Tapenade or Pesto - Oven-Dried Tomato, Pecan, Basil Spread

Did I mention I had a freezer full of tomatoes? Well, I do. Oven roasted, slow roasted, and oven-dried. Containers and containers filled with jewel colored, candy tasting goblets of goodness.

My cart with 4 - 25lb boxes. Seemed like a good idea at the time but when I got home I thought, Wow this might take a while!

My cart with 4 - 25lb boxes. Seemed like a good idea at the time but when I got home I thought, Wow this might take a while!

This wasn’t even 25 full lbs. I had oodles more of roasting to go!! But I persevered with spectacular rewards.

This wasn’t even 25 full lbs. I had oodles more of roasting to go!! But I persevered with spectacular rewards.

The tomatoes come out tender with concentration flavor. Sweet like candy but with a savory richness that enhances any dish. These are the oil roasted ones. I used oven dried for this spread recipe. No oil is used when oven drying tomatoes. But as you can see, the oil roasting method uses a ton of oil. I use Oleo, a Spanish Olive Oil from Spain. You can buy it at   Despaña  .

The tomatoes come out tender with concentration flavor. Sweet like candy but with a savory richness that enhances any dish. These are the oil roasted ones. I used oven dried for this spread recipe. No oil is used when oven drying tomatoes. But as you can see, the oil roasting method uses a ton of oil. I use Oleo, a Spanish Olive Oil from Spain. You can buy it at Despaña.

This is the way to oven dry the tomatoes. No oil is added, as you want them to dry out slowly in a low temp oven for 8-10 hours.   Recipe here

This is the way to oven dry the tomatoes. No oil is added, as you want them to dry out slowly in a low temp oven for 8-10 hours. Recipe here

To store them, all you need to do is place them in an airtight jar, fill with fresh olive oil and store in the fridge. They last months like this.

To store them, all you need to do is place them in an airtight jar, fill with fresh olive oil and store in the fridge. They last months like this.

I will admit that I went overboard this tomato season but I felt I had good cause. I was stocking up for a family trip in November. Truth be told, even with that trip I was as gluttonous as Violet from Willy Wonka, but instead of turning blueberry violet, I’m a gorgeous shade of ruby red.

In my quest to provide you… and me, with ideas on how to use up your tomatoes, I came up with this spread of sorts. It’s almost like a pesto, but not quite. It’s half tapenade and half pesto. Tapenesto? Pestenade? Ugh, It’s a concoction. How’s that for a name?

Seriously as easy as: blend it up, pour it out, spread it on anything type of recipe.

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Ingredients

5-6 oven dried tomatoes (or sun-dried)
3 oven roasted garlic cloves
4 c basil, loosely packed
2/3 c oil
1 t salt
1/4 t lemon zest
2 T lemon juice
1 1/3 c pecans, toasted

Toasted pecans

Toasted pecans


Instructions

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  1. Toast the pecans in a pan over low heat or in the oven just until lightly toasted.

  2. In a blender or food processor, buzz up the roasted garlic and oven dried tomatoes until chunky.

  3. Add the basil, and buzz until combined

  4. Add the pecans

  5. Drizzle in oil, add salt, lemon zest and juice and buzz until chunky consistency.

Basil, so green and fresh, it will add that herbaceous quality to this ‘dip’.

Basil, so green and fresh, it will add that herbaceous quality to this ‘dip’.

Rich, liquid gold pouring in.

Rich, liquid gold pouring in.

I made this spread without any real need for it but just the desire to test it out. This is me back to my old tricks. Experimenting with no agenda. I’m sure glad I did, ‘cause two weeks later we had weekend guests and it was the perfect compliment to my cheese board. It goes great on bread, perfect on crackers and zippy on cucumbers.

Cheeses from Spain found at Despaña:   Majorero Pimenton  ,   Zamorano  ,   Mahon Curado

Cheeses from Spain found at Despaña: Majorero Pimenton, Zamorano, Mahon Curado

I’m sure this ‘whatever’ you call it spread would be lovely on grilled chicken or even fish or roasted vegetables. These are the types of ‘whip ‘em up’ ideas I love. The ones that aren’t picky how you use them. They are happy to play on anyone’s plate in any fashion you can think up. And the thing I also learned about this little tapenesto pestenade was that it lasts for 2-3 weeks in an airtight container. How’s that for work horse?

Up close and personal. Rich and deep in flavor.

Up close and personal. Rich and deep in flavor.

Name it whatever you like, but it goes with feta cheese, Middle Eastern fare, Italian fare, yada yada yada.

