The Best Tapenade

by Meg Cotner on June 27, 2011

spicy tapenade

Spicy tapenade

Recently, we hosted an event thanking friends who had given to a great project, the Astoria Park Shore Fest. It was a really fun time, and part of the fun was preparing the food – I love making food for parties. I used to spend at least a few days preparing the food for my grad school recital receptions, and the food would be gone in about 15 minutes. It was very satistfying.

One thing I learned to make in those years was tapenade. Tapenade is an olive spread – here’s more of a description from Wikipedia:

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 (Occitan pronunciation: [ta?pen?]). It is a popular food in the south of France, where it is generally eaten as an hors d’œuvre, spread on bread. Sometimes it is also used to stuff fillets for a main course.

The recipe I use doesn’t have anchovies, but I can see how they would be a wonderful addition to this spread. This recipe I use is from a terrific vegetarian cookbook by Deborah Madison’s called Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Deborah Madison cooked at Chez Panisse and was the founding chef at Greens restaurant, two of my favorite Bay Area restaurants.

This tapenade is spicy and lemony and uses an unusual ingredient – green peppercorns. These are tiny little things that are preserved in a salt water brine, and they add a wonderful salty peppery flavor to the tapenade. I’ve never seen them in another recipe; I love their flavor.

I enjoy this savory spread immensely. It’s especially good with chevre on bread or crackers.

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