Spiced Walnuts & Olives Recipe

Quick and easy party snacks from Napa Valley chef and cookbook author Cindy Pawlcyn.


2 cups walnut halves
2 tbsp zatar*
1/2 tsp sea salt
3 tbsp olive oil or sesame oil

2-3 tbsp olive oil
3 or 4 thyme sprigs
1-2 tbsp zatar
Zest of 1 lemon, in wide strips
2 cups oil-cured black olives

* Zatar, an herb and spice mix common throughout much of the Middle East, is used to season both the walnuts and the olives. The mix varies by region and even by cook, but thyme, sumac and sesame seeds are common to nearly every blend. Penzeys Spices carries a good-quality store bought version. You can also whip up your own mix. I use equal amounts of dried thyme, toasted sesame seeds and dried sumac. If you use 1 tbsp of each, you will have enough for this menu, with some extra to try in other dishes. It’s great on grilled corn with butter and lemon or lime juice.


Step 1: To prepare the walnuts, preheat the oven to 350°F. In a big bowl, toss together the walnuts, zatar, salt and oil. Pour the nuts out onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes, until nicely toasted.

Step 2: To make the olives, in a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the thyme, zatar and lemon zest and then toss in the olives. Sauté for 5-7 minutes, until hot.

Step 3: Serve the nuts at room temperature and the olives warm. You can mix them together, but I like to keep them separate. Remember to set out a dish for the olive pits.

See more recipes from Cindy Pawlcyn.

Reprinted with permission from Cindy Pawlcyn’s Cindy’s Supper Club (2012 Ten Speed Press).