Olives Galore

BasketAbout a week ago I packed up the car with coolers and picnic baskets and headed south out of Oregon on a road trip to Austin, Texas.

Half the fun of traveling for me is the planning and preparation of a few tasty treats to enjoy along the way.

As it turned out, I had enough for a round trip with chicken tandoori, couscous salad with marinated vegetables, hummus, fresh vegies for dipping, and even a cheese-covered frittata filled with potatoes and sautéed vegetables.

There were the planned stops along the way that further expanded my food larder.  The Olive Pit in Corning, California provided an energizing break with some serious olive tasting.  For over 50 years this roadside attraction has been an institution for travelers, and it is still run by the Craig family.  Along with the tasting room, there is a restaurant for those with more serious appetites.

Olive Pit Samples
Olive Pit Samples

On this stop I came away with a few real jewels.  I couldn’t resist their Mediterranean style olives, big fat dark green olives soaked in a mild olive oil, red wine vinegar and herb marinade; or the small crisp Picholine olives, elegant and herbal; and of course the must-have bottle of fruity California Olive Ranch’s award winning Arbequina extra virgin olive oil.

Here’s my favorite concoction for tapenade which I tend to modify based on olives on hand, and not just meaty Kalamatas.  This is good spread on nearly anything, or simply tossed with pasta.

tapenade imageTapenade


  •  ½  pound olives, any combination of black and green, pitted
  •  3    cloves garlic, crushed
  •  2    tablespoons capers
  •  ½  teaspoon thyme
  •  ½  teaspoon rosemary
  •  1     teaspoon lemon juice
  •  1     teaspoon Dijon mustard
  •  1     teaspoon anchovy paste, optional
  •  2    tablespoons olive oil
  •         ground pepper, plenty
  •  1     tablespoon sherry, more if needed
  1. Process all ingredients through herbs into a rough puree.  Add remaining items and process, but retain some texture.
  2. Adjust seasoning and chill well.

Spread on crostini or raw vegetables.  It will hold for weeks with a film of olive oil over surface.  Makes about 2 cups.

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