An authentic Provencal tapenade is easy to make.By Martha Rose Shulman
Nowadays, it seems that any food that can be crushed or pureed is entitled to be called a tapenade, but real tapenade is the authentic signature dish of Provence. It should be made (if possible) with the rich, fleshy Nyons olives that grow in the northern part of the region.
Nyons olives are hard to find in the United States, but look for a dark black olive with a moist, not too salty flesh. Amphissa olives from Greece are the closest I've found in texture, though they are a light color, and don't make as pretty a tapenade as the dark black olives. I find kalamatas a little too metallic tasting. If you can find cured olives from France or North Africa, those would be my recommendation.
Makes about 1½ cups
½ pound (about 1⅓ to 1½ cups, depending on the size) imported black olives
2 large garlic cloves, cut in half, green shoots removed
4 anchovy fillets (preferably salt-packed), soaked for 15 minutes in cold water and rinsed
1½ tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, or ½ teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, or ½ teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Lots of freshly ground black pepper
Fresh chopped rosemary or thyme for garnish
1. Pit the olives. I find the easiest way to do this is to lay a few at a time on my work surface and crush them with the flat side of a knife. Then pull out the pit. You can also use a cherry pitter, but I think this method is more efficient. Be sure to throw away the pits, and not to put them in with the olives.
2. Turn on a food processor fitted with the steel blade and drop in the garlic. When it is chopped and adhering to the sides of the bowl, turn off the processor and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the olives, anchovies, capers, thyme, rosemary and mustard, and puree until fairly smooth. Add the lemon juice, olive oil and pepper, and process until you have a smooth paste. Scrape into an attractive serving bowl (or pack for a picnic), garnish with herbs, and serve.
Green Olive Tapenade
Substitute imported green olives for the black olives.
Green Olive and Almond Tapenade
One of my favorites. Substitute 1 cup green olives and ¼ cup blanched almonds for the black olives. Grind the almonds along with the olives.
Tapenade-Stuffed Eggs and Vegetables
Serves 6 to 8
You can blend tapenade with hard-boiled egg yolks to make a marvelous filling not just for eggs, but for vegetables as well, such as blanched zucchini, cherry tomatoes and wide slices of red pepper. Pack the hard-cooked egg yolks and vegetables separately for a picnic and fill them when you get there.
6 large eggs, hard-boiled
1 recipe tapenade
6 small tomatoes or 24 cherry tomatoes
3 small zucchini, cut in half lengthwise, then cut into 3-inch lengths
2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut in wide 2-inch-long strips
1. Peel the hard-boiled eggs, cut them in half lengthwise, and carefully remove the yolks. Combine the yolks and the tapenade in a food processor fitted with the steel blade, or in a mortar and pestle, and blend together until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning.
2. If using small tomatoes, cut them in half across the equator, scoop out the seeds, salt lightly and reverse on a rack over the sink or over a baking sheet to drain for 15 minutes. If using cherry tomatoes, carefully scoop out some of the pulp.
3. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil and drop in the zucchini. Par-boil for 3 minutes, and transfer to a bowl of ice-cold water. Carefully scoop out the seeds, using a spoon to create a channel down the middle of each piece.
4. Using a spoon, fill or top the eggs and vegetables with tapenade. Arrange on a platter or on individual plates. Garnish with lemon wedges, rosemary sprigs and radishes.
Martha Rose Shulman is the award-winning author of more than 25 cookbooks, including "Mediterranean Harvest: Vegetarian Recipes From the World's Healthiest Cuisine," "Mediterranean Light," "Provencal Light" and "Entertaining Light."
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