Enjoy healthy fats in tasty olive tapenade dip


What is your favorite room in your home and why? For many years now I’ve encountered that “ice breaker/get to know you” question at women’s retreats, bible studies and small group meetings.

I’ve never really had a convincing answer. Until now. And it’s all because of the white slipcovers on my sofa.

Once upon a time I had an acquaintance, a friend of a friend of a friend, who had a beautiful home in the Pacific Northwest. She and her husband were quite wealthy.

She hadn’t set foot in a grocery store in years (her cook did the grocery shopping), didn’t put gas in her car any longer (her grounds keeper took care of that), and never had to try on clothes in a mall (her personal assistant brought racks of clothes to her home).

Of all of the glamorous things in her lifestyle, the one that I was most impressed with: she had different couch slipcovers for each season of the year – spring, summer, fall and winter. Now THAT was remarkable to my then 29-year-old mind.

At the time, my husband and I had been married just over a year. Like many newlyweds, we had mismatched furniture and a hodge-podge of items that had been given to us. And since we were more interested in spending our money on travel than on furniture, our home décor leaned more towards “thrift store” than it did Pottery Barn.

When we started having children, we realized that we were fortunate to not have expensive furniture. Potty training, stomach flu and snotty noses? Not a problem! Spilled cereal, drippy popsicles, Oreo crumbs? The couch had seen it all before.

As our children grew up, we have replaced our thrift store finds with nicer furniture. Stuff that matches. And my pet piece? A couch with two sets of slipcovers.

Since we have only two seasons here in Southern California, hot and not-so-hot, I decided that two sets of slipcovers are adequate. A warm grey for the not-so-hot months and white for the hot months.

Am I crazy for getting white slipcovers on a couch while I still have children at home? Well, sort of. But my kids are older now. And the slipcovers are washable. Plus, they make me feel like I’m in a 1983 Bain du Soleil “for the St. Tropez tan” advertisement.

This week’s recipe from the Serious Eats website is a popular spread in the south of France and places like St. Tropez. Black olive tapenade is a tasty dip for cut-up veggies or a spread on bread and crackers and is full of healthy fats from the olives and olive oil.

I don’t recommend you eat it while sitting on a white couch, but it’s your call.

Unlike that acquaintance of mine, I still shop at the grocery store, pump my own gas and try on clothes at the mall.

But those white slipcovers have made that room my favorite one in the house.


Black Olive Tapenade

  • A14-PIC-Cook1/2 cup pitted black olives
  •       (Niçoise, Kalamata or oil-cured olives)
  • 1 Tbsp. drained capers
  • 2 drained oil-packed anchovy fillets
  • 3 medium cloves garlic
  • 5 basil leaves (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp. loosely packed fresh oregano, or marjoram, or thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. fresh juice from 1 lemon
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, if needed

If using a food processor: Combine olives, capers, anchovies, garlic, basil (if using), other herbs, and mustard in the work bowl and process, scraping down the sides, until a finely chopped paste forms. Process in lemon juice. With the processor running, drizzle in just enough olive oil to loosen to a spreadable paste, about 2 tablespoons. Season with salt and pepper only if needed.

If using a mortar and pestle: Roughly chop olives, capers, anchovies and garlic, then add to mortar with basil (if using) and other herbs. Tap, crush and smash with pestle until ingredients have been reduced to a thick paste (a little chunkiness is okay). Using pestle, work in mustard and lemon juice, then drizzle in just enough olive oil to form a spreadable paste, about 2 tablespoons. Season with salt and pepper only if needed.


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