When is a pesto not a pesto?
When it is a tapenade!
This morning I was craving, well, salt. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know I am usually a low-salt or even no-salt sort of cook, totally by choice, but not today! It is still too hot here to turn on the oven unless absolutely necessary, and then ideally not until evening, so I was casting about for something to make with as little heat as possible and got to thinking about pasta salad.
Now don’t go all ET on me about the anchovies. You can leave them out (but you’ll be missing on flavor!). I used anchovy paste, which comes in a handy little tube, and it works just fine. That’s what the odd wormy-looking brown stuff is in the “before” photo.
And, I know one person who is caper-phobic. Fine, you can leave them out as well… but I love ’em. If you use the pickled ones you can just toss them in, if you use the salt-packed ones be sure to rinse them first!
Now tapenade is generally presented as an appetizer spread. It is fine on crackers or bread, but I couldn’t see any reason not to mix it with pasta. It took much less time to make the tapenade than it did to cook the pasta! If you have a food processor you can do this in just minutes, and while it is better the second day (flavor melding and all that) you can pretty much eat it immediately and enjoy it just fine.
There are recipes all over the Internet for tapenade, and you can certainly customize it to your taste as mentioned above, but you must use olives. That’s pretty much it. It is an olive/caper/anchovy spread. You can add thyme, oregano, basil, rosemary, onions, lemon zest, garlic (yes please), or even, (as I did because I had ’em) sun-dried tomatoes.
Here’s all I did (proportions rough, of course…)
2 C pitted olives, mixed green and black, drained
1 clove garlic, peeled and rough chopped
1 T anchovy paste
2 T capers, drained
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 sun-dried tomato halves, chopped
1/4 C (more or less) olive oil
Put all ingredients except olive oil in a food processor and pulse. Degree of chunkiness is up to you! I like mine with some texture, others prefer it more like a smooth paste. Add the olive oil at the end to give it as much silkiness as desired.
Could it be easier? I chopped a bit of fresh basil and put it on top, but that’s all I did to “fancy” it up. Oh, and you can certainly do a gluten-free version of this “salad” with rice rather than pasta, or put the tapenade on spaghetti or fettuccine, or… you tell us!
I snacked on this while it was warm and it was very good, but you could eat it cold (if it lasts long enough) with some crusty bread and a nice green salad. Mmmm… enjoy!