Condiment Spotlight: Green Olive Tapenade (with Oven Roasted Salmon)

The Green Olive Tapenade is a keeper.

Green Olive Tapenade Topping on Roasted Salmon

I’ll be honest. The real star of this salmon dish is the green olive and almond tapenade. No offense to the salmon, which is sublime as always and a no-fail simple, healthy meal. But, frankly, it’s the tapenade I want to talk about: it’s positively addictive with a briny brightness that complements the buttery rich salmon. It’s also versatile. Not only is the tapenade a worthy accompaniment to grilled fish (halibut is also a good contender), it’s a great stand-alone starter spooned on crostini or sprinkled over pizzas, pasta, and grains. The good news is that this recipe makes a generous amount of tapenade, so you can refrigerate the leftovers. Then you will have extra to smear on a slice of bread or swipe a carrot stick through. You might even find yourself eating it straight up from a bowl with a spoon. I’m speaking from experience.

Recipe: Roasted Salmon with Green Olive Tapenade

Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: about 40 minutes
Serves 4; Makes about 1 1/2 cups tapenade

Tapenade:
12 ounces pitted green olives, such as Castelvetrano
1/2 cup almonds, toasted
2 anchovies, drained
1 large garlic clove
2 teaspoons capers
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Salmon:
4 (6 ounce) salmon fillets, pin bones removed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for garnish
Juice of 1/2 lemon, plus 4 lemon wedges for serving
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Make the tapenade: Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process to a coarse paste, without letting it get mushy. (The tapenade may be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days.)
2. Heat the oven to 350°F. Arrange the salmon in one layer in a roasting pan, skin side down. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and the lemon juice. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven until the salmon is just cooked to your desired doneness, about 25 minutes for medium, depending on the thickness of the filets.
3. Transfer to serving plates and top each filet with about 2 tablespoons of the tapenade. Serve with a lemon wedge.

Superbowl Party Dips for Vegetables and Chips

Seasonal Crudites with your favorite dip

I am a diehard playoffs fan. Which is to say I am pretty oblivious to any sports season – until it gets to the playoffs. My last minute interest is amplified when it’s a Boston or a San Francisco team, due to history and my current zip code. As you can imagine, this can pose a dilemma. I have found myself at times the lone cheerleader for the other team, the guest-non-grata, risking loss of friends or getting pelted with tortilla chips. I can’t help it. Birthright rules, and so does Boston.  This year, once again, I am gearing up for the Superbowl, where the Patriots are on their way, and fortunately this year I have absolutely no conflict of interest. I may even be invited to a party.

Superbowl Party Dips for Vegetables and Chips

I get the chips, but if I am going to nosh for 3 hours while I watch a football game, I crave vegetables too. Here are a few of my favorite dips that go well with chopped veggies and chips alike – including this recipe for Guacamole

carrot hummus tastefoodCarrot Harissa Hummus

Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Dip 

tsatsikiGarlicky Greek Yogurt Dip (Tsatsiki)

green olive tapenade tastefoodOlive and Almond Tapenade

Pizza with Roasted Cauliflower, Calabrian Chilies and Green Olive Tapenade

Pizza with Roasted Cauliflower, Calabrian Chilies and Green Olive Tapenade

I’ll get right to the point. The star of this pizza is the tapenade – a smashing combination of briny green olives, toasted almonds, the rich oily heat of Calabrian chili and magical umami-rich anchovies. Sprinkled over roasted cauliflower, fresh peppers and creamy mozzarella, this is one fresh and feisty pizza. The only problem with the tapenade is that it’s so good, you might find yourself gobbling spoonfuls straight from the bowl, smearing it on a piece of bread, or swiping the prepped cauliflower through it before you have a chance to assemble the pizza, so I recommend that you make a double or triple batch. This way, you can have your nibbles and eat your pizza, too.  Continue reading Pizza with Roasted Cauliflower and Green Olive Tapenade

Roasted Salmon with Green Olive and Almond Tapenade

I’ll be honest. The real star of this salmon dish is the green olive and almond tapenade. No offense to the salmon, which is sublime as always.  But, frankly, this tapenade is positively addictive, adding salty, briny brightness and crunch to the buttery salmon. So, if possible, make a double batch of the tapenade. Then you will have extra to smear on a slice of bread or swipe a carrot stick through. You might even find yourself eating it straight up from a bowl with a spoon. I’m speaking from experience.

