Olive Tapenade and Spread- fun with MUFAs

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.

Ingredients:

*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

Instructions:

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.

Other options:

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. 

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