This is brilliant and oh so easy.
Credit: Getty / Vitalina Rybakova

Happens all the time. You get wooed by the siren song of the olive bar, load up on all manner of briny treats for your next party, and at the end of the night are faced with three bowls of sad olives, turned matte with dried brine and looking destined for the bin. Which at a cool $10 per pound is a double waste. But never fear, while you might not want to give them a second outing on your charcuterie platter, all is not lost. Those orbs might be down, but they are not beat, and a fast whizz in your food processor can bring them back to life.

In other words, make tapenade.

Why I turn leftover olives into tapenade

Tapenade is a punchy olive spread popular all over the Mediterranean. And it couldn't be simpler to make. A bright combination of olives, olive oil, lemon, capers, and sometimes anchovies, it is a super versatile condiment to have on hand.

And tapenade has a million uses in everyday cooking. You can use it as a dip, a spread on sandwiches, an ingredient in vinaigrettes, or a coating on proteins. Smear it on pizza dough and top with thinly sliced potatoes and onions for an unusual and delicious pie, or dollop on your caprese salad instead of pesto, or give a swirl on your hummus.

Once you start making tapenade, you'll find all sorts of delicious uses for it! Best part, if you keep covered in a layer of oil in the fridge to prevent air getting to it, a jar can last literally months. You can use any type of olive: Go all green, all black, or a combo. Make it super smooth or chunky. Add fresh herbs or spices. This is such a handy ingredient; you might find yourself going to get olives just to make it! 

How to make tapenade

This could not be easier! 

1. Remove the pits from all the olives.  

2. Measure your leftover olives. For every cup you want 1 teaspoon lemon zest, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, ½ tablespoon capers, ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.

3. Put everything in the food processor, pulse to the consistency you like, and taste for seasoning. If you like it more tart, add more lemon juice. Spicier? Add more pepper flakes. Creamier, try more oil or a handful of Marcona almonds. If you want a bit of extra umami, toss in a couple anchovy filets. I don't add fresh herbs until I want to serve, since they reduce the shelf-life. Chopped parsley and chives are great in this, as is fresh thyme or rosemary.

4. To store, put the tapenade in a jar or other container with an airtight lid, and pour enough olive oil on top to fully cover the tapenade by about 1/8-1/4 inch. This will solidify in the fridge and create a protective layer on top of the spread. To serve, let come to room temperature for about 30 minutes, and just stir the olive oil into the blend.