Thursday, 17 October 2013

Green Olive Tapenade Spread

Olives. You either love them or hate them.  Personally, I LOVE them; all colors, doesn't matter. Olives (Kalamata or other brined varieties) are usually a staple in any Middle Eastern household and it is very common to find them as a "side dish" in a breakfast, appetizer or main meal spread.  It's also common in other Mediterraneans as well.  We have a darling Italian cafe by our house that serves a green olive tapenade spread with some warm rustic bread as you wait for your meal to be prepared (I'll take that over bread and butter any day!).  Typically, tapenade is in a chunky form so when they served this to us I asked the waiter what it was. He told me it was tapenade but pureed to be a smooth paste.  I tried it and was hooked.  I ate an entire basket of bread (yes by myself) and finished all the tapenade and could barely even touch my meal. I looked forward to eating there JUST so I can eat the bread and tapenade.  I was set on trying to recreate this dining experience at home and I believe this recipe fits the bill.  I experimented with a lot of ratio of ingredients.  Tapenade is typically made with anchovies.  Umm, no thank you! I actually tried making it with anchovies the very first time I tried making it.  The taste was good but God forbid you to smell what it smelled like 3 days later! I'll spare you the details. So I decided to use Kalamata olives in place of the anchovies. Kalamata olives provide the salty pungency that the anchovy delivers but without the fishy smell. This will be a perfect complement to your Italian or Mediterranean themed meal and is a nice alternative to butter or pesto.  Your guests will feel like they are in a restaurant!

Combine everything in your food processor. I'm so fortunate to be near a Middle Eastern grocery store that sells PITTED olives :) 
Note: I made a double batch here

Tapenade is typically served in a chunky form. If you like this texture then you can stop here and dig in!

Otherwise keep pureeing until you get a smooth paste.

Serve with crackers, pita wedges or a warm piece of crusty bread.  
This tastes even better the next day!

Green Olive Tapenade Spread

1 1/2 C Green olives -Pitted
1/2 C Black Kalamata olives -Pitted
3 tbsp capers
1-2 garlic cloves (1 large or 2 small)
1-3 tbsp fresh lemon juice (depending on how tart you like -I use 3 tbsp)
2 tsp Dijon mustard or spicy brown mustard
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
4-6 tbsp olive oil

Option 1:
If you are opting for a chunky texture then you should puree or finely mince your garlic FIRST.  Then add the finely minced garlic in the food processor with ALL of the ingredients. After all, you want chunks of olive but not chunks of garlic, right?

Option 2:
If you are opting for the smooth paste, then no need to puree your garlic first. Simply just put ALL the ingredients in the food processor and puree away until you get a smooth paste.

Whether you choose Option 1 or 2, the end result will be delicious! This is best if made the day before if possible because the flavors will gel together and really pop. Enjoy with pita wedges, crackers or a crusty baguette.