Sun-Dried Tomato Tapenade

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Tapenade is a condiment from the region surrounding Provence, France, consisting of a variety of ingredients minced very fine or ground together in a mortar and pestle with olive oil.  And while the name derives from the French word meaning capers (tapèno, which are usually included), the dish is most often described by people as an “olive paste.”  Likely the most traditional use for tapenade is to spread it on bread or crackers and serve as an hors d’ oeuvre.  But limiting it’s use to a cracker spread overlooks the true possibilities hiding in the powerful flavors of this simple recipe.

Gather Up:

  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted (about 20 whole olives)
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (I use the dried ones, not the oil-packed)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-1/2 tbsp capers, drained
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Combine everything in the bowl of a small food processor or blender.  It may help to cut the garlic cloves into smaller pieces before throwing in, and to slice the sun-dried tomatoes into 1/4-inch wide pieces as well – just to keep things roughly the same size when you start.

Blend on high, scraping the sides as needed, until everything is well mixed and has been reduced to a coarse paste.  You can add a teaspoon more olive oil if needed, but you want it to remain thick without a lot of oil.  Transfer to a small prep bowl – this will yield about 3/4 cup of finished tapenade.  Refrigerate, covered, for up to a week.

To serve – use your imagination.  Join us tomorrow for elk steaks with grilled portabello mushrooms and this tapenade as an ingredient in the steak sauce (which also makes an incredible salad dressing).  Try mixing the tapenade with a tablespoon or two of balsamic vinegar and using as a wet rub on pork.  Blended with pastured butter and spread over bone-in chicken breasts (under the skin) before broiling or roasting is excellent too.  It can be used as a dip for fresh veggies and jicama.  And, of course, you can simply sit and eat it with a spoon!

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