Swap Heavy Sauce With Tapenade For Luxurious Weeknight Pasta

Easy weeknight dinners don't have to be boring in order to keep it simple. After a long day, it seems that pasta is always there, waiting and willing to offer a quick and hearty solution to dinner when we don't have time to spend in the kitchen. But sometimes jarred pasta sauce has run its course and we need something to freshen things up without creating more work. Enter tapenade.

This savory olive spread is typically used on toast or crostini, or often as a dip to accompany snacks or appetizers. But it's more versatile than you might think. If the thought of a thick, store-bought Alfredo is weighing you down, reach for a heaping spoon full of tapenade instead and use it to create a light and flavorful pasta sauce that's as easy as anything else. Incorporating tapenade into your pasta is simple. Add a spoonful or two, depending on how much pasta you've cooked, and mix it in. A splash of olive oil or a pat of butter can help to disperse the tapenade into the pasta better and make it saucier. Don't forget that most olive tapenades are loaded with flavor, so taste as you go before going overboard.

Pairings for a perfect tapenade pasta sauce

First, consider the type of tapenade you want to use. They can be made with a variety of different olives and that will impact the overall flavor of the dish. Green olives lend themselves to brighter, herby flavors while kalamata and black olives are often deeper and richer. Some tapenade include peppers and other ingredients that affect the spice and overall flavor, so consider that when spooning it in.

If you want a super-simple pasta dish, add the tapenade and toss it with some lemon, olive oil, and a garnish of fresh herbs. The lemon will compliment the flavors of the olives and the olive oil will help to make the pasta a little saucier overall.

If you want to make it heartier, try pairing lighter vegetables. Sauté chopped asparagus or add some blistered cherry tomatoes for more of a saucy bite. If you want to add some richness to the pasta, shave some fresh parmesan or asiago cheese over the top. Compliment the flavors of the tapenade by finishing with a garnish of fresh-chopped tender herbs, like parsley, if you've got some in the fridge waiting to be used.