A Taste of Provence – Tapenade

4 Jul

Fresh back from our holiday in France, I am trying to prolong the holiday mood by cooking southern French food. We had two weeks of pure sunshine in Antibes and we’ve been back a week now – what have we had? Two days of light rain, two days of sun, one bad storm followed by occasional showers and cloudy skies. So we really need something to bridge the time till the next vacation.

Having visited the Provencal market several times in Antibes, I noticed that there were many stalls selling appetizers like olives, sundried tomatoes, herbs and tapenades. The market wasn’t very big but there were at least 5 stalls selling the same sort of thing. The place was teeming with tourists. I quite doubt that very many locals do their shopping there, preferring to go to the big Hypermarché’s where you can spend hours and get everything under the sun.

There are people who like olives and those who don’t and I belong to those who don’t. I’ve seen recipes for tapenades and have often steered clear of them until one day, I was served an amuse-bouche in a restaurant which consisted of a tiny slice of baguette with the infamous tapenade. It was actually quite delicious. So when I saw these stalls selling tapenade, I stopped to examine what was on offer. I noticed that there were three varieties  – the dark olive one, one made with green olives and a red one made with the addition of sun-dried tomatoes. I made a note to go back on the last day of our holiday to get some but as luck would have it, we were caught up with other things and I sadly never made it back to the market before it closed that day. So that left me no choice but to google for a recipe and make my own. In doing so, I also learnt a bit about what a tapenade is.

The name tapenade stems from the provençal word for capers, tapenas (Occitan pronunciation: [taˈpenɔ]). It is eaten as a dip with raw cut vegetables called crudités or as a spread on toasted slices of baguette or just on bread. Sometimes it is stuffed in or spread over meat and fish before cooking. The base of the tapenade is olives, usually black ones. It is puréed to a paste with olive oil. To vary the flavours other ingredients may be added such as capers, sundried tomatoes, garlic, anchovies, herbs or lemon juice. Some people like to purée it to a smooth paste while others like a slightly coarser texture.

I made this version below today and it was delicious. Serving it on a slice of toasted baguette would be great but since we are low carbing here, I’ve spread them on little slices of a bread roll I made out of my Low Carb Sunflower Seed Loaf dough, recipe found here.

This version has the addition of capers. Capers can sometimes be quite salty so I decided to start with one tablespoon first before proceeding further. I found that one tablespoon was sufficient and so omitted adding the second tablespoon called for below.

Black Olive and Sundried Tomato Tapenade


1/2 cup pitted black olives

1/2 cup sundried tomatoes (packed in oil)

a large bunch fresh basil leaves

2 Tbsp capers

4 Tbsp good olive oil, plus more if necessary

Chop the olives and sundried tomatoes a little and place them in a blender. Add the rest of the ingredients. Purée until smooth. If the paste is too thick, add a bit more olive oil and purée till coarse or fine. Spread on bread, garnish with a basil leaf and enjoy! Don’t forget to enjoy this with a small glass of red wine!

Print this recipe – Black Olive and Sundried Tomato Tapenade

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