Olives are one source of healthy fat (aka monounsaturated fats-MUFAs). The gist of the benefits of MUFAs include contributing to improved cholesterol levels, blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, and more. I make a point of including healthy fat in each of my meals- the amount depends on the fat source. Olives as a tapenade can be served with raw vegetables as a dip, and a topping for a mild white fish, even pork. Tapenade stores well in the fridge and is easy to make.
If you’re not a fan of capers, you can exclude them. The inclusion of capers is what makes it a “tapenade”, so without them, you have an olive “spread” or “paste”….delicious either way.
*2 cups pitted olives, rinse thoroughly, look for quality, avoid preservatives, and play with colour. Kalamata olives are dark black or brown, juicy, and ripe therefore easy to pit; green olives, such as Sicilian green, are large, firm, tart, and require more effort to pit; other varieties are red and light brown.
*2 tbsp. capers, rinse thoroughly (see other options below)
* 1 clove garlic, minced
*2 tbsp. olive oil
*1-2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Pepper to taste
Once you’ve pitted the olives, give them a rinse under cold water to remove excess salt. I smashed down the capers a bit too, and rinsed those.
Place the olives, garlic, and capers in a food processor and pulse a couple of times.
Next pour in the olive oil with the food processor running. You can continue to run it until you achieve a smooth texture (tapenade on the right in the picture, with Kalamata olives) or just a few pulses for more of a coarsely chopped texture (tapenade on the left, with green Sicilian olives). Stir in the lemon juice to your preference and pepper to taste. I prefer the taste once the tapenade has chilled for at least a few hours.
Store in the fridge and be sure to keep it covered with a bit of olive oil so that it doesn’t spoil.
Below, served with raw peppers, cucumber and carrots.
You may find the flavour to be strong. Before you blend the above ingredients to a smooth texture, give it a taste. If you want to mellow it out, sauté a handful of cherry tomatoes (halved or quartered), 1/2 a shallot (chopped) and 1/2 tsp. of minced garlic. Add this mix to the coarsely processed tapenade and blend until smooth. I served it below with baked white fish. Great flavour combination!
More options to try with the original recipe: double the garlic; 1-2 tsp. Dijon mustard; anchovy fillets; finely chopped parsley; thyme; basil.