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Posts Tagged ‘magic cheese’

Making my own olive tapenade has been on my list for a while, and had I known just how easy it is to make, I wouldn’t have waited so long.

I’m not sure where I got the idea that olive tapenade was complicated.  Probably the price.  Little jars have price tags much higher than a regular can of olives, so I figured that there had to be special secret ingredients.

Today I picked up a store brand jar of olive tapenade, and when I was finished shuddering at the sodium content (46% for the green olive tapenade and 38% for the black per serving), I read the ingredients list, which turned out to be olives, olive oil, garlic, mushrooms, spices and salt. Since I already had everything else, I bought two six-ounce cans of pitted olives, one black and one green.

When I got home, I did a little research to find out what the “spices” might entail and looked at a few different recipes — some called for sun dried tomatoes and others for capers and anchovies.

It turns out that this is one of those fabulous recipes where you pull out the food processor, throw in the ingredients, pulse to desired consistency and voila!  Yumminess.

I decided on:
6 ounces each of black and green olives, pitted and drained
4 or 5 small portabella mushrooms
1 small jar of oven dried organic sunburst tomatoes (somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 cup) and their associated 3 roasted garlic cloves, seasonings and coating of olive oil (which I had made about a week ago but had not yet figured out how to use)
1 anchovy filet packed in olive oil
1 tsp (total guess) Pasta Sprinkle

Once everything was pretty well blended, I added a little bit more olive oil, maybe a tablespoon.  There is enough moisture and oil to be had in the ingredients that you really don’t need much.  If you prefer the spread to be a little more chunky and crumbly (think tabbouli salad), you could omit it all together.

I didn’t feel a need to add any salt beyond what was in the ingredients, although a little flake salt sprinkled over the top after spreading the tapenade on bread or cheese (or both) would not be untoward.  Also, for those who like pepper, by all means grind in as much as your taste buds desire.

I considered adding my favorite magic cheese, but decided I could sprinkle a bit on later if the mood struck me.

Spread on freshly baked Italian bread, and yum!  No, let’s make that YUM!!!  Also very tasty on Brie, with or without the bread.  Or stuffed into a small mushroom.

The difference between homemade and store bought is on an order of magnitude similar to that of making your own marinara sauce with organic tomatoes rather than opening a jar.

And did I mention how simple it is?  Open a couple of cans or jars, and the food processor does the rest.

If you like olives, you will be hooked in a heartbeat and thinking about the possible variations — Kalamata, Spanish, California, etc., alone or in combination, with or without sun-dried tomatoes, capers, anchovies.  Play with the seasonings to see which olives like which herbs.  Maybe even add a chile for kick, if you are in to that sort of thing.

Now I need to go learn about olives.

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As I sat down to eat my tuna salad on tomato slices, I couldn’t help thinking that while tasty, they might be missing something.  Perhaps a salad or a side of steamed vegetables.  Then I thought — eggs!  An egg would be just the thing.  Initially I thought a few slices of warm, hard boiled egg, but then I thought “tuna melt meets eggs Benedict”: toasted English muffin (or stick with the tomato slices), plus tuna salad, plus egg, plus hollandaise sauce and/or Swiss cheese or perhaps pesto, assembled and toasted or broiled until heated through and browned on top.

I’m salivating with curiosity.  Anyone else?  Yes?  No?

Tuna Salad on Tomato Slices
1 Medium to large tomato, sliced crosswise
(Mine was a little smaller than a softball, and I got four probably 1/4-inch slices after cutting off the top.)
1 5-ounce can Wild Planet Skipjack light tuna, *undrained*
1 Rib celery, finely chopped
Mustard to taste
(I used whole grain dijon, probably between 1/2 and 1 tsp.)
Mayo or Miracle Whip to taste
(I used about 2 tsp of Miracle Whip light.)
Small handful magic cheese
Sunny Paris seasoning

Arrange tomato slices on a plate and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper or to taste.

Mix the tuna, celery, mustard, and Miracle Whip in a bowl until well blended.

Sprinkle in the cheese and a few shakes of Sunny Paris seasoning and mix again.

Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.

Pile the tuna on the tomato slices until the bowl is empty.

Enjoy!

Food riff: Sprouts, baby spinach leaves, small leaves of lettuce, fresh basil or other fresh herbs of preference could easily be layered over the tomatoes before piling on the tuna.  A thin slice of Swiss or cheddar or Harvarti or mozzarella could be used in addition to or instead of the greenery.  Alternately, the cheese could go over the top and the lot could be toasted or set under the broiler for a few minutes and then perhaps even topped with a touch of marinara or salsa.  As with the salmon salad of a recent post, garlic and/or onions could add a bit of zing and relish a bit of crunch.  Maybe even mix the tuna with pesto rather than mustard and mayo.

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