Here at Food52, we love recipes -- but do we always use them? Of course not. Because once you realize you don't always need a recipe, you'll make your favorite dishes a lot more often. This post is brought to you by Triscuit.
Today: Olive lovers unite with this easy -- recipe-free -- spread that can spruce up happy hour or fancify lunch.
When you love olives, it's hard to keep them out of your day-to-day eating plans: a small tupperware of Castelvetrano olives here, a dish of anchovy-stuffed olives there, an Umbrian black olive panino for lunch one day, a Sicilian green olive salad for dinner the next, and, well, you get the idea. But even olive lovers tire of eating olives by the finger. Sometimes you need a new way to dress up olives for a party or to turn them into a portable snack.
Enter tapenade. If you're familiar only with the kind that comes in the small jar from the supermarket, you're missing out. The time saved may seem to compensate for the less-than-ideal flavor, but you can make make a much better version at home in under 30 minutes. Here’s how:
1. Gather your ingredients. In order to make an amazing tapenade, you must have two ingredients: capers and olives. Technically, you are not making a tapenade until you have smashed capers and olives together. Also be sure to grab an anchovy or two, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Olives are the backbone of tapenade, so choose wisely and follow your personal preference: Use green olives, Kalamata olives, or a mix of the two, and aim for 2 cups of pitted olives total. I also like to get creative by adding fresh herbs. Tapenade typically includes some combination of thyme, basil, parsley, oregano, and rosemary, but feel free pick whichever herbs look fresh and appealing.
More: Before you head to the market, learn a little more about herbs.
2. Blend. Toss all of your ingredients -- except for the olive oil -- into a food processor. Blend until a thick paste forms. (We told you this was easy.)
3. Incorporate the oil. With the processor running, add the olive oil slowly, until the tapenade becomes a little more chunky and less paste-like, about 1 to 2 minutes. Depending on the kind of olives you are using and whether they came packed in oil, you will probably need somewhere between a couple of tablespoons and a half cup. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Serve the tapenade on crackers or bread. You can also use it as a spread on sandwiches or pack it into small jars and give it to your closest olive-loving friends.
What's your idea of the perfect tapenade? Green or black olives? Rosemary or thyme? Tell us in the comments!
Photos by Mark Weinberg