Olive-Raisin Chicken

Photo by Nikki Bennett

"I think olives taste rotten," my aunt said as we were preparing relish trays for a holiday party. "Yeah," echoed her son.

I didn't say it out loud, but, in my mind, I was very disappointed by the negative influence my aunt had over her child's food choices. I think that if he weren't so heavily influenced by his mom, he may actually try olives and maybe even like them! Over the years, I've noticed he can be a picky eater sometimes. But he'll eat unusual foods – such as raw potatoes – if his mom eats them, too.

Working in WIC, I've had many conversations with parents about how their children eat. Some are very picky, some have waning appetites and some eat anything and everything. Having preferences is OK! Personally, I love sauerkraut but don't care for pickled beets (much to the chagrin of my husband). Parents have to step back and let children have their own preferences. We must encourage them to try new foods, but also give them the option to spit it out in their napkin if they find they don't like it.

As an adult, I'm still trying new foods and retrying old ones. For the first 20 years of my life, I didn't like blueberries  now, I do! I'm also trying new combinations of foods. I developed this recipe for Olive-Raisin Chicken after a dish at a little café in a tiny town in Minnesota. It is one that I typically would not have tried if not for the positive influence of my friends. Now, it's a staple in our house. The olives provide a salty flavor that contrasts with raisins' sweetness, and the combination is one I haven't found anywhere else! I hope, someday, my 3-year-old loves it as much as I do. 

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Recipe by Nikki Bennett, RD, LD


  • 1 pound raw chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup sliced green olives and juice
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1½ cups chicken broth
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 12 ounces whole-wheat penne pasta
  • Parmesan cheese to garnish


  1. Mix together chicken, olives with juice, raisins, onion, olive oil, chicken broth, garlic, balsamic vinegar and dried oregano. Let marinate in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours.
  2. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  3. Pour entire marinade mixture into a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Stir until chicken is cooked through and will flake with a fork.
  4. Serve olive-raisin chicken sauce over pasta. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.


Nikki Bennett
Nikki Bennett, RD, is based in Duluth.