I always thought tapenade was just a mixture of smashed-up olives, and I never understood the fuss. Turns out it's a much more complex dish, where other bold flavors mingle with the assertive olives to create something that can be a dip, topping, or spread. This version mixes in sweet roasted red peppers and lots of lemon for a citrus-y punch.
The heartbeat of tapenade of course lies in olives. I like Nicoise olives here, although you can really use whatever variety you like, as long as they're already pitted to make your life much easier. The other ingredients that get thrown in all add unique flavors: roasted red peppers for sweetness, anchovy for salt and depth, garlic for spice, oregano for freshness, and both lemon zest and lemon juice for brightness.
A quick buzz in the food processor and the tapenade is ready after only a few minutes of prep time. Treat it as a dip for snacking, spread it on bread for sandwiches, or even use it to top grilled fish or chicken. A jar of tapenade in the refrigerator will never go to waste.
Roasted Red Pepper Tapenade
Makes 1 1/4 cups
1 1/4 cups pitted Nicoise olives (from a 12-ounce jar)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped roasted red peppers
2 anchovy fillets, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves
1 medium lemon
Crackers, crostini, or vegetables, for serving
Place the olives, peppers, anchovy, oil, garlic, and oregano in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Using a Microplane, finely zest the lemon into the food processor. Juice the lemon and add 2 teaspoons of the juice to the food processor.
Pulse until a coarse paste is formed, about 5 (1-second) pulses. Taste and season with more lemon juice as needed. Serve with crackers, crostini, or vegetables.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Bring to room temperature before serving.
(Image credits: Maria Siriano)