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An Ode to Olives

My favorite snack at my grandmother’s house when I was little was a bowl of olives – green or black. My love for olives is still strong. While strolling the aisles of Wegman’s last week, I discovered the most beautiful olive bar.

It made me crave my favorite olive dip – olive tapenade. I’ve made this for several parties and it’s always a hit. It works for your vegan and vegetarian guests. And it is super easy to make.  Serve with crackers, flatbread, baguette, or slices of a toasted artisan bread. Or use it in salads, sandwiches, or omelets.

Some tapenades are a bit fancy – a little anchovy fillet maybe some capers. I prefer to keep it simple.

Olive Tapenade

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup black olives
  • 1/2 cup green olives
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

Directions

Add the olives, garlic and lemon juice to food processor. Pulse 2-4 times until broken up. Drizzle in the olive oil and process until smooth and well blended.

But if you don’t know much about olives or haven’t experimented with them, this “Olive for Dummies” tutorial will get you up to speed:

Variety Description
Cerignola This enormous olive is sold both green and black. The green variety has a mild and vegetal flavor. When black, the flesh is softer and sweeter, and the pit is much easier to remove.
Gaeta Small brownish black olive that can be hard to pit, but the flavor, which is reminiscent of nuts, is worth the effort.
Kalamata A plump, purplish black Greek variety that’s especially popular in U.S. markets and a good choice in most recipes calling for black olives.
Niçoise This small, brownish purple variety grows in southern France. Removing the large pits from these chewy, flavorful olives is hard.
Oil-Cured These wrinkled black olives have a meaty, chewy texture and are often very salty.
Sicilian Green Sometimes called Sicilian Colossals, these oversized olives have a dense, somewhat sour or tart flesh.

Food Shopping 101

Many kids have memories of food shopping with their moms, pulling items on the shelf, begging for that candy bar at checkout. I am not one of those kids. I honestly have no memory of food shopping with my mom as a kid. I’m not even sure how food got into our house.

My mom didn’t get her license until I was 8 and didn’t like to drive far once she did. Then the unthinkable happened – the local Acme (a mere four blocks from our house) burned to the ground when I was 15. It was tragic. Would we ever eat again? What would become of us?

Unlike my dear sweet momma, I love shopping for food. Whether it’s a farmers market or a big old supermarket, I enjoy roaming the stands or aisles and putting meal ideas together as I shop. Earlier this week I took a mini road trip to the King of Prussia Wegmans. It was as fabulous as I expected. Enormous, sleek, clean and chock full of speciality kiosks like a gourmet cheese counter and a Mediterranean bar with fresh olives, tapenade, artichokes. I didn’t know what to grab first, but eventually settled on some fresh mozzarella, a salty, melt in your mouth bleu cheese, an organic whole chicken and some gluten-free pizza shells. And if I were single and hated to cook I’d probably move in just for the take out thai, asian and indian hot bar.

Today, I kept things a bit more simple at the Bryn Mawr Farmers Market where I made some new, local discoveries:

  • Momspops – homemade popsicles that are vegan and dairy, gluten, soy, and nut free. They are made by a local mother and son. Ryan tried the Chocolate Sea Salt. Delicious. Plus it made me happy to see swirls of little kids running around with popsicle juice all over their faces (including Ryan).
  • Good Spoon Soups – a variety of wholesome soups and stews for all seasons, available packaged for retail sale or in bulk for wholesale food service. Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options are regularly available. We sampled the Sweet Corn Poblano Bisque and bought a quart to take home. Sweet, spicy and good hot or cold.

Check these folks out at your next visit to the farmers market. And if this is not enough incentive I heard that Harrison Ford was at today’s Rittenhouse Square market. Add that to the list of “things I hate to hear since I moved out of the city.” 

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