Black olive spread from Provence
Tapenade – formerly hard to find in the north of France but now stocked by Parisian supermarkets – is best when homemade. If you can find them, choose oil-cured black olives (à la grecque in French) or the black olives of the Nice region. If not, any black olives will do.
Tapenade is most often served on small rounds of toast as a canapé, but it can also be an elegant dip for raw vegetables, a topping for boiled eggs or an addition to balsamic vinaigrette for extra tanginess in salads.
This recipe was kindly provided by Jean-Louis Lacaze, the chef at Reparate, a small bistro (formerly in my neighborhood) that specializes in the cuisine of Provence.
1/2 pound (250 g.) black olives, pitted
3 anchovy filets
2 tbsp. capers
1 clove garlic
4-6 tbsp. olive oil
pinch of thyme, fresh or dried
freshly ground black pepper
Place the anchovies, capers and garlic in a blender. Add half the olives and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Pulse.
Add the rest of the olives and 2 more tablespoons olive oil, and – be careful! – pulse only briefly, in order to retain some texture.
Remove to a small bowl and taste. If the tapenade is too salty or too thick for easy spreading, stir in more olive oil and taste again.
Add the thyme and grind in some black pepper. Makes about 1 cup of tapenade. Serve with toast or rounds of fresh bread. Serves 4-6.
Refrigerated in a clean jar with a thin layer of oil on top, tapenade will keep for several weeks.
To make green tapenade, use green olives instead of black and proceed as described above. Add 3 tbsp. finely ground blanched almonds, and a little extra oil to taste.