When my mom made pie pastry, she always used the leftover to make what she called cinnamon swirls. These were made by simply rolling out the leftover dough into a free-form sorta rectangle and sprinkling it with cinnamon sugar. The dough was rolled up, jelly roll-fashion, into a log which she then cut, crosswise, into slices about a quarter inch or so thick. They were placed on a cookie sheet and baked for about 15 minutes in a 375ºF oven, turning out sweet little swirled cookies that were perfect with tea. They were a childhood favorite and something I introduced to my boys when I made pastry.
Not long ago when I was making pastry (see the chicken pie post for pastry recipe) and had some leftover, I thought why not make a savory hors d’oeuvre rather than the cinnamon-scented cookie that I had always loved. So, I took mom’s technique and translated it to a filling of olive paste, then pesto, then grated parmesan cheese and smoked paprika. Like mom did, I roll out the dough, but then I coat it lightly with olive paste (or now whatever filling I happen to have on hand). The little savory swirls have become so successful that I have started making pastry just for them.
Here is my recipe for olive paste – aka tapenade – but don’t hesitate to purchase jarred olive paste from your favorite specialty food store – most that I’ve tried are pretty good. This makes quite a bit but it will keep for about a month, covered and refrigerated. In addition to being used as a filling for olive swirls, olive paste can be used as a condiment for meat, poultry, or fish; as a dip for crudités; as a topping for croutons, baguette slices, or sliced cooked potatoes.
Olive Paste or Tapenade
¾ cup olive oil
¼ cup finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 cup finely chopped yellow bell pepper
1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
2 cups chopped black olives, such as kalamata, niçoise, Gaeta, or other
deeply-flavored black olives
1½ cups finely chopped toasted walnuts
⅓ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoon finely chopped basil
½ cup red wine vinegar
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes or just until beginning to color. Stir in all of the bell peppers and sauté for 10 minutes or just until the peppers are softened. Stir in the olive the olives, walnuts, parsley, and basil. When well-combined, stir in the vinegar. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat and scrape into a nonreactive container. If storing for a long period of time, cover the top with a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil.