This recipe, if you can call it that, was part of the recent ‘Tis the Season event at Central Baptist Church in North Little Rock. I shared some appetizer ideas for holiday entertaining, along with some crazy stories and examples of ways to share love with people through food. If you were there, the ganache recipe is here (well, roughly…I’ll update soon with the exact one we made), and the bacon-wrapped dates from my friend Delta Moxie are in this issue of Farm Bureau’s Front Porch magazine.
Tapenade, if you’re new to the stuff, is a lovely, briny olive mixture that can be a gorgeous and easy appetizer for holiday entertaining. I’ve mentioned it before, but this one is different. And actually yummier. It’s great on little toasted rounds of bread, rice crackers (they don’t get soggy), or just about anything, really.
This is the fairly-fancy-but-no-time-to-waste version. It does require a food processor, at least for the super-fast version, although you could definitely use a knife or even one of those slap-chop kinda things if that’s your speed. The recipe is also born of inspiration based on a super-crazy week, which I’m sure I’ll see again come Christmas entertaining time.
The crazy, that is. The inspiration will have to carry over.
You may have figured out by now that I am a huge Kroger fan. They don’t pay me to say that (although, to borrow a phrase from Alton Brown, they could if they wanted to); it’s just true. One store in particular here in North Little Rock is my happy place: the Indian Hills store on JFK Boulevard. (Cue angels singing.) I shop there like most ladies shop for shoes at the mall, or wherever it is that trendy ladies shop for shoes.
At this particular store, they have a great olive bar, or Mediterranean bar, or whatever. It brims with yummies like fresh hummus (usually a couple kinds), marinated mushrooms, even some dolmas. They have three sizes of containers to choose from, one roughly double the next. (Sorry, I don’t know the exact volume, but you’ll see that it doesn’t matter.)
If you live near this Kroger, or any store with a similar olive bar, here are the steps to an amazing, multi-tasking tapenade that will wow any party.
- Pick up one large container (the biggest of the three), one medium, and two of the smallest ones, which are about a quarter of the size of the big one.
- Fill the largest container with the roasted red bell peppers from the bar. If you don’t see any, ask the attendant or someone at the deli and he/she will probably be glad to open a container for you. (At my store, she even offered to open one just so I’d have the very freshest, although the ones on the bar were perfectly fine.) Avoid getting large amounts of the packing oil in the container.
- Fill the medium container with pitted kalamata olives. They’re the purple ones. Drain out as much liquid as possible.
- Fill a small container with green olives stuffed with garlic. This will save you the step of peeling garlic later. Bonus! And yes, avoid the liquid. You don’t want to have to pay for that.
- Fill another small one with sun-dried or roasted tomatoes. They are packed in olive oil, which you should mostly drain off.
- Run by the produce section and get a container of Simple Truth organic fresh basil. (I’m digging on this new Kroger brand of additive-free foods.) They’re in little plastic packages, usually hanging above the mushrooms and baby potatoes and such.
Back home, put the green olives with garlic in the food processor first. This is because you want the garlic to be pretty fine. Nobody wants to bite down into that! Buzz the green olives and garlic until they are teeny, almost a paste. Remove into a large bowl but don’t worry about the processor being completely clean yet.
Now, put the other ingredients in the processor and buzz them until they’re in tiny pieces. Work in batches depending on the size and power of your machine; it’s all going the same place, so no matter. As you finish each batch, just dump everything into the same large bowl that already has the green olives and garlic. Add a handful of basil to the last batch you process and let it get minced along with everything else. Stir it all together.
What, no olive oil? No extra salt? Nope. The oil that the peppers and tomatoes were packed in is plenty. And you can surely add salt if you like, but the olives are super salty, so try the finished product first.
Guess what? You’re done.
This is best the day after it’s made, so put that bowl in the fridge and let it get happy the day before your party. The next day, drain off any excess liquid, stir, and put it in a pretty bowl. Garnish with a bit of fresh basil. Boom.
In our class, we sliced a baguette, brushed the slices with olive oil and toasted them in the oven before topping with the tapenade. To make things even easier, buy a container of rice crackers (in the Asian section of this particular Kroger) and call it done. They hold up beautifully under toppings, and your gluten-free friends (like myself) can enjoy them.
And isn’t that what food is about, sharing love with all your people? I think so. I hope your people love it.
This “recipe” makes a metric ton of tapenade, like enough for 20+ folks. So, if you don’t need that much, just get the ingredients in similar proportions. (I know, gag, math.) Four parts peppers, two parts kalamata olives, one part green olives with garlic, one part tomatoes. If you liked the container method of measurement, this could be one medium container of peppers, one small container kalamata, and one shared small container of green olives/garlic and tomatoes.
You may want a metric ton. I’m just saying.
Up next…an amazing pasta recipe that uses the remaining tapenade, should you have made a metric ton and have a bunch left after your party. Actually, it’s good enough to make the stuff for.