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~ Briny, Garlicy & Herbaceous Greek-Olive Tapenade ~

IMG_1521My pantry and/or refrigerator are never without a can or two of inexpensive, mild-flavored ripe, black olives and a big jar of tangy green pimiento-stuffed olives too.  Throughout the year, I toss either one or both, whole into garden salads, or, slice and use them to top an occasional pizza. That said, at the end of a long Summer's day, there is nothing like a well-chilled cocktail out on the deck with a salty snack to nibble on.  A cracker or two with a slather of soft brie or chèvre topped with a dollop of tapenade is a favorite, but, I don't reach for my generic go-to olives to make it.

When I'm making tapenade, I raise the bar and use a combination of two Greek-style olives:  briny black kalamata and garlic-stuffed green.  When it comes to tapenade, higher-quality fruit does make a difference, and, while tapenade is traditionally only made from black olives (kalamata or niçoise), I like the slight astringency that garlic-stuffed green olives bring to this nosh.  It only takes me 5-10 minutes to make tapenade, but I always do it first thing in the morning, to give all the flavors time to marry until cocktail hour, and, I also make enough to enjoy all week long.    

IMG_1522Olive tapenade, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways:

This easy-to-make salty, briny condiment atop a cracker or a baguette slice brings out the flavor in a glass of vino, and, pairs perfectly with martinis and an array of cocktails too.  It's a welcome addition to any cheese tray or charcuterie board, and, it's divine in the center of a French-style omelette or atop a classic deviled egg.  This relish is not shy about being used to top a humble hot dog or hamburger, get stirred into an ordinary pasta salad or used as a topper for poached poultry or fish dishes.  That said, tapenade is often confused with New Orleans olive salad, a critical component of the iconic muffalata sandwich -- seriously, the two are quite different.  Olive salad is a giardiniera and contains cauliflower, carrots and celery and no capers.

IMG_1539"Tapenade" derives from the Provençal word for caper, "tapeno".

Hailing from the Mediterranean and dating back to Roman times, a traditional tapenade contains few ingredients:  black olives, caper berries, anchovies, garlic, olive oil, pepper, an occasional herb and/or a squirt of fresh lemon.  The texture of tapenade is personal, ranging from puréed or pounded to a paste, to finely-minced or slightly chunky.  The tools of the trade used to achieve the desired texture range from the ancient mortar and pestle to the ordinary chef's knife and/or the high-tech food processor.  Tapenade should be allowed to rest a few hours prior to serving at room temperature, and, when stored in the refrigerator, the oil will preserve it for up to a month.

IMG_14561  9 1/2-10-ounce jar pitted, black kalamata olives, well-drained

1  9 1/2-10-ounce jar pitted, green garlic-stuffed olives, well-drained

1  2-ounce tin rolled anchovy fillets, with capers, packed in olive oil, undrained

2  tablespoons drained capers

1  teaspoon each: dried herbes de Provence and minced fresh thyme leaves

1  teaspoon fresh lemon juice

2-4  tablespoons fruity olive oil

1/2  teaspoon sea salt

3/4  teaspoon coarse-grind black pepper

IMG_1458 IMG_1458 IMG_1458 IMG_1458~Step 1.  Place the black and green olives in a colander to drain thoroughly, about 3-5 minutes. Place the drained olives in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade along with the undrained anchovies and the drained capers.  Trust me, this is not too many anchovies.

IMG_1470 IMG_1470 IMG_1470 IMG_1470~Step 2.  Measure, mince and add the dried and fresh herbs, the lemon juice and the olive oil.

IMG_1479 IMG_1479 IMG_1479 IMG_1479 IMG_1479~Step 3.  Season with the salt and pepper.  Place the lid on the processor. Using a series of 25-30 rapid on-off pulses, process until mixture is minced and mixed.  If a finer consistency is desired, pulse a few more times. Transfer to a 4-cup food-storage container, cover and set aside several hours (4-6) for flavors to marry.  Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Roasted garlic bread & gruyère crostini w/olive tapenade:

IMG_1557Bacon, Lettuce, Tapenade & Chicken Club Sandwich:

IMG_1588Greek Pasta Salad w/Tapenade, Tuna & Tomato:

IMG_1644Mediterranean-style Olive Tapenade & Feta Omelette:

IMG_1735Herbaceous Black & Green Greek-Olive Tapenade:  Recipe yields about 3 1/2 cups tapenade.

Special Equipment List:  colander; cutting board; chef's knife; food processor; 4-cup food-storage container w/tight-fitting lid

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c8255ff1970b-800wiCook's Note: This mouthwatering crostini recipe pairs perfectly with tapenade.  The two complement a host of foods, and, can be served at casual or upscale gatherings.  Both pair well with cocktails, as well as red or white wine.  They can be passed prior to an entrée of fish, seafood, poultry, porcine or meat. They too are meatless, which makes them great for meatless meals, certain religious holidays, and, entertaining vegetarian friends. There's more.  They're are, easy to make:  ~ Meatless Mushroom Duxelles & Gruyère Crostini ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)


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