It's funny how food - especially this time of year - can hold so many memories for us. Oh sure, a lot of it is our olfactory sense, but the flavors are pretty powerful reminders themselves.
Olive Tapenade Crostini. I used kalamata olives, green olives stuffed with garlic and capers with fresh basil, lemon juice and goat cheese to create a tasty appetizer.
Mr. Juggling Act is Italian through and through (well, and an eighth Irish, but for this post, let's just go with Italian, ok?) His grandparents were first generation Americans. His family loves Italian food. As mere teens when we dated, their family functions always opened my eyes to different kinds of foods and traditions. One of my favorites is their big Christmas Eve feast which includes the traditional red sauce with fish, (plus a regular sauce for those that don't care for it), cavatelli, lots of meatballs and braciola, all homemade of course. The sideboard is covered with lots of delicious appetizers - everything from the mandatory antipasto plate to shrimp cocktail.
Mr. Juggling Act's grandparents are getting older, and the festivities have been scaled back, and are usually held at someone else's house. And with our own little family living in another state now, and lots of obligations to see different family members, we aren't always able to make it Christmas Eve. This year, I thought I would make something that would remind Mr. Juggling Act of his Italian roots using olives and capers. I wanted to make something that's not necessarily what his grandparents make, but deliciously flavorful all the same.
Olive Tapenade Crostini
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- 1 jar kalamata olives
- 5 green garlic stuffed olives
- 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
- 2 taplespoons capers
- juice from ½ lemon
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil plus more for the crostini
- 1 large garlic clove sliced in half for the crostini
- 3 large basil leaves
- freshly ground black pepper
- French baguette
- diced tomatoes
- goat cheese or cream cheese
- Drain and rinse the olives with cool water. Add the olives, anchovy paste, capers, lemon juice and olive oil to a food processor. Chop until the mixture is a coarse paste.
- Cut the bread on a diagonal. Brush each pieces with the olive oil on both sides. Toast in a 375-degree oven for 4 minutes, then turn over and cook for another 4. Remove from the tray and allow to cool for 1 minute, then gently rub one side with the sliced garlic.
- The great thing about this tapenade is you can serve it a variety of ways. For a quick make ahead version, you can throw this together up to 2 days ahead, including the crostini. Serve the tapenade in a bowl alongside the crostini and your antipasto plate. Guests can add items from the antipasto like roasted red peppers or cheeses, as desired. This works great for a large group.
- For a more polished appetizer (and a smaller party), spread each crostini with about 1 teaspoon of goat cheese, or, if you prefer, cream cheese spread. Put in a 350-degree oven until the cheese is warm - about 3-5 minutes. Top with the tapenade and a bit of basil (chopped as a chiffonade). These would also be tasty with some diced tomato on top to brighten up the flavor.
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