Oh what a treat it was to receive our oh so divine hamper from Storm! As if by magic, at the end of a long day at work, it seemed as though Christmas really had come early! As we opened the treasure chest, it was as though the sun was beaming out of this wonderful thing and all we could hear was an angelic ‘ahhhhhhh!!’ so many lovely ingredients..

Now, the challenge was a winning tapenade and this, after some thought, was a tricky one. Olives have a distinct flavour. They are strong and delicious but can be overpowering at times, and so when faced with this glorious array of ingredients, we pondered how best to go about this..

The Manchego and the salami were there as accompaniments to the tapenade, but onto the dates and the chestnuts…where exactly did they fit in? A date tapenade? Did this exist? I Googled it (google, my favourite tool…there is always an answer) And yes, it did. However, we remained dubious. Dates are probably one of the finest things, so delicious and an absolute luxury. But when paired with olives, we weren’t so sure. We wondered where to go with this..Herby or spicy? Black olives or green? But we attempted it and how it turned out, we shall later divulge..

And then there were the chestnuts. They are an unusual texture, and these were wonderfully sweet. The first thing one normally would think of with chestnuts is Christmas and roaring log fires and the warm smell of ferns and Christmas trees. So the idea that they would go with olives, in an olive infused, Spanish themed dish, was peculiar at first. But we tried it and in fact, were pleasantly surprised.

And then, or course, the classic tapenade. We went green (because peeps, we are all about a greener living!)..and this was yummy…But perhaps not so classic? We created a slightly spicy tapenade here and it was particularly delicious with the salami and Manchego.

The end reusult was this. We were happy with the classic and the chestnut tapenades, but we didn’t manage to nail the dates. It would be interesting to get an insight how exactly to go about this, but we shall lay that one to rest for now…

So, for the cooking..


Green Olives


One red chilli

Olive oil

Salt and pepper


Lemon juice and rind


Chop the lemongrass and chilli finely, leaving in some of the seeds for extra bite. Put the pitted olives in the blender with a couple of glugs of olive oil and add all the other ingredients and roughly blend, so the tapenade comes to a rustic and not too smooth paste. Season to taste with salt and pepper (and perhaps some more lemon juice and chilli if you want it more fiery!)


Chestnust Tapendae

I packet of Merchant Gourmet chestnuts

Black olives

Rosemary and thyme

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar


Put the olives and a good glug of oil in the blender and add about 2 to 3 stalks each of rosemary and thyme, removed from stalks. The taste is sweet, despite the strong olive flavour so add a spalsh or two of Balsamic vinegar to give it a bit more balance. Salt and pepper can then be added to taste.