Pros: Wow. Umm, and did I say, wow?
Rating: 5 out of 5
Review book (published 2009) courtesy of Chronicle Books.
I’ve always enjoyed pestos & tapenades, but I never went out of my way to have them. I never would have placed them among my favorite foods, that’s for certain. Now, after using Stacey Printz’s Pestos, Tapenades, and Spreads: 40 Simple Recipes for Delicious Toppings, Sauces & Dips, I’ll be making and eating them far more often!
Pestos, tapenades, and spreads are more versatile than you might imagine at first. Stacey includes multiple serving suggestions with each recipe so you’ll get that point. Of course pretty much all of them are going to be good spread on toasted bread; pesto goes wonderfully with pasta; and many spreads work well on chicken or fish, but there are plenty of other tips too. One recipe suggests you add a spoonful to mashed potatoes. Another recommends swirling some into soup. Because of all these suggestions, what seems like a small book of simple recipes instead turns out to be an incredibly versatile treasury of flavors!
What’s more, spreads tend to be quick, easy, inexpensive, and full of healthful ingredients such as vegetables and olive oil. Many of them are also very attractive and easy to serve, making them ideal party or dinner party food. But don’t take my word for it: I’ve got proof.
We chose three recipes more-or-less at random from the book. I picked out a “no-nut pesto” because I had to know whether or not that would actually work, since it sounded dubious at best (apparently the author was asked to develop a no-nut recipe for an allergic relative). Next came a portobello mushroom & thyme tapenade, and a beet tapenade.
All of these were incredibly easy. The beets take a little time to boil or steam, but it isn’t as though that takes effort. There’s a little chopping to be done, but a food processor can do most of the work. The recipes don’t cost very much to make, either—especially since a little goes a long way, given their flavorful nature.
The no-nut pesto was deliriously delicious, and left me thinking, who needs nuts, anyway? I’d happily eat this with or without allergies! The mushroom tapenade is sooo good, even though I’m not usually that fond of olives, which play a significant part in this recipe. The beet tapenade, however, proved to be the surprise winner. Spread some goat cheese on toast and top with the tapenade, and you have one of the best quick lunches ever! Not to mention, make a few quick spreads and you have gorgeous party food that will make it look like you slaved over a stove all day:
So indulge yourself with sage-walnut, spinach, or rosemary pesto. Tempt your neighbors with feta-mint, shrimp-olive, or dried cherry tapenade. Or bring a party alive with curried hummus, avocado-chevre, or smoked salmon spread. It’s easy!
Oh, yeah. The recipes were so amazing that I almost forgot to mention: the book has gorgeous photographs; the layout is clean, clear, and easy-to-read; and so far we’ve found no errors in the text.