As a long-time freelance food writer, Judith Hausman has written about every aspect of food, but local producers and artisanal traditions remain closest to her heart. Eating close to home takes this seasonal eater through a journey of delights and dilemmas, one tiny deck garden, farmers’ market discovery and easy-as-pie recipe at a time. She writes from a still-bucolic but ever-more-suburban town in the New York City ‘burbs.
No, olives are not local for me. Actually, only the garlic in this delicious, green-olive tapenade are homegrown. But here’s how I justify this quick holiday hors d’oeuvre: in the winter, we make use of our pantry and we should get clever with what we have. It’s time for all the jars and goodies we have stockpiled to keep us well-fed.
In the holiday spirit, you might raid your pantry and invite people over. The friendly, Mediterranean flavors of tapenade contrast beautifully with richer appetizers and heavier, cozier main courses. Since it takes five minutes to make and mostly comes out of jars and cans, tapenade qualifies as one of my secret weapons: super-easy but people think you are a genius when you serve it. See if I’m not right.
By the way, this traditional French recipe works with black olives, as well. If you use black ones, add a tablespoon of cognac or brandy to the tapenade. Add a teaspoon of soft butter to either version if you want to soften the acid tastes a little. If there’s any leftover, spread it on baked chicken breasts or whisk it into more olive oil and lemon juice to make a salad dressing.
Recipe: Green-Olive Tapenade
“Pitted” means no pits; it is confusing. Use any size olive, but not those stuffed with pimento or almonds.
- 1 14-15-ounce can or jar of pitted green olives, drained
- 2-3 anchovy filets (I like the jarred ones more than the canned ones.)
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 3-5 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh parsley
Whir all ingredients in a food processor with a steel blade until you have a smooth spread. Add a bit more olive oil if you’d like it thinner. Serve with crackers, slices of baguette or even triangles of pita bread.
Makes enough for one lively party.