Elevate your sandwich with tapenade

The olive tapenade adds a special something that raises a sandwich to the next level. Photo: Peter Simpson

By Tim O’Connor

I love sandwiches, everything from meatball subs to peanut butter and jelly, but my true love is the deli sandwich.

It’s an experience that starts at the deli counter where you pick and choose whichever meats you want, whether it’s plain bologna or turkey with roast beef or capicola with mortadella or all of the above. My perfect lunch on a hot summer day is to drop a deli sandwich on the grill and get a bit of crisp in the bread and a bit of heat in the meat. That’s the cat’s meow in my world.

I want to share a little hack that has elevated my sandwiches: tapenade.

I made my first tapenade after I had guests over, using scattered leftovers from a charcuterie board – three olives, a couple of roasted red peppers that were hanging around the fridge and wondering where they were going to go, some roasted garlic and that last, lonely survivor in the bottom of the artichoke jar.

Chop it all up as finely as you can with a knife or put it in a blender with a little olive oil, a little lemon juice and maybe a little vinegar. It makes this beautiful friend for a sandwich, adding a bit of moisture and oil. Sometimes the best part of a sandwich is when you dip the last bit in the oily puddle of flavour on your plate. It soaks in and tenderizes the bread and makes your whole sandwich more dynamic.

My recipe is a basic tapenade, but feel free to include whatever is in the back of your fridge. It’s also great on a grilled chicken or tofu sandwich or any sandwich you want to liven up. You could even make a nut-berry tapenade for your PBJ.

Get creative. Start small, use my recipe and try adding things to see how they taste. Sub tomatoes for red peppers or marinated eggplant for pickles. If you’re vegetarian, make a mushroom tapenade and you’ll have a sandwich you’ll want to phone your mom about. There’s no wrong recipe, it’s just a matter of taste.

Tim O’Connor was born and raised in the Glebe and is head chef at Flora Hall Brewing.

Tim’s Tapenade

  • 1 1/2 cups olives, pitted, brine cured
  • (I mix green and kalamata but if flying solo use kalamata)
  • 3 tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, roasted if desired
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice and zest (about 1 large lemon)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 red pepper, roasted, seeded

Chop solid ingredients or pulse in food processor. Add olive oil and lemon juice, season to taste. Feel free to add herbs or chilli flakes to your taste.

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