In Part 2 of my love affair with David Lebovitz and his book My Paris Kitchen, is this green olive tapenade. Super simple, super forgiving, and it makes you look like a first-rate host when you have it sitting out for guests. There are still several entrées / appetizers in David’ My Paris Kitchen I need to try, but this one gets a big gold star.
Hosting events, parties, or dinners has always been something I’ve enjoyed. I’m pretty sure I got it from my mother (who can be found making chowder for 40 people or hosting a birthday lunch for someone to this day) but it started pretty early. During my undergrad, I usually spent Thanksgiving in the university town instead of going home, which meant I quickly learned how to cook a 25 pound turkey and coordinate small kitchens to feed 30-40 people. Those meals were beautifully organized and absolutely chaotic at the same time, and people arrived and ate in rolling waves as our college apartments struggled to contain them. I continued to host parties and events wherever I lived, and really miss the backyard I had in California.
When I moved to Italy, it became a real challenge to host dinners or get-togethers with more than a couple of people. Apartments are generally smaller, especially when you’re sharing an apartment as I did at the very beginning, and it just seemed like it wasn’t as common to have 10 friends over to swap cookies or just to drink wine and play games. My desire to host remained the same, but the spaces just didn’t cooperate as much. So I’ve learned to scale back the “more the merrier” feeling I had living in the U.S. and focus more on the “how cramped might we be?” when deciding on a guest list.
But back to this tapenade. It’s a great recipe to have in your back pocket and if you are lucky enough to have space to host friends and family. It’s a crowd pleaser and makes you look like a host who planned every last detail!
Just listing out the ingredients made me think of the Pesto Garganico I made with basil, almonds, and dried tomatoes – make sure you try that recipe as well! I am tempted to top a steaming bowl of spaghetti with a few spoonfuls of the tapenade and have a quick meal as well, but so far there hasn’t been any leftovers from when I’ve made it.
Green Olive, Basil, and Almond Tapenade Recipe
Notes: I love a very chunky tapenade, but if you want it to be the base for crostini or to spread on a sandwich, you might want to pulse it a bit longer. A modification from the original recipe (listed below), I used toasted raw almonds because that’s what I had on hand. Since my almonds were toasted their flavor came out a bit stronger but I thought it was great. David says the tapenade will last a week in your fridge, but I doubt you’ll have any left to put back after an evening.
2 cups (260g) green olives, pitted
1/3 cup (35g) whole untoasted* almonds
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tablespoon capers, rinsed and squeezed dry
1/2 cup (15g) loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup (125ml) olive oil
Sea salt or kosher salt
- Rough chop the basil leaves. Alternatively you can rip them with your hands into smaller pieces.
- In a food processor or mini-prep, put the olives, almonds, garlic, lemon juice, and capers along with the basil leaves and pulse the blades a few times to start breaking down the ingredients.
- Add the olive oil and a pinch of salt, and continue to pulse until the mixture is the consistency you desire.
Are you a tapenade fan? What would you add / change in this mix?