Tapenade is nectar to the gods, vegemite for grownups and a marvellous stimulator of your thirst, appetite and other base passions. Not to be consumed in the presence of minors.
The name tapenade comes from the Provencal word for caper, so these are one of the non-negotiable ingredients, the others being garlic, olives and anchovies. If you see commercial tapenades without these ingredients forget about them.
If you look in supermarkets or even gourmet food stores you can find all sorts of products called tapenade, I have seen such things as sundried tomato tapenade, green olive tapenade, or even black olive tapenade. But it is much, much better to make your own.
Don't be too fussy about exact quantities. Blend the ingredients in a kitchen processor, but don't overdo it, some texture is good. Keep back some of the oil and adjust the acid-oil balance at the end.
You can use a little English mustard to warm things up. You can use red or white wine vinegar instead of the lemon juice. A teaspoon of horseradish sauce will add just another layer of complexity to the flavour.
Just spread it onto some French stick sliced into rounds. For a real indulgence you can spread some lightly toasted ciabacca bread with a soft goat cheese. Then spread on some tapenade and top with slices of ripe tomato and maybe a fresh basil leaf.
I also enjoy a sandwich made with ripe tomatoes and tapenade between slices of white Italian bread.
A generous spoon of tapenade can enliven a meal of grilled or steamed fish. Or perhaps you can stir it through some freshly cooked pasta like you would use pesto.
This sharp, salty and savoury delight just cries out for a full flavoured dry rose, say one made from Sangiovese. Or you could try a bold dry white wine such as Vermentino, or even a cool light bodied red wine. Gamay is a fine choice
Tapenade will keep in a jar in the fridge for a couple of weeks in the unlikely event that you don't eat it all at once.
How do you use tapenade? Use the comment box below to share your thoughts.
This dozen contains 2 bottles from each of six different producers in several regions. The varieties included are Alicante Bouschet, Carmenere, Lagrein, Montepulciano and Sangiovese, plus a red blend from Heathcote containing Nero d’Avola, Sangiovese, Lagrein, Schioppettino & a little Lambrusco Maestro.
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