‘Tis the season for holiday parties, family get-togethers, and all sorts of entertaining, whether for work or for pleasure. I’ve often been asked what to serve that’s organic and tastes good, and most of all, is a crowd pleaser. So over the next few weeks, I’m going to share my party favorites — the stuff that gets eaten to the bottom of the bowl, plate, or dish. I actually don’t entertain as much as I’d like to, so let this be a reminder to me, too, that entertaining doesn’t have to be hard or overwrought, and the best get-togethers are informal and fun.

Olive Tapenade

Sure, you can buy the stuff in a jar already made, but I can tell you now it’s not going to taste as good as with this method. I’m blatantly stealing it from a woman I know (a brilliant painter named Sandy Corpora — yes, married to Pat of the tomato-staking intervention).  But the fact that she made it for me once over 10 years ago and I’ve made it ever since with my own variations means, I hope, that the statute of limitations on stealing a good recipe is up.

Easy, Homemade Olive Tapenade


  • 1 jar niçoise olives (This is the secret ingredient. No substitutions!)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Rosemary
  • Lemon or orange zest (optional)
  1. This is the hardest part, but it can be relaxing, too: Take the pits out of the olives. I just do it by hand or with a small knife. Don’t worry about the size of the pieces; this is a lumpy tapenade. Put the olive bits in a bowl.
  2. Chop the clove of garlic into tiny pieces and add it to the bowl.
  3. Same with a sprig of rosemary, or you can just add the sprig for decoration.
  4. I like to add a tiny bit of organic lemon or orange skin zest for a tiny bit of citrus flavor.
  5. Pour good olive oil over the mixture and stir.
  6. Put it into a serving bowl.
  7. Take a loaf of crusty organic bread, preferably a baguette of some sort. Slice into thin, bite-size pieces.
  8. Let people spoon the tapenade onto the bread themselves.

It will probably all be gone by the time the party is over, but if it isn’t, it’s great left over for a few days.

This article was reprinted with permission. For more from Maria Rodale, go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com.