Posted by: Jamie Stamm | April 24, 2008

Dining In: Artichoke tapenade

For the past 2 1/2 years, my husband, Jerry, and I have been writing a weekly food column called “Dining In.” Our goal with the column is to show people like ourselves – men and women with full-time jobs, long commutes and energetic children – that, with a little effort, you can make restaurant-quality food in your own kitchen. We love working on this column together, with Jerry doing most of the preparation and Jamie doing most of the writing – and both of us researching recipes and taste-testing the finished products.

Because my mom doesn’t get to read “Dining In” in the newspaper (she lives in another city), but I know she reads my blog (Hi, Mom!), I’ve decided to start posting our column here each Wednesday (which also is the day the column appears in The Sanford Herald). Please enjoy.

Because we sometimes work late hours, and both have fairly long commutes home, it’s not unusual for it to be after 7 p.m. before we get started on dinner. And since feeding our kids is priority No. 1, our meal might not get started until 30 minutes or so later. Which means if we ate lunch around noon, our tummies are already rumbling.

So we’ve become big fans of tapenades, which make easy, light appetizers as we work to get dinner on the table.

A tapenade is simply a spread for bread – typically made with olives as the main ingredient, but here we’ve chosen to use artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes instead. This tapenade is wonderfully tangy, with its combination of artichokes and balsamic vinegar, and the sun-dried tomatoes add just a touch of sweetness.

The flavors here are perfect piled atop a thin slice of toasted sourdough bread. We buy ours already sliced from the bakery of our favorite grocery store, but if yours comes in a whole loaf, slice it to approximately ¼- to ½-inch thick.

Artichoke tapenade

3 cloves garlic

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 13.75-ounce can artichoke hearts

2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

½ cup olive oil

1 loaf sourdough bread, cut into thin slices and toasted

Add the garlic, salt and pepper to the bowl of a small food processor and pulse until the garlic is well minced. Add the artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, oregano, thyme and balsamic vinegar and process until the ingredients are well-incorporated. Drizzle in the olive oil and continue processing until the tapenade reaches your desired consistency.

Serve atop slices of toasted sourdough bread.

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