It's summertime. How about some tapenade, nice crunchy french bread toasts topped with yummy goodness. Open a bottle of Lodi wine or a chilled glass of beer and sit and enjoy the Season. I love this time of year!
1/2 pound Kalamata olives, pitted and diced
3 tablespoons capers. If really salty, give them a quick rinse
4 -8 anchovy fillets ( depending on your taste )
1 garlic clove, minced fine
Combine all of these ingredients in a Cuisinart or blender (if you don't have either you can chop each item and then add all into a bowl)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoons fresh thyme, diced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
After the olive mixture is chopped, add all of these to the Cuisinart or blender and pulse but make sure to just pulse lightly. You want these to be chunky. Season with salt, taste and then top onto toasted French bread slices.
I like the small baguettes, sliced about 1/4 inch thickness and toasted.
You can rub them with a fresh slice of garlic after you have toasted them (Slice, then put onto a cookie sheet and toast all at once under broiler. Then take a fresh slice of garlic and rub lightly and quickly onto toasted bread, then drizzle a little olive oil, brush with a pastry brush and top with tapenade.
You can also add a nice slice of Pecorino cheese. Sometimes you can just use a veggie peeler and peel off a nice curl of cheese and top onto each toast.
Fennel salad tapanade
Take 4 small fennel bulbs, sliced in rings and put into a bowl. Add olive oil to just cover the fennel and a squeeze of lemon juice from 1 lemon. Marinate the fennel in this for about 15 minutes. I kind of toss around with my fingers to get a good even coat. Then grill the Fennel or roast under a broiler for a nice toasted flavor. Set into a bowl and set aside.
1/2 cup pitted green Spanish olives, chopped coarsely
15 to 20 leaves of fresh Basil, stacked and sliced into thin slices
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon coriander
Pinch of salt
After you have grilled the fennel and taken off grill and put into a bowl, add the remaining ingredients. Toss all with your fingers and season with salt to taste.
Now make the Butter for the toasts.
2 small heads of garlic
1 to 3 anchovy fillets
1 cup soft, unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoons fresh thyme
Mix all and add to butter. You will need to buy or make toasted French bread baguettes, then butter them with this Paprika butter and top with the fennel salad tapanade. When you top the toasts, kind of pinch the fennel salad out of the bowl with your fingers and then drop it onto the toasts for a light plop of the topping. Then you can take some Italian parsley, pick off the leaves and add a nice little topper of parsley to the toasts for cuteness. If needed, you can plate this and then drizzle in a zig zag pattern the entire plate with some fresh olive oil.
Goat cheese and golden raisins
This is a simple one but quite tasty. Take a log of goat cheese, plate it, top it with some nice fresh golden raisins and you can also add CranRaisins too.
Then top the entire log of cheese with a nice, smooth healthy drizzle of honey. You may also add some chopped almonds or pecans too and one nice pick of mint to the side for color.
Add some toasted French baguettes to this and you have a simple hors d’ ouvres to enjoy.
• Tip — If your raisins or Craisins are crystalized or not soft, take and put them into a fine colander ,run hot water over them to decrystalize and then lay them out on a flour sack towel to let them dry.
Shelly Guantone was raised in the Oakland Hills and lives in Lodi with her husband, Nick Guantone. They have three children and three grandchildren. She and her husband own and operate Guantonio’s Mobile Wood Fired Oven. In her free time, she enjoys cooking with her grandbabies, gardening and calligraphy.