A fast and easy kalamata tapenade that’s full of intense flavor. Made with kalamata olives, lemon zest, and topped with fresh chives.
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Summer is a time for picnics, potlucks, and general social get-togethers. That’s the case in this state, anyway. Minnesotans have a tendency to hibernate throughout the winter and many of our social gatherings get crammed into the summer months. I’m willing to bet that on any given summer weekend we could find some kind of town festival, county fair, family reunion, or grill-out to attend. And many of these outdoor get-togethers require us to bring some kind of food. A dish to share with others as we basque in our few months of glorious weather. If you’re looking for something kind of light and flavorful to tide you over as the grill heats up, this Kalamata Olive Tapenade on Crostini might be just what you’re looking for.
A tapenade is a seasoned spread usually made with olives, capers, and anchovies. It’s great with bread or anything that’s sort of cracker-y. Tapenade is super easy to make and the few ingredients in there pack a lot of flavor. I used kalamata olives for this recipe. There’s no real reason for it other than I really like kalamata olives. You can find them at most grocery stores. They’re characterized by their deep purple color and rich, briny flavor.
The other trademark ingredient that gives tapenade its distinct flavor is anchovy paste. You can use jarred anchovies as well, but I find that the paste is just easier. It comes in a tube, you can use only as much as you need, and then you can save the rest for another recipe (just be sure to store it in the fridge). A lot of people cringe when they hear the word anchovy. Somehow the ingredient got a bad rap over the years. But, don’t be thrown – it adds so much flavor to your food. And it doesn’t taste ‘fishy’ (as long as you don’t add too much). To quote Bobby Flay – “Anchovies are the bacon of the sea.” I also add some garlic, lemon juice and zest, and some fresh chives.
My significant other stopped by the farmer’s market on his way home from work one day and picked up these fresh chives. I basically grabbed them out of his hands and started photographing them because they’re just beautiful. And on top of that – they taste good. Fresh herbs are a great way to brighten up the flavor of any dish. This is perfect for something like tapenade, which can be a little heavy in salt from the olives and anchovies. I actually leave capers out my tapenade for that reason. I think three salt-heavy ingredients can be a bit much.
To make the tapenade, all you do is combine 1 6 oz. jar of kalamata olives, 1-2 cloves garlic, 1 tsp. anchovy paste, the zest of one lemon, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, and a pinch of black pepper in a small food processor and pulse to combine. I would recommend not over-pulsing the mixture. Too much time in the food processor will result in a slimy, unappealing tapenade. You can also use a mortar and pestle to combine the ingredients. Just smash everything together until you reach your desired consistency. I found what really comes through in this recipe is the lemon zest. It just lightens the whole thing up.
My favorite way to eat tapenade is on some crostini. Crostini is just little pieces of toasted bread. Cut a baguette or any kind of bread into small slices, spread a little bit of olive oil on them, and bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes. The bread will get a little crusty and it makes the perfect vehicle for toppings of all kinds. Spread some of the tapenade onto each crostini and top with the chopped chives. You could use any kind of herb you like. The herb is there to enhance the dish. But, if you like parsley more than chives or you’ve got leftover basil to use up, feel free to use either of them. So, there you go. A fresh and easy appetizer for your next summer gathering.
- 1 baguette - or other bread
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut the baguette into small slices and place on a baking sheet.
- Spread a small amount of olive oil on each piece of bread.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes.
- Place kalamata olives, 1-2 cloves garlic, anchovy paste, lemon zest, lemon juice, and black pepper in a small food processor.
- Pulse until the mixture reaches the desired consistency.
- Chop the fresh herbs into small pieces.
- Spread tapenade onto crostini and top with fresh herbs.
Be careful not to over-mix the tapenade. This will result in a mushy texture.
Recipe can be doubled if larger amount is needed.