I hope that everyone had a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving. We had a great day, celebrated with some soon to be extended family members. This year, I was tasked with baking rolls for dinner, making an appetizer, and a dessert. One of the apps I made was something that I had seen in Gourmet Magazine years ago. Theirs was a Spanish olive version, but I chose to go in a different direction.
Tapenade is typically used as a spread, and often contains anchovies and/or brandy. I always hear that anchovies blend into a dish and are undetectable, but I can't even imagine me handling them, so I passed. As for the brandy, in looking at various recipes, there is such a small amount called for, I didn't bother buying a bottle just for this.
What turns me off about most Tapenade recipes is the photos. Sadly, mine don't do these bites justice, but that's not how I meant it -- most recipes puree the olives all the way into a paste. Even if I loved all of the ingredients, I don't think I could bring myself to eat a gray blob.
I was first thinking that I would leave some olives aside to mince and sprinkle on top, but when I was pulsing to puree them, I made sure to stop when you could still see all the little bits, pieces, and various colors. Others suggest using a mortar and pestle, but again, I find the color unappetizing, so if you don't have a food processor and want to go that route, I would suggest leaving a few of each item aside to mince and blend in at the end for texture and visual appeal.
1 c pitted Kalamata Olives
1 c Colossal Green Olives
8 Peppadew Peppers
2 T Capers
1 large clove Garlic
1 T fresh-squeezed Lemon Juice
1 T Balsamic Vinegar
3 T fresh chopped cilantro (additional for garnish)
In the bowl of your food processor, pulse together the olives, peppers, capers, and garlic. Add the lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil and give it another whirl or two until you achieve a texture you are happy with.
At this point, I tasted the mixture and thought ... uh oh, I don't think I'm going to like this?!?! L
Because I was making the filling two days early, I decided to not worry about it. I had already decided to add the cilantro at the last minute so it wouldn't discolor in the meantime, and figured I could doctor it up later.
I brought all of my tomatoes, my filling, and cilantro up to my sister's house for Thanksgiving, having gone early in case there was anything I could do to help. I tasted the mixture again there and realized that it had really just needed time for the flavors to blend. Pfeww!! I added the cilantro and a tablespoon of Balsamic Vinegar and was good to go! J
If you have enough to spare, you can sprinkle some additional cilantro onto a platter to give your tomatoes something to grip and stand up on.
Slice the stem end off of each tomato, hollow out the center and fill with the Tapenade mixture. Sprinkle cilantro over the top of the platter when filled.
I was curious (translation = nervous) to see how these would go over with the crowd. There were so many items to chose from, I noticed that a number of people never got around to trying one. However, I also noticed that the people who did try them went back for several, so that made me happy. I would not hesitate to make these again (intentionally giving the mixture time to sit and come together), but hope that I can find slightly larger tomatoes next time. For some reason, all of the cherry tomatoes I found were closer to the size of a grape tomato. It would be nice if I could find some yellow as well.