How to make Terrific Tapenade

Across back yards everywhere this past Memorial Day, grills blazed at the unofficial start of summer. And while I enjoyed some freshly cut barbecue chicken myself, my thoughts – and taste buds – turned to something much different yet absolutely perfect for this eating season: Tapenade.

Tapenade is an olive-based dish that can be served on top of crusty bread, as a dip for vegetables, or even as a spread on sandwiches in place of mayonnaise.

It’s a dish that has a fancy name and one that you may think is hard to prepare, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. If you have a can opener, a food processor and 10 minutes, you can make tapenade.

Most tapenades are made with regular black olives like those commonly found in cans, but by all means, if you love green olives, give it a whirl. Kalamata olives could also make a delightful version. In addition to the olives, we’ll add garlic, capers, dried herbs, a splash of lemon juice and one other main thing. Anchovies.

OK, I just saw your nose wrinkle. Please don’t do that. Give these little fish a chance. Anchovies bring a wonderful salty, meaty quality to this dish, and once rinsed well of their brine, you may find you like them well enough to eat on their own (or at least surrounded by cheese on pizza). If you really aren’t ready for anchovies, this tapenade will still taste great. But it will be better with them in the mix.

We’ll serve our delicious tapenade on a warm, crunchy crostini. There’s another fancy word. All it is, is thinly sliced bread that has been baked until it is crisp. If you have the grill going, you can even grill the bread and let it take on some smokiness.

Now grab a fresh loaf of bread and let’s turn out some tapenade.

Terrific Tapenade on Crunchy Crostini

Makes 4-6 servings

  • Fresh loaf of bread of your choice
  • 2 cans (drained weight of 6 ounces each) of pitted, ripe black olives, drained
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • 2 anchovy filets, rinsed
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Garnish: Fresh Italian parsley
  • Music to make it by: The Beach Boys, Sounds of Summer

Step 1: Slice the bread thinly and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. I like French bread, but sourdough is good, too. You can find fresh bread in the bakery section of most markets. They are sold in long beams that look like baseball bats. When the oven reaches its temperature, put the bread in, baking for a few minutes until they are crisp. Even a toaster oven works for this. Alternately, you could slap them on a grill. There, you just made crostini.

Step 2: For the tapenade, gather the rest of the ingredients and put everything except the olive oil into the food processor.

Step 3: Pulse the processor until the texture is finely chopped. Now taste the mixture and adjust seasonings, adding extra herbs, lemon juice or black pepper, if you wish. I like red pepper flakes for some heat. Drizzle in the olive oil and pulse until it has a consistency you like, which can range from finely chopped to a paste.

Congratulations: You’ve just made a killer appetizer or side dish. All that’s left is to spread the tapenade on the warm crostini, garnish with fresh parsley, and enjoy a taste of the Mediterranean.

Have your own tips or questions on how to make terrific tapenade?  Share in the comments below!

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