If I talk about flavor too much on this site, I wish I could be sorry. I’m a sucker for big, bold, bright, salty flavors and I’m not afraid to admit it. I think this is a result of having to cut back on sweets; they say you can “retrain” your taste buds and I used to think that was, quite frankly, BS, but it turns out that your taste buds are just tiny puppies living on your tongue waiting for you to take them to obedience school and teach them how to stop chewing the carpet and/or craving sugar.
But, once a comfort eater, always a comfort eater, I think. At least that has been my experience. When I’m stressed or tired, I used to crave sweets and now I crave salty comfort: nut butters, roasted veggies (at least the way I make them, with an extra-generous sprinkle of salt), and olives.
Like carrot cake, I hated – and I do mean hated, as in was repulsed by – olives growing up. But as is abundantly clear by my inability to consume a salad without them, and my propensity to add them to my dinner entree, a flip switched one day and I did an inexplicable 180 from nearly barfing from being near one (what can I say? I was a picky eater and a dramatic child) to not only tolerating them but buying them in cartoonishly-oversized jars from Costco. And eating tapenade straight from the jar.
I put it on bread for the photos so you all wouldn’t know what an animal I am when it comes to olives, but I guess the jig is up now. One you try this, you’ll understand. It’s incredibly chunky and salty and herby because this version goes a little heavy handed (or, rather just heavily-handed enough) on the fresh flatleaf (Italian) parsley, to balance the salt. Traditionally, olive tapenade is made with sardines (or, sometimes, anchovies, I think), but that is one childhood aversion I haven’t been able to move past (yet, but I’m trying. Does anyone have any great sardine recipes? Please leave them in the comments below! Shrimp too!), so I make my tapenade without the oily little fish. I use capers instead to round out the flavor a bit, so this version is suitable to vegans and vegetarians too.
As for serving, try it on bread, crackers or veggies; as a spread on a sandwich, or with a fatty, creamy cheese to cut the saltiness. It works best in a variety of applications, but since we’re barreling into burger season, make sure to come back to the site tomorrow for a great burger recipe that pairs really well with this olive tapenade!
Anchovy-Free Olive Tapenade
- 1 cup fresh kalamata olives or mixed, pitted and drained
- 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh garlic
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
- 1 Tablespoon capers drained
- 1 cup fresh flatleaf parsley leaves
- 2-4 Tbsp olive oil
- Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until chunky.
- Add olive oil, 1 Tbsp at a time, and process until the mixture reaches your desired consistency.
- I only used 2 Tbsp oil because I like a chunky relish-like consistency, but if you want a smoother dip-like consistency, use more oil.
- If you'd like a smoother consistency, try making this in a high speed blender.
- You can try subbing 1-2 anchovy fillets for the capers, if you prefer.