UPC’s Black Olive Tapenade
I have writer’s block right now. It’s a little bit funny, because I write this blog to share myself with you all because I really love sharing, and getting feedback. So the idea that I might have writer’s block is a little bit strange to me. I actively want to be writing about Black Olive Tapenade, but when I try to pull that thought out of my head, there’s a door that’s closed, and I can’t open it right now. So I’ll write about something else; and maybe the rising tide will raise that door… Erm… I think I mixed two sayings there; but it worked.
So here’s my something else: Writer’s Block
Has this ever happened to you? Where you have something that you want to write about, but you really just can’t pull it out? It’s like the “tip of the tongue” thing that happens, when you want to say something, and you know you know what it is, but it’s just not coming out. Well, that’s a little bit like what my Writer’s Block is feeling like right now. And with food, this doesn’t happen to me often. I normally have to curb myself back, keeping my posts down to the 800-1000 words I share on a post. I wrote a 2700 word post recently and tried to cut it up into 3 sections, just to be somewhat considerate of you, my readers. Of course, a little bit of writer’s block creeped in there too, when I lost the second portion of the posts that I had cut out… That’s always fun!
Ok, I think I can get on to talking about Black Olive Tapenade now. I hope.
Take two: UPC’s Black Olive Tapenade
I know I promised to make the Black Olive Tapenade several months ago. And it’s about time I did, right? Well, I did, and here it is!
This was a hit! I can already start to think of the ways that I’ll make it differently the next time; or perhaps I’ll make several batches the next time and I’ll taste them side by side. The flavor and texture combination of the ingredients I used were excellent! The rich savory flavoring of the olives, combined with the sharply salty flavor of the capers worked really well together. My wife doesn’t really like artichoke hearts (unless they’re grilled – then she LOVES them), but when she tasted this, with a bit of initial trepidation I might add, she quickly came around the kitchen counter and helped herself to some more!
There are a couple of key ideas that I think worked really well in this recipe. First, I crushed the ingredients rather than blending them. It takes a bit more time and effort, and the result isn’t anywhere near as fine as what you see in most commercial brands, but I think that the rough chunky texture was just right for the flavor! I’ll try it blended (it’s been a long time since I’ve had commercial tapenade…) the next time I make it, just to confirm this, but I was really quite satisfied with using the Mortar and Pestle on this.
I chopped the artichoke hearts, and then cooked them down in their own juices, before adding them to the tapenade. I’ve worked with canned or frozen artichokes enough to know that they’re wet and fibrous. The best way to start breaking down that heavy fiber is to cook them a bit, and by cooking them in their own juices, I get to concentrate their flavor at the same time. It worked quite well, and I was pleased with both the eventual softness of the artichoke heart fibers, but also with the way that the flavor changed by being cooked. It was more rich, like the tapenade, than it was when I first started.
The Mortar And Pestle:
There’s something “authentic” about using one. I’m really not sure if there’s anything more about using the mortar and pestle that I prefer. I mean, I tell myself that I like the texture more. But I’m not actually certain about that. I just really like the pleasure of having taken the time to really, manually, made the food into exactly what I was looking for. It’s fun, a little bit, and a bit of hard work, all mixed together.
On the down side, they take a lot of time. I put in the recipe notes that, while I used a mortar and pestle for this, I don’t necessarily recommend it (that’s paraphrased, of course). The mortar and pestle are great for keeping guests busy, when they asked to help; they’re great for making you feel like you’ve “done something”; and they’re great for that “authentic” experience. And all of those things are important to me. But when I’m short on time, I would use the blender for this recipe. It might not come out as chunky, and “authentic”; but it will still be delicious, and it will be MUCH faster!
This is great served over something with a mild but savory flavor. I wouldn’t recommend making this as a topping for a steak… But it’s amazing over something like baked Sweet Potato Slices (or chips), or Plantain Chips, or especially Yuca Fries. As much as I love using cucumber chips and carrot chips, I don’t think they’ll be quite right for this recipe. However, if the carrots were roasted carrots, they would be perfect! This time I served it over baked Sweet Potato Slices; and they were delicious together! I will definitely consider the same serving for the next time I make it!
Now, serve and enjoy!
- 1 6oz (drained weight) can Black Olives (glass jars are often better quality, if possible)
- 1 cup chopped Artichoke Heart (cooked down, even caramelized if you have the time)
- ½ cup Capers (again, jar if possible)
- ½ Lime, fresh squeezed
- 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
- Optional Flavorings: Chile Pepper, Paprika, Garlic (fresh only), Ginger (fresh or powdered)
- Chop the Artichoke Hearts as finely as you can stand and cook them on high temperature in a sauce pan, stirring constantly.
- Continue to cook until the artichoke liquid has all evaporated while stirring constantly.
- Once done, remove from the heat immediately (unless you're caramelizing them, in which case follow my "Caramelized Orange Peels" recipe to caramelize the artichoke hearts) and prepare the rest of the tapenade while the artichokes cool.
- If whole, crush and chop the olives before adding them to the Mortar and Pestle (or blender, if you are short on time).
- Add the chopped/crushed olives, capers, lime juice, and cooked artichoke hearts to the Mortar and Pestle, along with the olive oil, and crush gently until they are the consistency you desire.
It took me about 10 minutes of crushing to reach my desired consistency. Mine is a high quality granite mortar and pestle, with a fairly rough interior surface. It handles this kind of dip/tapenade crushing just right (and it looks great), which is why I picked it out. I've worked with finer mortar and pestle units, where the work would have taken longer - if I had one of those, I would probably do this recipe in a blender, and then serve it in the mortar and pestle.