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An Italian-Style Picnic
An Italian-Style Picnic
April 17, 2013 • Posted by Rebecca Marber

If there’s one thing the Italians do well, it’s lounging and eating. Now that Spring is here, it’s time to follow suit. So grab your blankets, wine bottles, and baguettes and start whipping up this perfect picnic recipe: Tomato Vodka Mascarpone Tapenade.

I’ve always been a sucker for Penne a la Vodka--and this spread is the same type of satisfying. The mascarpone cheese in this recipe creates a thicker version of the classic Italian sauce. And what do we get in result? A spin-off of an Olive Tapenade that tastes unbelievable on some bread or crackers.

Feel free to add more mascarpone for a richer, creamier base, or even throw some red pepper flakes or pancetta into the mix. With any of these ingredients plus the ones listed below, you’ll feel closer to Italy with each bite.

Tomato Vodka Mascarpone Tapenade


1 can whole tomatoes
1/3 cup vodka
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 small onion, diced
1 tbsp tomato paste
4 medium garlic cloves
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lemon
1/4 cup capers, drained
salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a medium sauce pan, heat vodka for several minutes until slightly reduced and alcohol smell can no longer be detected. Meanwhile, place canned tomatoes into food processor and puree until smooth. Once vodka has been reduced, add tomato puree to saucepan and cook on medium heat for an additional 10 minutes.
  2. Remove mixture from heat and let cool. (You can expedite this process by placing it in the freezer for several minutes- just as long as it isn’t extremely hot).
  3. Once cooled, transfer tomato vodka puree back into food processor. Add the olive oil, onion, tomato paste, garlic, capers, lemon, salt and pepper, and mascarpone cheese to blender. Blend to desired texture- either slightly chunky or fairly smooth. Let tapenade chill in refrigerator for 2 hours until it is ready to be served!
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