If you like olives, this is the tapenade for you. If you don’t really like olives, but feel you should, this is the tapenade for you. If you already have a couple kinds of olives on hand, but not very many of any one sort, this is most definitely the tapenade for you.
1 pint pitted olives, well drained, mixed is preferable to one sort, well chopped–but not too evenly
1 small shallot, minced
1 small stalk celery, leafy tops included, minced
3/4 oz sun dried tomatoes, rehydrated in hot water for 6 minutes, then drained (reserve the soaking liquid) and chopped
1/4 cup minced flat leaf parsley
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne powder (optional)
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
Combine everything in a medium work bowl. Taste the tapenade carefully. Does it want the sweetness and moisture from some of the reserved tomato soaking liquid? Does it need a few drops of lemon juice? A shake of Worcestershire sauce to deepen the umami? Do you want it more cohesive? In which case, pulse the tapenade several times in a food processor to achieve the desired consistency.
Let your tapenade ‘marry’ for 4-6 hours at room temperature, or refrigerated overnight. Taste and correct it again, as necessary. This will keep, stored in an air-tight container, for about two weeks.
This spread makes a great foil for polenta hors d’oeuvres. Make your own polenta half moons, or buy those convenient prepared rolls and slice into rounds 1/4″ thick, then in half. On a pre-heated, oiled baking sheet, cook the polentas at 400°F for 10-12 minutes, then turn and cook them for another 8-10. You want them well browned and shrunken. Otherwise, they’ll get floppy when you apply the tapenade to one end–and you don’t want that.
This makes about two cups, which goes a long way as the flavors are concentrated and only ripen over time. One double batch will see you right through the holidays. Unless you’re as greedy as I am for a good tapenade.