Friday, August 12, 2016

Olive tapenade

While the late evenings are graced with some warmth in the air and light in the horizon, it is only right to grab every last opportunity to enjoy the outdoors with a chilled drink and some tasty tidbits. This ten-minute-put-together spread makes for the perfect drinking partner.
Tapenade is made with the saltiest of ingredients and pairs very well with the bold earthy Zinfandel, or the citrus Reisling, even Pastis (anise-flavored liqueur, particularly popular in Provence). Crackers or crostini are a must, but serve it with cheese (aged cheddar, or blue) for even more oomph.

Here is a quick overview of all you need to keep in mind while making tapenade-
  1. The principal ingredient is olives (traditionally small black olives are used) and I prefer to use the earthy Kalamata olives that have been preserving in oil. 
  2. The other salty ingredient and an important one is capers. Capers are salty, pea-sized dark green pickled flower buds. It’s a good idea to rinse them first, to remove all the excess brine. 
  3. Anchovies are also a must. I omit these as there are a few vegetarians in the house. But if you have no such restriction add 2 small anchovies to the recipe below. Make sure to rinse off excess salt first.
  4. We love garlic and so in it goes. You can reduce the quantity if you are not such a fan as it does tend to over power the flavor. 
  5. Traditional recipe calls for parsley as the principal herb but I like to use rosemary with its woodsy scent.
  6. The twang comes from fresh lime juice. Balsamic vinegar also goes well, so take your pick.
  7. I love to add a bit of walnuts to enhance that nutty earthy flavor. It adds the nuttiness as well as a slight texture. 
  8. I use my mortar and pestle to blend all these together as I like my tapenade a bit chunky. You can also chop everything all rustic-like if you prefer. If you like a fine texture then pulse a few times in your food processor. 
Tapenade is very versatile and can be used in many ways rather than just as a spread on crackers. Spread it on a sandwich instead of mayo, dollop onto a hard boiled egg or in between an omelette, spread on your toast in the morning topped with sliced avocado, toss it in pasta with chunks of feta cheese mmmm yummm, stuff in between chicken breast or thighs before roasting. Anyway you use it, this spread won't last long. 

Ingredients: (Yeilds 1 cup)
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
2 tbsp capers
1/4 cup walnuts
2 cloves garlic
2 T fresh rosemary, chopped fine
1-2 T extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 t fresh lime juice
  1. Combine olives, capers, walnuts, garlic and rosemary in a food processor. Pulse until all the ingredients mash up enough to form a thickish paste, but you should still see small pieces of walnuts and olives. Mostly I use my mortar and pestle to do this as I like my tapenade a bit chunky. If you prefer a finer consistency pulse a few times more in your food processor. 
  2. Add rosemary and season with lime juice and pepper. Drizzle olive oil over the mixture and combine to form a spreadable concoction. 
  3. Serve as a dip or spread with crostini or crackers. I also love it on my toast for breakfast. 
  4. Store in the refrigerator in an air tight container for up to 10 days. 

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