I recently got a new food processor and decided to experiment with it making some delicious Mediterranean dips with the Italian olives, lemon, fresh parsley, nuts and garlic I had on hand. I used the multi-purpose blade to chop the herbs and olives, and then slowly streamed the liquids into the dry spices and herb ingredients to whip up some delicious goodness.

These dips are delicious and versatile. You can serve them with some cut up fresh veggies, crackers, pita bread, crostini or, really, whatever comes to mind. The pesto is also delicious as a pasta sauce or as a topping for grilled or baked fish or chicken, or as a garnish on minestrone or vegetable soups. You can substitute basil for the parsley and pine nuts for the mixed toasted nuts in the recipe below for a traditional Basil Pesto, or try using Artichokes and Walnuts, Peppers and Cashews…get creative! And if you haven’t tried making your own tapenade and pestos at home, you’ll love how easy they are to make at home in the processor…and you’ll never buy store-bought stuff again!

Olive Tapenade

Mixed Olive Tapenade
Makes about 2 cups

1/2 cup Kalamata olives
2/3 cup oil-cured black Italian olives, pitted
2 teaspoons capers, drained
3 scallions, trimmed and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/3 cup flat-leaf Italian parsley leaves
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (more or less to taste)

Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor with a metal fitting blade and puree into a medium-fine paste. Season with black pepper and puree.

Scoop out the olive tapenade into a serving bowl and garnish with additional chopped parsley for dipping. Can also spread the olive dip on Italian bread toasts (1/2 inch slices) to make Crostini.

Parsley Pesto

Parsley & Pistachio-Walnut-Cashew Pesto
Makes about 2 cups 

2 cups flat-leaf Italian parsley (leaves only)
1 cup pistachios, walnuts and cashews, chopped and toasted
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
2 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus 2 tsp grated lemon zest

Place parsley, toasted nuts, cheese, garlic and salt in the food processor bowl with a metal blade fitting, and pulse into a medium-fine texture.

Separately, in a small mixing bowl, add olive oil, lemon juice and zest and combine.

Slowly add the oil and lemon to the parsley and nut mixture in the food processor, pulsing every few seconds to combine ingredients.

Serve over pasta, as a dip with crackers or breadsticks, or as a garnish to vegetable or cream-based soups.

—Kristen Hess is the author of food blog theartfulgourmet.com.