The Wonderful World of Crostini


I first discovered tapenade, a spread made from olives and capers, when my uncle hosted an evening based on The Big Night more than a decade ago.  It was only fitting, then, that when a party was thrown to celebrate that same uncle’s 60th birthday, that Cari and I should provide tapenade and some other delicious spreads for the occasion.

All three of the spreads we made turned out well and were served as part of a crostini bar which guests could help themselves to.

I’ll start by sharing the most complicated of the bunch.  Emeril Lagasse’s recipe for Olive Tapenade.  We made the mistake of buying black olives with their pits, which only further added to the complications.  We also didn’t use anywhere close to the amount of capers called for, but it still turned out well.


Olive Tapenade (courtesy of Food Network)

Yields approximately 1 1/2 cups


3/4 lbs pitted olives (we used black and kalamata)
3 to 4 ounces capers, drained and rinsed (we used closer to 2 ounces)
2 anchovy fillets, drained, rinsed and patted dry
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 bay leaf, finely chopped
5 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves finely chopped
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sherry
1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil


1. Combine all ingredients in food processor and pulse/process until coarsely puréed.  Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.

Tuscan White Bean Purée (courtesy of

Yields 2 cups


2 tbsp olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups canned white beans, drained
6 sage leaves
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice


1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and add shallots and garlic.  Cook until soft.

2. Add white beans and coat with cooked garlic and shallot mixture.

3. Transfer mixture to food processor and combine with sage leaves, lemon juice, salt and olive oil.  Purée until sooth.

Artichoke & Mascarpone Spread (courtesy of Ace Bakery)
makes enough for 10 to 12 crostini


6 oz jar of marinated artichokes, rinsed and drained
4 to 5 tbsp mascarpone
1/2 medium garlic clove, grated
1 tbsp or more freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp minced fresh chives
1 to 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil


1. Roughly purée the artichokes, mascarpone and garlic in a food processor.

2. Mix in 1 tbsp lemon juice.  Taste and add more as needed.

3. Transfer to bowl and fold in the chives.


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