Tapenade is a delicious spread made primarily from olives, capers, herbs, and olive oil. It’s most often used as an appetizer with crackers, good bread or crudites but can also be excellent on sandwiches or as a topping for grilled chicken or fish. I think it’s especially lovely with good mozzarella, provolone, or mild goat cheese to balance the intense flavor and acidity, but then I’m one that tends to think the right cheese makes everything a little better. All it really needs is a cracker, and you have a fantastic snack.
Before you go out and purchase expensive tapenade from the market, I want you to see just how easy it is to make yourself from ingredients you might already have in your pantry or fridge. Take the opportunity to impress your friends without having to go to much effort. You can customize it to your taste by using your favorite olives and herbs; basil, oregano, marjoram, etc. would all be lovely substitutions or additions. If you can’t stand anchovies, omit the paste and maybe add some Worcestershire sauce for that umami component. If you don’t have fresh lemons, try some red wine vinegar to add acidity. I encourage you to play with this a bit until you have something that pleases your palate. Taste, taste, taste, and taste some more along the way!
Tapenade will keep in the refrigerator for at least a few weeks, but be sure and bring it to room temperature before serving for optimum flavor.
Green and Black Olive Tapenade
(yields @ 1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 cups Kalamata olives, pitted (pits removed, in case this term is unclear)
1/2 cup Spanish green olives, pitted
2 TB capers
(rough chop the herbs below and pack tight to measure them in the tablespoon to get the right amount)
1 TB fresh chives, chopped
1 TB fresh thyme, chopped
1 TB fresh parsley, chopped
1 TB Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tsp anchovy paste (or 1 – 2 anchovy fillets)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (I might use a little less even, this was pretty bright in flavor)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
Prepare your herbs. When using fresh thyme, I like to just slide the leaves right off the tough stem with my fingers. Juice your lemon. Peel your garlic.
Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or blender.