French in a Flash: Artichoke and Green Olive Pantry Tapenade


[Photograph: Kerry Saretsky]

When I come home late from work, as I have been lately, I don't really want a full dinner. I don't want to spend an hour in the kitchen, and I don't want to spend an hour at the table. I want something vibrant and light and life-giving. Something that will brighten up my evening and get me to the next morning. No more, and no less.

This unorthodox tapenade is my weeknight winner. Most tapenades starts with black niçoise olives; this one uses briny, bright green olives. And, even more unique, while olives are usually center stage in tapenade, this tapenade is a double act of green olives and artichoke hearts. The artichokes add their own texture and flavor, and they cut through that strident saltiness of the olives with a mellow Mediterranean creaminess. I make a point to use the artichokes and olive that can sit for weeks in jars or cans in your pantry. The rest of the flavors are always on hand in my home and easy to keep around: anchovy paste, herbes de Provence, garlic, Parmesan, lemon, and parsley.

So when, like tonight, I come home at nine o'clock wondering what I will scrape together, I have this bright, vegetal, versatile thing I can whip up in the food processor in five minutes. Then, I can pile it high on toast, mix it with canned tuna, dollop it on grilled fish, smash it with melty mozzarella in a panini, or serve it with crudités and a well-deserved glass of white wine. That is truly French in a flash, in a pinch.

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Artichoke and Green Olive Pantry Tapenade »