I love tapenade. I’ve loved tapenade since well before I loved (or liked) olives. Which is sort of like loving omelets before you love eggs. I always had a fondness for black olives- the ones we all stuck on our fingers when we were kids. Those were great olives: smooth and black, uniform in size, and void of the pucker and bite that come with the Greek Kalamata olives with their small, pointy bodies and bruise-colored skins all glistening with oil and salt. Oooh I used to shudder at the thought of THOSE olives. Ahh I’m puckering up just typing that! And as for the green olives?? I never understood what the red thing was inside them. Did you need to remove it? Was it even edible? I would see green olives stuffed with garlic and mushrooms at parties and almost gag. For as many years as I can count, I remember thinking that the only olives for me were the ones that came in cans, not in jars. I think I was telling someone about how much I loathed all other olives at a party once while shoveling piles of tapenade into my face. Looking back it may have been humble pie I was using as the vehicle for the tasty spread I love so dearly, and that is made almost exclusively of olives. And by olives I mean, the bruisey, oil, pointy olives AND the green ones with red belly button lint.
Just FYI, discovering that one of your favorite foods is made of one of your least favorite foods is like discovering that your archenemy is actually your father. (Wheeze, wheeze “Luuuuuuuuke..”)It should have been obvious. I’m sure to most people it IS obvious, but before you jump to the conclusion that I’m frighteningly unobservant, or one of the duller knives in the drawer, consider that I was more than likely preoccupied with charming party conversation while noshing on my tapenade, and most definitely theorizing on something very deep and smart. Ok?
So, tapenade. What is it? Tapenade is a chunky paste made of olives, capers, herbs, garlic, anchovies, and lemon. Tapenade is served on crackers or crusty bread, and can be used as a base ingredient for things like Beef Wellington. It’s salty, flavorful, and ridiculously delicious. Oh, and it’s also SUPER easy to make, as I discovered this weekend.
Like I said, I’ve loved tapenade for as long as I can recall, and for as long as I can recall, I have purchased tapenade in teeny weenie little 3 oz. containers that usually sell for anywhere between $3.00 - $8.00 depending on the neighborhood. But really, all you need are a few pantry items and you can make a HUGE batch of this stuff for a party, family get-together, or a few weeks worth of sandwiches.
The recipe I followed for my homemade tapenade was from Alton Brown via the food network. And the super cute fish bowl I used to display our tapenade was from my sister, via her kitchen.
½ lb. pitted mixed olives (you can buy one 5.5 oz jar of black olives, and one of green, or save a couple of dollars and go for a big scoop of olives from the olive bar at many grocery stores.
2 anchovy fillets, rinsed
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons capers
2-3 basil leaves
1-tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Blend everything in a food processor until the olives are the size of pea gravel. Serve on toasted bread with creamy Brie, salami and a cool and bubbly beverage of your choice preferably out of Tupperware on a blanket at the beach, from an earthenware bowl in a log cabin in front of a crackling fire, or at a black tie event out of a fine crystal bowl. Tapenade is a versatile mistress and welcome at functions. Even when green and Kalamata olives aren’t on the guestless, tapenade is always invited. Isn’t amazing how GOOD your archenemy can taste when ground up?