Tapenade is a lot like hummus and not because it can be found on the olive bar of your local supermarket. No, tapenade is like hummus because it’s an absolutely brainless enterprise to make and it’s universally enjoyed. Think about it. Prepare by tossing a bunch of stuff in a food processor, pureeing, and drizzling in olive oil until creamy. Serve with pita, crostini, crackers or small spoon. The ingredients vary from recipe to recipe but the spirit is still the same. It’s best when salty and mild in its base flavor (chickpeas for the hummus; olive for the tapenade).
My friend Allison makes the finest tapenade I’ve ever consumed and she refuses to share the recipe, telling me that it’s her retirement plan. Given the stock market’s performance and the GOP’s itchy trigger finger on public employee pensions, I would say that the olive spread is a safer bet. During an evening of alcohol consumption, I guessed six of the seven ingredients but she would not reveal them all. I suppose I cannot begrudge a woman her nest egg.
The one thing that tapenade has that hummus does not is versatility. Beyond a dip or salad topping, there’s really not a lot one can do with it. I’ve tried it on chicken before with poor, poor results. Tapenade, however, is perfect as a stuffing or topping for a protein. In this instance, it went inside of a pork tenderloin with some extra sharp provolone and on the grill.
WHAT WORKED: I opted for a more Latin-inspired green olive tapenade instead of a Mediterranean kalamata olive tapenade. It was milder in its flavor but still did the trick.
WHAT DIDN’T: If I did this again, I would just use sharp provolone. Extra sharp is just too powerful.
EASE OF PREPARATION: Medium because it involves tying things together and knowing when the meat has come to proper temperature. And, I’m awful at cutting stuffed meat.
BEST FOR: Switching up the mid-week grilling routine.
SERVE WITH: Extra tapenade and some pita.