Marinated olives the Moroccan way: 6 ways of making “zitoun mchermel”

This post is all about how to marinate cured olives the Moroccan way. As I have promised in the previous post about Moroccan olives, I’ll pass on to you some of our family recipes on how to reproduce the marinated olives you find in the Moroccan stalls and Moroccan olive shops.

From left to right: Moroccan pickles, green olives with spinach and herbs, green and violette olives with harissa and garlic, plain pitted green olives
We have a few recipes which are so easy to make. So if you love olives, then you’re in the right place.
Harissa all the way!
I’ll be using 250g of olives for all the following recipes. I must say that the additions are all a matter of choice, so adding or reducing garlic, harissa, herbs is all up to you.
Green olives with garlic and fresh parsley and coriander in the making
Like I mentioned here, unpitted olives which are not floating in tons of brines are the best thing to get but if you really (but really) can’t then the others will do.
This is an amazing mix I bought from the olives guy, he mixed marinated green olives pickles and rice, This goes straight in sandwiches or is added to briouats and rolls fillings, to seafood bestillas…
Notes before getting started
1- Depending on how they’ve been handled, some olives might be harder than others. Nothing wrong with that. However, if you have hard olives in your hands (as opposed to soft), then make sure you place them in boiling water for 15 min at least twice then drain and pat-dry them before going ahead with the marination.
2- A pestle and mortar is much better to obtain the pastes used for the marinades.
4- These recipes are mostly to guide you to on how to get some of those pastes commonly used by Casablanca olive shops (If you happen to be there, grab a taxi and head to Benjdia Market (7 am to 5 pm) in downtown Casablanca or Friday’s market or Marche Jem’aa not far from El Houbous.
Today’s recipes are all in here!
250g of unpitted olives (ideally done by you)
Prep: 5 min – No cooking required
1- Olives with chermoula (any kind)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or in paste
  • 3 tbps of fresh parsley and coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 to 2 tbsp of preserved lemons with the core, chopped
  • 1 tsp of paprika
  • 1/2 tsp of cayenne or 1 heaped tsp of mild harissa,  or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp of cumin
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 3 tbsps of olive oil.
The soft black olives are marinated with chermoula made using a pestle and mortar (we were generous with the preserved lemons)
2- Olives with harissa
  • 2 tbsps of mild harissa or to taste
  • 1 to 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or in paste (optional)
  • 3 tbsps of olive oil
Harissa can be mild or hot. We prefer the mild version because it brings the flavour without disturbing the palate
3- Olives with thyme and garlic (goes well with soft Moroccan black olives)
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of dried thyme
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or in paste 
  • Enough olive oil to cover half of the olives (which I use for cooking or for salads)
  • Zest of 1 lemon (optional)


4- Olives with dried herbs and garlic (goes well with soft Moroccan black olives)
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of dried thyme, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage, bay leaf
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or in paste 
  • 3 tbsps of olive oil
  • Zest of 1 lemon (optional)
5- Olives with tuna and harissa (ideally with sliced the green olives)
  • 50g of tuna (in a tin)
  • The oil from the tuna (optional, replace with olive oil)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or in paste (optional)
  • 1 tbsp of mild harissa
  • 2 tbps of chopped pickles including cauliflower, green and red pepper, carrots, gherkins, cabbage (optional)
Usually, if the green olives and cut this way they catch more of the tuna marinade
6- Pitted green olives with spinach paste (chopped green olives will do as well)
  • 1 cup of poached spinach and squeezed to drain, finally chopped (poach in hot water for 1 min then dip them in ice-cold water for another minute then put them in a strainer)
  • 2 -3 tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or in paste (optional)
  • 1/2 cup of parsley and coriander, in fine paste using a pestle and mortar
  • 1 tbps of preserved lemons with the core, finelly chopped (optional)


You could more be generous with the spinach mix but this picture is showing the minimum you could go for
how beautiful does this spinach and preserved lemon green olives cone looks?



Mix all ingredients and keep in a clean jar for at least 48 hrs before serving. Keep in the fridge at all times.
The version with tuna should be consumed within 3 days. For the rest, anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks.
I can’t have enough olives in my house!

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