Saturday, March 22, 2014

O is for: Olive & Caper Tapenade

People like to ask me all the time how I'm "coping" with the food scene in Central Connecticut.

While it's not even comparable to the likes of San Francisco or New York, we do actually have some really great eats here. The big difference is... there's probably like 10 of them instead of hundreds.

One of my favorite spots is a place called Plan B Burger, which features some pretty amazing burgers with some ridiculously awesome flavor combos. My go-to order there is the "West Coast" (go figure), which features a hand-ground juicy beef patty, avocado, a fried egg (heaven), and a kalamata olive mayo on a pretzel bun.

(Are you drooling yet?)

That delicious condiment is what inspired me to make this olive tapenade.

In case you were wondering (and I just know you were), tapenade is a Proven├žal dish made with olives, capers and olive oil. In fact, it comes from the Proven├žal word for capers, which is tapenas. (Or, at least that's what Wikipedia says. And as we know, Wikipedia is always right). 

It often includes fresh herbs and/or anchovy as well. I had some cilantro on hand so I used that, but wouldn't you know it, I was fresh out of anchovy. And just because I also had some pine nuts, I threw some of those in too.

I decided to use a mix of olives I found at my local grocery store olive bar, including about half kalamata to mimic the Plan B olive mayo. Black will be the most mild, kalamata will be a little more intense, green will be somewhere in the middle. Like I said, I went with a mixed bag.

If they are not already pitted for you, you'll need to do that. I find that my handy cherry pitter works great for this.

From there, just toss the olives, capers, nuts, herbs and lemon juice in your food processor. Begin processing while drizzling the olive oil in and stopping down to scrape the sides if necessary. You're looking for a coarse paste. You can season with a little cracked pepper if you'd like, but I thought it was perfect as-is. (It will be pretty salty from the olives and capers, so you won't need to add any of that). To make a creamier spread, add more olive oil.

On account of my healthy eating kick (aka... I'm going to Mexico in two weeks and need to be in a bikini soon), I did not make it into a mayo, nor did I put it on a traditional hamburger. I did, however, try it on a veggie burger (no bun), along with a fried egg on top, and it was bomb.

I also tested it out as a dip with toasted pita bread, which provided the perfect Mediterranean accompaniment. (Though, French bread or crackers would be tasty as well). Additionally, I think it would also be fabulous on a sandwich, atop fish or chicken, or even as a garnish for deviled eggs.

And of course, if you're NOT on a diet, it would be absolutely, positively awesome mixed with mayo or aioli and slathered on a pretzel bun topped with a juicy hamburger, avocado and a perfectly fried egg.


Olive & Caper Tapenade

by Jaymee Sire
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Keywords: blender appetizer snack condiment gluten-free vegan vegetarian olives capers Mediterranean

Ingredients (1 cup tapenade)
  • 1 heaping cup pitted mixed olives
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs (such as cilantro or parsley)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Place all ingredients except for olive oil in bowl of food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process while slowly adding olive oil until a coarse paste forms, stopping and scraping down the sides if necessary. Serve at room temperature with toasted pita triangles, bread or crackers.
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