Name it whatever you like, but it goes with feta cheese, Middle Eastern fare, Italian fare, yada yada yada.

Spread it on bread add fontina cheese and arugula, some dried cured meat and slap the crusty bread… shut…up and eat.

Spread it on bread add fontina cheese and arugula, some dried cured meat and slap the crusty bread… shut…up and eat.

Oh, I’ve fallen in love again. A pesto/tapenade concoction that will have you not caring what you call it. Just as long as you can make it, spread it and devour it.

Ba Ba Ba Basil-ed Potato Salad

Summertime and potato salad go together like hamburgers and buns. How many picnics, BBQ's and big family gathering tables don this starchy delight during the season?  It's the 'go-to' hearty salad that everyone expects. Yet, serving mayo in the hot sun might not be the wisest choice. Hell, it might be down right dangerous.  

I'm all about giving guests food they love, but I'm also hooked on introducing new dishes or serving old favorites with a twist.

Best approach. Use what's in season to make your statement. You know what's in glorious abundance now? Basil. Oh, that smell.  That floral, herbal bouquet that makes you want to actually BE a green leaf.  (I had an distant uncle who loved basil so much he used to roll it up and shove it up his nose.  As a kid, this grossed me out big time, but somehow now I'm feeling that nasal basil vibe. Funny how time and perspective can change.)

Uses for basil = a Zillion.  That is an understatement. Try infinite.  Given how many ways you can use it I even thought I would write a post entitled 3 ways to basil up your meal.  But settled on the laser focus of revamping potato salad instead.  

I have been making a version of potato salad like this for a while, and even more so now since JC and I don't eat eggs, thus no mayo.   But here are a few motives for you.

  1. It tastes frigging AWESOME.

  2. Without the mayo, it's less calories and as a bonus won't spoil in the sun.

  3. It's super easy with just a few ingredients.

(Seriously, I don't know why I count the reasons down since I could continue on and on. But three should be enough to convince you.)

I would say that basil is the star in this show with potatoes and garlic nudging their way to leading role status.  I'm not going to yammer on too much longer since we need to just get right to making this jacked up flavor bomb for potatoes.   The smell is going to knock you over.

The star, Basil and the rest of the gang: Potatoes, garlic, sea salt, oil. I used course  Bevia Sea Salt from Despaña .

The star, Basil and the rest of the gang: Potatoes, garlic, sea salt, oil. I used course Bevia Sea Salt from Despaña.

Ingredients

8 c Potatoes (any style/ I like using new or fingerlings)
2 c Basil  
3-4 Garlic cloves. medium
1 t course Sea Salt
1/4 t Whole Peppercorns
1/2 c Olive Oil

Instructions

Cut the potatoes in bite sized pieces. Boil or roast them.  

While those are cooking away, prepare the dressing.  I like using a mortar and pestle for small batches but using a mini blender, processor is best for bigger batches as well as gives you a nice consistency.

For the mortar and pestle: Crush the garlic using coarse sea salt to break it down.  Add the peppercorns.  Add a handful of the fragrant basil leaves and crush them to make a paste.  Then pour in the oil and stir together.  

For the mini blender: Smash the garlic first then add all the ingredients minus the oil.  For this method, use crushed black pepper intead of whole peppercorns.  Pulse until minced. Then add the oil to blend.

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Chopped up and packed with basil essence.

Chopped up and packed with basil essence.

A very important note that I often times do not write.  Taste as you go. Although I give ingredient amounts, the basil and garlic you are using may be more or less intense than mine. And when using so few and such fresh ingredients it's all about the flavor. It might need a little more salt or garlic.  Taste, taste, taste.  Once you love it, then pour the mixture over the 'taters while they are still warm.  The warmth helps the flavor absorb into the them. Stand back and let the aroma waft over you.

I once made this dish last minute when friends stopped over.  They were so blown away by the intense bouquet of basil and garlic that they could not believe how simple it was and how few ingredients it had. Use this over anything really.  Here I go again with a list that could go on, but this is a start.

  • Grilled Chicken or Meat

  • Grilled or Roasted Fish

  • PASTA, duh

  • Rice

  • Roasted Cauliflower, Zucchini or any vegetable

Well, you get the picture.  No cook, no fuss Basil Blasted Sauce.  Use it on everything. Just a warning, because of the raw garlic, brushing your teeth afterwards is a good idea!

Geez, did I forget to add heirloom tomatoes to the list...  Happy Summer (without spoiled mayo!)