Tapenade – dark as Christmas Night (vegan version)
Salty, deep, dark, garlicky, oily, wicked – tapenade tastes like it looks like it sounds. You can buy it ready made in jars, of course you can. But if you make it yourself, firstly it tastes fresh and spicy and wakeful, and secondly, it’s far more cost effective. I quite often get asked for the recipe, which shows that home-made really tastes different from bought.
All you need is a stick blender – the bowl of a main mixer is just too big for this and the blades don’t get right into the sides of the paste. It depends how smooth you want it - it’s a personal thing. I like it smooth enough to spoon onto a small cracker or broken shard of toast, and have it stay there by its own willpower, so it needs to be oily and textured enough to stay in a blob. But I still like the slightly rough woolly-blanket-texture of the olives, not a soupy puree. Maybe I’m hard to please, but the point here is don’t over-liquidise. Stop once the mix has turned into a puree, taste, test and liquidise again if you want to.
This is perfect party food – adult, sophisticated and tasting very much of the night. Serve it on little crackers slicked with cream cheese, on that French toast you get in packets (which gives you a surprise sweetish tang too, for another adult kick) or on pieces of broken sourdough for a careless, California vibe. Obviously in these post-Covid days, we don’t offer this as a dip, except in individual ramekins with each-to-his-own plates of dippy things.
If you make larger quantities, this makes a superb gift, put into little jars to give to people at Christmas; maybe along with a little bag of sweet treats if you want to be really impressive.
Serves 6 as a starter along with other nibbles and snacks. Timings – 10 minutes.
Put all the ingredients in a bowl and blend with a stick blender. Test the texture and either add a tiny bit more olive oil and blend a bit more or leave as it is. It keeps very well stored in a jar in the fridge, so you can make this at the start of Christmas and bring it out when the occasion demands.
A Hug from the Kitchen
Healthy, hearty, happy food, for good times and bad. Cheer yourself up, or spread the cheer around your family and friends.