Saturday, August 7, 2010

There's a Hummus among us, Hungry for Tapenade

Today, I give you two tasty dips and/or spreads for the price of one. Tapenade and hummus are both handy to have around and are great for entertaining. Each has a small ingredients list, can be whipped up in minutes, and have the tendency to become addictive once you get a taste.

A coarse Provençal puree of olives traditionally blended with capers, olive oil, and anchovies, tapenade presents itself at the table like a glistening pool of delicious olive confetti coaxing you to come take a dip into its calm wake. Although most commonly enjoyed spread on toasted bread such as crostini or pita chips, tapenade is very versatile; it also works great in a sandwich, as a marinade or stuffing, on your eggs, by the spoonful—let your creative juices flow freely to decide what else.

Tapenade is usually made with black olives such as Niçoise or Kalamata. I used a mix of green and Kalamata. Whichever type of olive you use, just make sure they’re good. When you start with good ingredients you are well on your way to having a great final product. I bought my olives pitted and opted for the food processor in place of the mortar and pestle, which for one, I do not own (but want to), and because sometimes taking the easy way out just hurts less.

I know that anchovies are one of the major ingredients in tapenade, but they are just not my thing, so I skipped them. I used the fresh basil from my “garden” (a small pot that sits on top of a table in the yard), for added flavor. I’ll explain my lack of a green thumb and this year’s unsuccessful “pot garden” (not that kind), for another post. For the finale, the addition of lemon and orange zests adds a refreshing brightness to the tapenade.

Just hearing the word “hummus” makes me want some. Dipping pita chip after pita chip into the Middle Eastern mash up of chickpeas and tahini (sesame paste), I tell myself, “just one more,” and then I have another…and another. With pita chips, crackers, or crudités, Hummus is so simple and so good. Since it does make for such a great snack, I tried the pre-made hummus that they sell in the grocery store once and let me tell you, it’s just not the same. I’m not saying it’s bad, I'm saying it’s just not the same.

Once you have all of the ingredients on hand, in less than the time that it takes you to go buy the pre-made kind, you can make your own. Classic hummus can even be doctored up with the addition of various vegetables or herbs; I made mine with sweet roasted pimentos peppers.  

Toasted pita chip topped with tapendae and soft goat cheese
If you would like to serve your tapenade and red pepper hummus with toasted pita chips, simply cut a few pitas into triangle pieces and lay out on a sheet tray; brush with a mixture of olive oil, paprika, salt and pepper and throw into a 350 degree oven until nice and toasty.

Thanks Tricia for the great blog suggestion!

P.S. The store only had big cans of tahini, so now I have a ton left over. Other than making more hummus, does anyone have any suggestions for how I can use it? I would love to hear your ideas!

Yield: 1 ½ - 2 cups

- 2 cups mixed olives (1 cup green, 1 cup kalamata)
- 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
- 1 Tbs capers
- 1 Tbs anchovies (optional)
- 1 whole lemon, juiced
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ tsp lemon zest
- ¼ tsp orange zest
- 1 Tbs basil, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste

• Pulse all ingredients except for zests and basil in a food processor until it becomes a finely chopped consistency throughout. Make sure not to over blend into a paste.
• Mix in both zests and chopped basil by hand. Season with salt and pepper.
• Serve with toasted bread such as on a crostini or with toasted pita chips. Can also be used as a condiment, stuffing, or marinade.

Red Pepper Hummus:
Yield: 1- 1 ½ cups

- 1 can chickpeas
- 1 small garlic clove, roughly chopped
- 1 Tbs sweet roasted pimentos in jar
- 2 Tbs tahini (sesame paste)
- 1 whole lemon, juiced
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil + extra for finishing
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Paprika to finish

• Blend all ingredients in a food processor until a smooth paste is formed. Check for seasoning and adjust.
• Serve topped with a sprinkling of paprika and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to keep from drying out; use as a spread or dip with toasted pita chips and/or crudités.


Lazaro Cooks! said...

Great post. Really an interesting read. Good solid information. I always learn something here.

2 wonderfully executed dishes.

By the way, you can use tahini paste in certain soups and salad dressings. It is a good thickening agent.

Adelina said...

Looks Delicious and love your post. You can also use tahini as a dip for falafel. I have also tried my mother-in-law's baked cookies that use tahini. Just think of it as peanut butter but with sesames and you might think of some other ideas.


They both look lovely! I like to make hummus with greek yogurt instead of tahini because it lighten it a bit!

Trish said...

They both look delish. I looove kalamata olives. I'll have to try your style hummus. Thanks for sharing.

Alice said...

*drooool* I have a Turkish aunt, so I was practically weaned on both of those and I adore them! And by the way, you can use tahini in babaganoush also

Magic of Spice said...

Perfectly done:) And I love your serving bowls...