Tag Archives: olive tapenade

Project Veggie: Day 16 – Pasta Tapenade

Sometimes I don’t feel like going to the store.  Sometimes I don’t feel like following a recipe.  And sometimes – not often enough probably – the frugal side of me thinks, “hey, you should use up some of this stuff you have in the fridge before you buy more stuff.”

Yesterday all three of those things came into play for me.  I had lots of bits and pieces of ingredients left over from other recipes and was feeling supremely lazy.  The result:  one of my random, thrown together concoctions.  This one turned out particularly tasty.  I wish I had had some fresh basil to throw in here, but alas, I did not. I can’t wait for warmer weather because I always have a big pot of it growing outside.  It’s about the only plant I can successfully grow with my black thumb. I included it in the recipe below because I think it would have been a great addition, but it was also good without it.

I think I need to keep a batch of olive tapenade on hand at all times.  It seems to be good with just about everything.  With this particular batch, I actually made three recipes – Gourmet Grilled Cheese, Pasta Tapenade (below), plus fried egg & tapenade sandwiches for breakfast one day. I’m sure my mom will be aghast that I messed with the sanctity of the basic fried egg sandwich but hey, I’m a rebel.

Pasta Tapenade

Pasta Tapenade

1 pkg. tri-color rotini pasta
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1-2 cups coarsely chopped fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup olive tapenade (make your own or buy from the store)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4-1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
lemon wedges and/or parmesan for garnish
Salt & pepper to taste

Cook pasta 8-10 minutes, until tender, but not overcooked.  Drain.  Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat, add garlic and crushed red pepper and stir until fragrant 1-2 minutes.  Add spinach and saute about a minute.  Add olive tapenade and cream and stir to blend.  Add pasta, feta and basil and toss.  Add salt & pepper if needed.  Garnish with lemon wedges and fresh parmesan if desired. Serves 4.

Cream + Tapenade = Purple Sauce. Cool!

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Project Veggie: Day 10 – Gourmet Grilled Cheese

I went to a Greek restaurant once where I ordered flaming cheese.  They poured some sort of alcohol over it and set it on fire.  When the fire when out you had a lump of melted bliss on a plate.  At my house I try not to set things on fire intentionally.  But melted cheese still makes me happy.  I was craving some so I made grilled cheese sandwiches. Whoever invented the sandwich is a genius.  That quick, easy, thrown together lunch (or breakfast or dinner).  A sandwich can be a quickie meal, or it can be art.  Yes…ART!  With a little imagination and a few things from the pantry, you can elevate a humble grilled cheese sandwich to mouth-watering, edible art.

In Taos, New Mexico there used to be a little cafe where I had a grilled mozzarella and olive tapenade sandwich.  I never got the recipe from them but I immediately went home and started experimenting, trying to replicate it.  I don’t know if I got it exactly the same as theirs but I came close and it’s amazing.  Up until then, I thought olive tapenade was just one of those fancy things you ordered in a restaurant for an appetizer.  I had no idea it was so easy to make.  It’s just a paste made from olives, and a few other tasty things.  And who ever thought of putting it on a sandwich?  I don’t know, but whoever it was would get a big smooch right on the lips if they were standing in front of me.

I made a big batch of Olive Tapenade and added sun-dried tomatoes, just for fun and because I had them.  I have lots left so now I guess I’ll just have to find something fun to do with the rest of it.  Hmmm…I feel some experimenting coming on.

Grilled Mozzarella & Olive Tapenade Sandwich

Grilled Mozzarella & Olive Tapenade Sandwich

Sourdough or rustic french bread
Sliced mozzarella cheese (preferably fresh mozzarella)
Olive tapenade (about a tablespoon per sandwich) – Recipe below or you can buy it in the grocery store.
Butter

Heat your skillet on medium heat.  Lightly butter one side of both pieces of bread.  Put one down in the pan and cover with mozzarella.  Take the other piece of bread and spread tapenade on the unbuttered side.  Put the olive side down on the cheese.  Cook a couple minutes on each side, until golden brown and melty.

Olive & Sun-dried Tomato Tapenade

I jar pitted kalamata olives
1 tbsp. capers
6-8 sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. fresh basil
1 tsp. orange zest
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper

Blend all ingredients in a food processor.  Store leftovers in airtight container in the fridge.  It will keep for several weeks.

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