All of my friends like olives. It’s a bit odd, but I think I could have a dinner party with nothing but bread, wine, and olives and everyone would be perfectly content. When I recently made a batch of this tapenade for a Sunday dinner at my mother’s house it was as if I’d brought a pot of gold instead of a small crock of olive spread. Call it olive crack.
In fact, while I was in Cambodia, my husband posted this on Facebook, “Kristina has only been in Cambodia since Saturday, so it looks like cold chicken and olive tapenade on English muffins for dinner tonight. What will I do when there’s no more tapenade?”
Sigh. Really? That’s what he eats when I’m gone?
I’ve been making a version of this for at least the last 15 years and for some reason it fell off my radar for a while, replaced by home-cured olives or exotic ones purchased from my favorite Middle East market. I think it’s going to go back into heavy rotation however because it’s a very versatile ingredient as well as being a great thing to spread on a slice of toasted baguette.
It can be turned into a pasta sauce, used to top a baked potato, made into a vinaigrette (tasty on fish or a salad), or made into a sandwich (muffaletta anyone?). In fact, I made a fantastic vegetarian sandwich with toasted whole wheat bread, Swiss cheese, the last of my garden tomatoes, avocado, and a thick layer of olive tapenade.
How to Make Olive Tapenade and how to roast a bell pepper
Servings: 3.5 cups
1cuplarge green olivespitted
1eachred bell pepperroasted and cut into 1" pieces (see instructions below)
Put the olives, capers, garlic, and peppers into the Cuisinart. Pulse in 1 second intervals 10-15 times. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the herbs, lemon juice and olive oil. Pulse another 10 times or so, stopping in the middle to scrape down the sides of the bowl. In the end, you want the pieces to be 1/8" to 1/4 " in size and you want to see all the colors of the olives and peppers. Be careful not to over-process it or it will turn into a smooth gray/brown paste.
Tools needed: Cuisinart or another food processor. If you don't have one, you can chop everything very fine by hand, it will just take you longer. Notes: This tapenade is an easy option for something to bring to a holiday party or potluck and makes quite a bit (about 3.5 cups of tapenade). The recipe can be cut in half, but it also keeps for a few weeks in the refrigerator in an airtight container. You can use any kind of olives you like but I selected these three because they are easy to find in just about any grocery store and they offer a nice mix of color and a balance of flavors between mild and salty.
How to Roast a Pepper
It’s really very simple to roast a pepper and there’s no need to buy the ones which come in jars if you have a few minutes to roast your own. If you want to roast a lot at one time, I recommend doing them on a BBQ or putting them on a sheet pan and roasting them in the oven. But if you only need one, you can do the first part as seen below, on top of a gas burner on the stove. **Do not do this on an electric stove burner and do not walk away from the pepper when it is on the stove.**
1. Brush or spray the pepper lightly with olive oil.
2. Put the pepper over a low flame and turn it frequently with tongs, allowing it to char on all sides.
3. When done (this takes 7-10 minutes), place in a bowl covered with plastic wrap while the pepper is still warm. The heat will create steam and will loosen the skin.
4. When cool, cut the pepper in half, peel off the skin and rinse to remove the seeds and any little black pieces of charred skin. Use as needed.