"Pestos, Tapenades & Spreads," Stacey Printz

Pros: Wow. Umm, and did I say, wow?
Cons: None
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:

Crostini with Three Toppings

Crostini with Three Toppings

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.

Posted in Cooking, Reviews Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,
14 comments on “"Pestos, Tapenades & Spreads," Stacey Printz
  1. Chuck says:

    I hunger for this book.

    Or, I hunger for what people made from this book.

    Or, both.


    — c.

  2. James says:

    I shouldn’t have read this post. It’s the middle of the night and now I’m hungry but know I should go to bed and not get stuck into making some pesto and toasting some bread.

  3. hannah says:

    The deep red spread and the avocado one look good, but the grey brown one leaves something to be desired (from the picture). I have never read a book by Stacey Printz before…perhaps this will be the first!

  4. Tom says:

    What was the green one? Was that the no-nut recipe? It can’t be the portobello right? Hannah is right, the brown one takes a little getting used to.

    How long did it take you to make one of those? And when you say it’s incredibly easy, would you say it’s easy enough for a guy like me?

    • heather says:

      Yes, the green one is the no-nut recipe. The brown one, of course, is the portobello. These are quick and really really easy—for most of them you just blend a handful of ingredients together.

  5. Andrea Borja says:

    This makes me want to start learning how to cook.

    Yes, I’m that girl who even manages to burn water. Yo make it sound so easy that I’m itching to try it myself. And they all look scrumptious – except the spinach one. Sorry, the Spinach and I don’t see eye to eye.

    Looking at the posted image above makes me want to try cooking, like now since I’m hungry. Mind you I never cook. My mom made a bill that prohibits me from entering the kitchen and try cooking something. But I’ll tell her all about this – the pestos and tapenades. Thanks for the good find!


  6. Thea says:

    The spreads looks yummy,when it comes to spreads i can’t make a magic with it,i don’t know how.Well i think i should try these to try something new.As far as I’m concern i don’t have a allergy so i think i cant eat the recipe you share with us.Thanks for a nice post.Photos looks very amazing.

  7. George says:

    I am a foodie and I also like to cook. I like to read recipe books and also love to watch cooking shows. I read this book. What I like about this book is that Stacey includes multiple serving suggestions with each recipe. Presto goes wonderfully with pasta and many spreads work well on chicken or fish, but there are plenty of other tips too.

  8. Sandra says:

    Wow! This looks delicious! The green one looks yummy. I’m going to try this out and let you know how it goes.

  9. Dave says:

    My daughter and I will try this instead of bruschetta. Looks great!

  10. They all look delicious, but I’m partial to the rosemary pesto! I used to eat Crostini’s all the time when I lived in the northeast—not so much now being that I live in the Southwest, but I miss them. I’m curious to know what kind of bread you used; French or Italian? I’m not a big fan of beets, but I will definitely take your word for it—it looks really good. đŸ™‚

  11. I love rosemary pesto! Delicious!

  12. Rita Brooks says:

    great review – and your pics are making me hungry!

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