Saturday, July 1, 2017

Olive Tapenade

This spread, often used as an hors d'œuvre and spread on bread or crackers, is a provincial recipe of the region surrounding Europe's Mediterranean sea. This area, which grows many olives, make use of them in many ways, but perhaps the most popular is tapenade. The classic tapenade includes various types of olives, capers, olive oil, garlic and sometimes anchovies.

Julian's Olive Tapenade
The word tapenade comes from the French, but it's equally popular in Spain and Italy. Sometimes Americans refer to this as muffuletta, because they've had it on Sicilian bread called muffuletta which became popular with Italian immigrants in New Orleans, Louisiana who spread the bread with tapenade. But the true name is olive tapenade not muffuletta.

I purchase pitted olives of several varieties and I do all of my chopping in the food processor, which makes it quick and easy. My sister does the chopping by hand, which insures the ingredients are not processed into a paste. We both prefer a small, fine chop to a puree but in Europe you find it both ways. If using the food processor like I do, make sure to just do one ingredient at a time and quickly 'pulse' so as not to puree the olives.

My Sister Hand Chopping Olives
Make a large batch if you are expecting guests to drop in during the week. It's popular and they can eat a good bit, piling each cracker or small bread piece with a teaspoon or more of tapenade. I find a large bowl like the above will hold in my refrigerator for about a week.

I have no specific recipe to provide you but my most common ingredient list looks like the below. Once all of the solids are chopped I just mix together some olive oil and vinegar and toss with the mixture. Add salt if necessary after tasting.

Black Olives
Green Olives with/without pimentos
Kalamata Olives
Castelvetrano Sicilian Green Olives
Garlic (2-3 cloves only)
Red pepper (small or half)
Capers (optional)

Olive Oil
Red Wine Vinegar

Chop all of the ingredients one by one into a very fine small chop (but not puree). Stir gently together. Mix together 3 parts olive oil to one part wine vinegar and toss. Only a light dressing is required. Add more dressing and salt if necessary after tasting. Refrigerate and let flavors combine for several hours before serving on crackers or small pieces of bread. Makes an excellent spread on toasted panini sandwiches.

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