Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Foodie

I love Olive Tapenade. It has that wonderful salty olive goodness that is great on everything from pizza to sandwiches to pasta to chicken to fish. Huge spoonfuls of olive yumminess (drool dripping onto brand new laptop. Must STOP thinking about it). I could eat it like breakfast cereal. OMG, I have eaten it like breakfast cereal.

Last Saturday I was craving olive tapenade with hummus on pita bread. Nothing would do but that I had olive tapenade RIGHT. NOW. Quick search of the refrigerator revealed no tapenade, olive or otherwise. What's a desparate woman to do? Run right out to the store? No, not me. That would be too easy.I made my own out of ingredients that I had at home.

While in my grip of tapenade madness I dragged my friend Lisa under the bus with me. That's just the kind of friend I am. (why, oh why does the blogger spell checker want to turn tapenade into tapeworm? Tapeworm would not taste near so good. Or I don't think it would never having eaten tapeworm. Can you eat tapeworm? Should I just shut up about tapeworms?)

Here is what we did:

1 jar Napa Valley Bistro - Mediterranean Antipasto with Herbs & Napa Valley Merlot
1 can black olives
1/2 jar green olives stuffed with pimento

I got the jar of antipasto as a gift at Christmas and was pretty sure I'd never use it. My family just doesn't seem to go for this type of thing (we're common folk). This is a mixed bag of things. It had Kalamata olives, green olives, peppers, and garlic. All good stuff. (Don't go out to buy something like this. Use whatever you might have around the house.) We drained off the liquid into a bowl, pitted the Kalamata olives, cut the stems from the peppers and tried to pit the green olives. Those puppies were tough to work with. Quit trying to pit these little turds (by throwing one on the floor and stomping on it all the while swearing profusely) by calmly reaching for the jar of martini olives.

Yeah, this was a sacrifice but I was willing to make it. We drained a can of black olives also. Everything went into the food processor with the dangerous blade thingy in place. We pulsed this about 10 to 15 times so that everything was chopped up pretty fine but not mush. You could drizzle a little olive oil in to make it more of a paste.

Serve in a fancy bowl because it deserves it or you could do what I did; grab great handfuls and smear it into my mouth like a 1 year old baby with birthday cake.

Frugal tip:
Have you got those little bits of leftovers hanging out in your refrigerator? The cup of rice from dinner 2 days ago, that half cup of veggies from dinner last night, that sauce from the pasta that is not enough for a meal by itself but too much to throw away.

If you are anything like me (which you are probably not because you are sane) you feel guilty throwing these bits and bobs of breakfast, lunch, or dinner in the trash. I tend to place these into the refrigerator, pushing them further and further back then leaving them there until they turn into science fair projects.

When the boys were in school these green fuzzy containers would have made great projects for that biology class. I was saving it for them. I wanted them to do well in science. That's my story about why this happened in my fridge with disgusting regularity and I'm sticking to it.

Now, if you tell me you never ever do this I'll believe you because I'm gullible. If you are willing to come clean then let me give you an idea of what to do with these meal droppings.

Upon inspection of my fridge Sunday afternoon I discovered that I had the following:

2 cups roasted potatoes, carrots, yellow squash & zucchini with Italian herbs from dinner 3 nights before
1 cup of Swiss cheese and portabella mushroom dip from the party
1 cup cooked white rice from dinner 2 nights before
1/2 loaf of french bread
Parmesan cheese

I had 3 choices;
1. a casserole;
2. soup;
3. science fair fodder.
Monty, I chose door number 2

I pulled out the food processor to grind up the roasted veggies. I tossed that mush into a big soup pot, added the party dip and rice. Poured in 3 cans (about 4 cups) of veggie broth and one can of stewed tomatoes with Italian seasonings. (see a theme here? Getting this to taste good you have to make it all about the theme). I simmered this for about 30 minutes. I wanted this a little smoother so hit it with the hand held blender but rustic would have worked.

I toasted one side of the french bread under the broiler, flipped them over, topped with Parmesan cheese, and melted that under the broiler. These I put on top of each bowl of soup like a big crouton. Oh yeah!

I've been making leftover soup for years. In that time I've had some major successes and some major failures. Sunday night's soup was a hit. 3 out of 5 went back for seconds. That's a win!

The key to leftover soup is the theme. If you are using leftovers that have a theme; Italian, Mexican, whatever anything that you add needs to go with the theme.

Leftovers from taco night; taco meat (not at this house but you could have it), Mexican rice, refried beans, cheddar cheese, hard taco shells. Hmmmm...what would I do?

Toss the meat, rice, beans into a pot with beef broth (or veggie or chicken) let simmer for about 20 minutes. Top each bowl with cheese and crunched up taco shells. Voila! Dinner!

Your leftovers need not linger in your fridge to become those fuzzy green science projects. With a little creativity they can become a fantastic (or at least edible) dinner.



  1. I hated olives when I was younger, but lately have developed a liking for ripe olives are just too, I don't know, briney for me? However, I may try your tapenade - it sounds like it could be yummy.

    Yes, I'm the kind of person that tends to let leftovers in the fridge turn into science experiments, but when I DO catch myself in time to do something with them, I tend to make casseroles. The male types I live with just prefer casseroles over soups.

  2. You are a leftover soup genius!! I would not have thought of this, but I love the idea!!!

    I'm totally busting out the olive tapenade for dinner this weekend!!!

  3. Normally your concoctions make my mouth water, but this one scares me. I hate with a passion, olives.

  4. I love stopping here for cooking ideas! The left over for soup is great. Usually those little dishes wind up as chicken feed, but I will try your recipe for sure. Just plain grain for those hens now.


  5. i make this for christmas dinner to serve along side my beef tenderloin - OMG SCRUMPTIOUS!

  6. I love olives.

    I might have to give this one a try.

    And your soup sounds super impressive.

  7. Your fridge has the coolest things in it. Stuff you had lying around? I think THINK I have flour somewhere in the house. i am not worthy.

  8. It seems like whenever I read your blog and you've written a post about some kind of truly awesome food, I'm eating something totally mediocre. Right now I'm eating a Krispy Creme donut. For real.

  9. Did you look in my fridge and get inspired to write this post? I usually stick the kid's uneaten portions of food in the fridge and they get pushed to the back until Jamie comes along and pitches them.

  10. I want that right now. I don't care how you make it, I want to eat it. Now.

  11. Funny story: everything I know about tapenade I learned watching iCarly and reading your post. I'd never heard of tapenade until watching an episode of iCarly and her nemesis tries to feed some to her. I'll have to take your word for how good it is as I can't stand olives (unless they're cooked on a pizza with a bunch of other junk).

  12. I have to be honest. I would rather eat sand than olives. I have no idea why because the rest of the family loves them. The recipe for a homemade ice cream sandwich you say? I'll take it

  13. i never eat olive about the taste??

  14. Mmmmmmmm Olives. I have never met an olive that I didn't like. Cheers Michele!!

  15. Oh, yum, Michele. Leftovers are like gold -- or they are guilt-inducing reminders of wasted money as they mold away in the fridge. I like your way much better.

  16. Oh, we have many "clean out the fridge" nights. Sometimes as a stir-fry, sometimes as a quesadilla. And we always have olives; my friend Mark once asked me if we had an olive maker in our fridge.


  17. Are you going to cook for me when I come to Houston?

    No really. I'm being serious.