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Think Outside the Lunchbox

Eating the same thing everyday can make lunch seem so "blah." Now's the perfect time to break out of the lunch rut and add some excitement to your meals.

Thinking outside the traditional lunchbox is easy with the right ingredients. Perk up your noontime noshing with fresh, seasonal ingredients coupled with kitchen pantry classics, like California Ripe Olives, which add a unique flavor and bold, distinctive color to any dish.

California farmers grow more than 95 percent of the ripe olives consumed in the United States. From planting, pruning, harvesting, and processing, they make sure that the highest quality olives come from their farms to your table - one can at a time.

Adding olives to any lunch can help bring California sunshine to each and every bite. Try some of these portable and packable recipes to add excitement to lunch on-the-go, and find more at

Greek Salad in Jars

Courtesy of Simply Recipes


3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste

Pinch of black pepper or to taste

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon honey

5 tablespoons olive oil

4 pint-size canning jars with lids


1/4 medium red onion, thinly sliced

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 large English cucumber, sliced

1 yellow or orange bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

3/4 cup California black ripe olives

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

4 small handfuls fresh baby spinach, or other dark, leafy greens

4 pita bread rounds, halved (optional)

To prepare the dressing, whisk together vinegar, salt, pepper, oregano, and honey in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if desired. Divide dressing between four pint jars.

To assemble salads, divide onion between four jars. Divide tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, olives, and feta cheese between jars. Pack remaining space with spinach, compressing leaves slightly. Secure lids and refrigerate up to two days. To serve, empty salads into bowls and top with dressing. Serve with pita bread.

Note: Store and transport upright so dressing stays on the bottom.

Maple Olive Cheesecake Bites

Nonstick cooking spray

1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs

2 tablespoons butter, melted

3 tablespoons sugar, divided

6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1/4 cup coarsely chopped California Ripe Olives

Heat oven to 325 degrees F and coat 16-20-cup mini muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. In a small bowl, stir together graham cracker crumbs, butter, and 1 tablespoon sugar. Place equal amounts into each mini muffin cup then press firmly into bottom of each cup. Working one cup at a time, press small pieces of plastic wrap onto surface and press crust firmly into muffin cups.

In large bow of an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, maple syrup, and remaining sugar until smooth; beat in flour and vanilla on low speed. Add egg and beat until combined; sir in olives. Spoon equal amounts into each cup. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until filling feels set. Let cool completely then run a small, thin knife around the edge of each to remove from pan.

Black and White Pizza

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for pizza crust

1 cup onion, quartered and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons roasted garlic, minced

4 ounces small baby bella mushrooms, chopped

1 package prepared pizza dough

1 cup prepared Alfredo sauce

1 cup smoked mozzarella cheese, shredded

4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, torn into 1/2-inch pieces

1 small boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped

1 can (6 ounces) extra-large California Black Ripe Olives, drained and cut into wedges

Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Heat oven to 450 degrees F and line large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add onion, garlic, and mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, 10 minutes, or until soft. Reserve.

Roll pizza dough into thin oval on lightly floured surface. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and brush lightly with olive oil, then spread evenly with Alfredo sauce. Top with mushrooms mixture, cheese, chicken, and rosemary. Sprinkle olives over pizza.

Bake 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and lightly browned around edges. Serve with Parmigiano-Reggiano.

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