Food Friday : Olive and Cream Cheese Spread
Hold it … before any non-olive-liking readers click away, please read this story first. I served this spread as part of the snack table at a party once. When I noticed that a few of my friends were conspicuously absent from the dance floor I went in search of them and found the group gathered around the food. They explained that they just could not drag themselves away from this particular dish and asked me what was in it. When I told them that there were olives in it, one said, “Oh, I hate olives”, as she helped herself to a dollop of it on just-one-more cracker.
I have seen people lose their appetite for dinner by eating too much of this as an hors d’oeuvre. I also once gifted my sister with a whole crock of her own as part of her birthday present because she likes it that much!
And when I was making this batch yesterday, I asked Nick if he wanted a few tester crackers. He explained that he wasn’t hungry but yes, he would try a couple. After he’d had them I asked him if he wanted any more before I put it away. He said “sure”, and when asked how many, he responded “Oh … about 23 crackers worth!”
This ideal snack to serve at parties and when friends drop over, can be made in under 10 minutes with items you can keep on hand, using your food processor. If you don’t have a food processor you can finely chop the ingredients by hand and mix them into softened cream cheese with a hand blender or whisk.
Another bonus of this recipe is that it also makes a delicious pasta sauce … just heat some gently and toss with cooked noodles.
Consider bringing some to add to the snack table at someone else’s party, but be prepared to be slightly embarrassed by the raving of the guests and potentially annoying the hostess!
Ok, without further ado, or any more bragging about how darn good it is, I give you my recipe for Black Olive and Cream Cheese Spread!
Note that this is made with canned black olives, also known as Ripe Olives, which are not salty like green or Kalamata. If you substitute with salty olives eliminate the salt and maybe some of the capers, to taste.
Black Olive and Cream Cheese Spread
- 1 can (375 ml) pitted black olives, drained. These are also known as Ripe Olives.
- 1 block (250 gram) of cream cheese. If you have time bring it to room temperature so it is softer and will process more easily. (Low fat works fine if you prefer)
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 medium size clove garlic or equivalent in smaller cloves (I used 3 tiny ones). Remove any green core part if there is some.
- 1 teaspoon capers (optional). Note that if you don’t use them you might need to add more salt.
- 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes.
- 1/2 teaspoon each of dried oregano and basil, or 1 tablespoon each of fresh herbs, finely chopped.
- Just under 1/4 teaspoon salt
Put vinegar, garlic and capers into the food processor and roughly chop. Add olives and process until chopped. Add the seasonings and give them a quick whirl. Cut cream cheese into smaller pieces (so it will blend more easily) and add to the mixture. Process just until blended together. You should still see small pieces of the olives.
May be made a day ahead and will keep in the refrigerator for a few days.
Serve with crackers or slices of French bread. Makes about 2 cups, enough to serve around 8 to 10 people as an appetizer, with lefties to toss with hot pasta for your lunch the next day … (maybe)!
Cream cheese spread
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↑↑ This is what I mean about removing any green core part from garlic cloves ↑↑