Roasted Salmon with Green Olive Tapenade

Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: about 40 minutes
Serves 4; makes about 1 1/2 cups tapenade

Tapenade:
12 ounces pitted green olives
1/2 cup almonds, toasted
2 anchovies, drained
1 large garlic clove
2 teaspoons capers
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Salmon:
4 (6 ounce) salmon fillets, pin bones removed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for garnish
Juice of 1/2 lemon, plus 4 lemon wedges for serving
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Make the tapenade: Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process to a coarse paste, without letting it get mushy. (The tapenade may be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days.)
2. Heat the oven to 350°F. Arrange the salmon in one layer in a roasting pan, skin side down. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and the lemon juice. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven until the salmon is just cooked through the center, about 25 minutes, depending on the thickness of the filets.
3. Transfer to serving plates and top each filet with about 2 tablespoons of the tapenade. Serve with a lemon wedge.

Olivada

Olivada

~ Olivada ~

Got heat? Try this recipe for Olivada. When the weather is bleeping hot outside, and it’s too stifling to move, this salty, briny, more-ish concoction hits the spot.  Similar to a tapenade but much more simple, the star of this recipe is olives – 3 kinds, in fact.  I choose a variety of olives to balance their intensity and flavor and blitz them with toasted pinenuts and garlic. The flavors are sharp, inky, salty and addictive. While you may not have the energy to move in this heat, this recipe promises to get your taste buds dancing.

~
Olivada

Make a double batch to keep on hand in the refrigerator for easy use. Serve with baguette slices or crostini. Add spoonfuls to pasta dishes and salads, or sprinkle over pizza and roasted vegetables. Makes about 2 cups.

1 cup oil-cured olives, about 5 ounces, pitted
1 cup pitted kalamata olives, about 4 ounces
1 cup pitted green olives, such as Cavelstrano, about 4 ounces
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted golden
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all of the ingredients together in a bowl of a food processor. Pulse to finely chop to desired consistency. Do not over process or the olivada will become a paste. Transfer to a glass jar or container with a lid. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours to let the flavors develop. The olivada will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. (The flavors will diminish over time.)

More Salt, Please

More Salt, Please

Not to repeat myself, but once again we are experiencing a heatwave (100 F.)  One of the nicer aspects of our house is that it has lovely floor-to-ceiling glass windows and skylights – everywhere.  Coming from the dark of Scandinavia this was a huge plus.  Lots of light and sunshine all the time, California-style.  Well, right now I feel as though I am living in a microwave.  And suddenly, shady rooms, cooler temperatures and even cloudy skiesseem very appealing.

When it gets this hot I crave salt.  In any form.  In fact, if there were a salt tablet lying about I would consider sucking it.  Foods I survive on in this heat are olives, sliced tomato with sea salt, more olives, the occasional potato chip and more olives.  I keep a bowl of sea salt out on the kitchen counter and every time I pass the bowl I grab a flake or two and pop them in my mouth.   My favorite sea salt is Maldon, an English sea salt that has a wonderful mellow flavor and packs the right salty punch.

This olivada recipe I share with you is a long time favorite that I have made for many years.  You can try fiddling with the combination of olives to your taste*. I use three kinds, and have adapted them as we have moved from country to country and available ingredients have varied.  It is something that can be prepared and kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.  After the fourth day (if there is any left) toss the left-overs with freshly cooked pasta, chopped tomatoes, fresh basil leaves and buffalo mozzarella for a delicious room-temperature pasta salad.

Olivada

Olivada
Makes about 3 cups

1 can or jar pitted green olives, drained
1 can or jar pitted black olives, drained
1 jar Provençal-style olives, pitted (these are the very black, wrinkled olives, often tossed with herbes de provence.)
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted golden brown
2-3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place all of the ingredients in bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until well chopped.
(Try not to over-mix or the olivada will be too mushy.)
Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate at least one hour.
Serve with sliced baguette or crostini.
Olivada will keep up to 4 days in the refrigerator.

*As you experiment with different olives, adjust for a mixture of mild, sharp, bitter and salt to give an overall balanced flavor to the olivada.