Tapenade is a delicious spread/sauce from Southern France made with olives, capers & anchovies. It’s easy to make and so versatile – try it on bread, in pasta and more.
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Many years ago, when I was still a child, one of my older sisters lived in Montpellier in the South of France for a while. I visited with my mum and we explored all over the region, including the Camargue with its white horses and flamingoes, and the medieval walled city of Carcassonne.
Being France, unsurprisingly I have many food memories as well. The fragrant smell of figs, eating ridiculously late for my age in a nice restaurant in Montpellier because it just didn’t serve any earlier, and lots of great picnics. Picnic fare was typically baguettes, various cheeses and cured meats. Sometimes other things would be added to the picnic list and tapenade is a delicious spread from the area that I remember enjoying a few times.
As with so many things, though, I somehow never got round to making it myself. When Sarah from Curious Cuisiniere suggested creating foods from the areas visited by the Tour de France for a special blog event, it seemed like the perfect excuse to give it a try.
What is tapenade?
Tapenade is a paste made with olives, anchovies, olive oil, capers and some herbs and garlic. It’s basically a bit like Southern France’s answer to pesto, and a delicious one as well. Tapenade is just as versatile as pesto, if not more so, being particularly great on bread alone as an appetizer or as a base with cheese/cured meats in sandwiches.
You can also stir it through pasta as a sauce and it’s sometimes used as a filling for chicken. As you might imagine from the ingredients, tapenade is full of flavor. You can make tapenade relatively textured by roughly chopping everything or using a pestle and mortar, or for a smoother (and quicker) version, put everything in a food processor.
As I said, it seemed the perfect excuse to make tapenade as the Tour de France is starting – see the links at the bottom of the post for more great recipes as we make our own culinary tour. I can just imagine making up a baguette with tapenade and other delights to eat while standing to watch the race.
When we visited my sister, the local style of shopping was very much one where you went to the bakery, charcuterie and cheese shops separately to get everything you needed, or at the very least went to a few stalls on the market. With things like bread, you went every day so it was fresh but other things, like tapenade, would keep longer.
The quality of everything was always exceptional. I remember walking around Beziers, I think it was, and lots of small shops selling little jars of tapenade, ready for you to take home and enjoy.
As you’ll see from the recipe, though, you don’t need to buy tapenade at all as it is really easy to make. The recipe below is a base and you can adjust it as suits your taste – increase or decrease garlic, change up the herbs, try different olives. It’s typically made with black olives but you could also use green or a blend.
Tapenade is delicious spread on bread either on its own or along with cheese, cured meats or other toppings in a sandwich, or try it with pasta or chicken. However you enjoy it, tapenade is easy to make, tasty and versatile.
Try these other sauces/spreads:
- 1 cup pitted black olives 100g
- 1 tbsp capers , drained
- 2 anchovy fillets
- 1 clove garlic , peeled
- 1 tbsp parsley 3g, roughly torn
- 1 stem thyme , leaves removed from stem
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Put everything apart from the oil in a food processor and pulse until it forms a relatively fine puree.
- Add the oil a little at a time and pulse again to mix and so it comes together as a paste. Add a little more than the 2tbsp suggested above, if needed.
- Transfer to a serving dish and serve, or keep refrigerated until needed.
See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline’s Cooking Amazon store.
Our Culinary Tour de France – #TourDeManger
While we can’t make it to France to cheer the racers on in person, we’re cheering them on in spirit by joining together with a group of food bloggers to explore the cuisines of the regions they will be biking through. Each talented blogger has made a dish that is representative of one of the regions on the race route. Take a look!
North Western France/Normandy (Mont St Michel) – Chicken Normandy from Curious Cuisiniere
Loire Valley (Angers/Saumur) – Rillettes de Tours from The Petit Gourmet
South Western France/Midi-
Catalonia, Spain (Andorra) – Escalivada from Culinary Adventures with Camilla
AND Coca de Espinacas a la Catalana from Manu’s Menu
South France/Languedoc-Roussillon (Montpellier) – Tapenade from Caroline’s Cooking (you’re here!)
Western Switzerland (Bern) – Meitschibei (Swiss Hazelnut Horseshoe Pastries) from Tara’s Multicultural Table
Paris – Three easy dishes for a taste of Summer in Paris from Confessions of a Culinary Diva
Be sure to visit each one to learn more about the regions on the route and to enjoy a taste of the cuisine! Show us how you plan to eat your way though Le Tour de France all month long with the hashtag #TourDeManger !