a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer pork chops to a zip lock bag and pour in the marinade. Marinate at least 10 minutes, or refrigerate overnight, up to 12 hours.
Turn your oven on the high broil setting and move one of the racks to the shelf that's second-to-the top. Line a baking sheet or roasting pan with foil and place the pork chops on top. Broil 6 minutes, flip, then broil another 6 to 10 minutes, until pork chops are cooked through and the internal temperature is 145 degrees F. Top pork chops with blueberry olive tapenade with your favorite side dishes
*I used half black olives, half green olives - you can use any combination of the two.