Citizens, few things in life are as welcome by a guest as this delicious French appetizer with its zingy flavors and it is equally beloved by hosts for its ease of preparation.
Tapenade is a Provençal dish consisting of puréed or finely chopped olives, capers, anchovies and olive oil. Its name comes from the Provençal word for capers, tapenas and it is a popular food in the south of France, where it is generally eaten as an hors d’œuvre spread on bread, but sometimes it is used to stuff poultry for a main course.
Olive-based tapenades with anchovies and/or vinegar are ubiquitous in Italian cuisine and are documented in ancient Roman cookbooks dating back thousands of years before the appearance of the Occitan word tapenade. One of the earliest known tapenade recipe, Olivarum conditurae, appears in Columella’s De re Rustica, written in the first century AD. Cato the Elder (234–149 B.C.E.) includes a recipe for Epityrum, an olive spread very like a tapenade, in chapter 119 of his “On Agriculture.”
Tapenade is sometimes confused with New Orleans olive salad, a critical component in the New Orleans sandwich the muffaletta. New Orleans olive salad is more properly called a giardiniera; it does not contain capers and does contain cauliflower, carrots and celery.
The recipe’s base ingredient is olive. The olives (most commonly black olive though green is also enjoyed) and capers are finely chopped, crushed or blended. Olive oil is then added until the mixture becomes a paste. Tapenade is often flavored differently in varying regions with other ingredients such as garlic, herbs, anchovies, lemon juice or brandy.
It can be used as part of an appetizer served as a topping on crackers, crusty bread or crudités. It can also be used as a condiment. Tapenade can also used in preparing fish dishes and is generally just an awesome snacking item, IMHO.
My version of the recipe calls for 2 different kinds of green olives, the buttery castelvetrano and the sharp picholine and a whisper of optional V.S.O.P. cognac – I am very confident you will find favor with this recipe, my Citizens! 🙂
Battle on – The Generalissimo
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