Last year when Karine and I escaped to Provence in the south of France we fell back in love with the region – it’s endless rows of ancient olive trees, spectacular lavender fields, iconic vineyards and delightful coastline. It really is enchanting and its hard to describe the aroma of the area – it’s an explosion for the senses.
Those sun-drenched days remind me of our recent English heatwave. Day after day of glorious sunshine left us craving for something with a punch of flavour. The saltiness of Tapenade makes it the perfect companion to languid days and this dish is something that your taste buds will crave.
Traditionally made from the small black olives, widespread across France, there are tasty new recipes on the block including green Tapenade (from green olives) and delicious versions made with dried tomatoes and herbs.
We became addicted to the varieties and textures of French Tapenade; with market stalls selling batches of colourful bowls it became our go-to evening starter.
“Enjoy preparing this dish well in advance – it’s so simple and perfect for carefree summer entertaining”
It’s probably hard to imagine us enjoying the simplicity of an earthy paté with crusty French bread and sand between our toes; but I can assure you when we take a break from Maison Bleue we naturally seek the simple things in life – good food, good friends, good wine and most important of all relaxation!
Perfect with a chilled glass or two as a dip, light supper, or as an addition to your picnic Tapenade is a punchy French gourmet pate with a salty flavour. This recipe is simple to make and can be prepared in advance; making it perfect for carefree entertaining.
The secret for a good Tapenade is the ingredients. Black olives from Provence are quite strong and very different to the bottled or canned varieties found in the UK. If you’re lucky enough to have a good deli or market I recommend the French niçois black olives if you can get them. Look for whole olives with their pips as they retain the flavour, and although it takes a bit of patience pitting them they return the favour with a punchy mouthful.
This is a rustic dish and should be served as such – don’t over-process the Tapenade, it needs to have a hearty texture with the garlic and olive flavours taking prominence. Serve with French bread, and a good glass of chilled vino.
• 200gr of black pitted olives
• 1 crushed garlic clove
• 1 tea spoon of capucine capers
• 5 anchovy fillets in olive oil
• 3 tbsp of premium extra virgin olive oil
• 2 fresh thyme leaves
• 1 tbsp of lemon juice
• Black peppercorn
Drain the anchovy fillets and chop them coarsely. Mix the crushed garlic and the chopped anchovies in a mortar.
Rince and dry the capers and chop them finely.
Place all the ingredients in a food processor and process until chopped for 1 to 2 min. Add the olive oil in slow drizzle and process until it becomes a thick, spreadable chunky paste. Season with freshly ground black peppercorn. Chill until required. Tapenade keeps well in a glass jar in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Bring to room temperature before serving.
Provençale tapenade is the perfect accompaniment to fresh baguette, but it can also be used as a dressing or brushed on meat or fish. For those who have a gluten intolerance spread the tapenade on dehydrated Mediterranean vegetables.
From our wine list I recommend Cotes de Provence Rose Cuvée Elégance, Thomas et Cecile Carteron. With floral aromas of bergamot and sweet jasmine as well as red berry fruits this rose has notes of mango and a savoury edge of peach-stone and citrus. Served well chilled this summery rose will bring out the flavours of tapenade and add a splash of delicate colour.
Celebrate the seasons at Maison Bleue award winning Modern French Cuisine, Churchgate
Street, Bury St Edmunds: 01284 760623