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What is tapenade?

The origins of tapenade

Tapenade originates in southern France (Provence) on the Mediterranean about 150 miles from the Italian border and is a huge favorite in Italy. The name comes from the Provencal word tapeno meaning caper. It is sometimes referred to as an olive paste and many chefs consider it a gourmet condiment. It is always a hit at any social occasion I have. It goes best on Italian flat bread or crostini, but it can be eaten with or on pita bread. I have tried a lot of variations on the theme and finally arrived at my favorite mixture of these delicious ingredients. It is also a healthy dish and incredibly easy to whip up.

Ingredients (8 people):

  • 4 garlic gloves peeled and diced
    * 1/2 lemon juice from the lemon
    * 1.5 tablespoons capers – drained (Bella is a good brand)
    * 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    * 1/2 pound parmesan cheese – imported is the best if you can afford it
    * 6 anchovy filets from can
    * 1 cup fresh basil
    * 1 – 6 oz bottle Kalamata olives (Vigo is a good brand) – pour brine off and take pits out

Italian tapenade


Just throw all the ingredients in a blender, chill and serve with flat bread, pita or crostini. If you want to live on the wild side and you know you will not be serving to children, add a small amount of cognac to see if you enjoy it more. If you want to experiment with other ingredients here are some suggestions: mustard (Dijon), red wine vinegar, brandy, artichokes, portabella mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, or green olives. Tapenade can also be used as a stuffing in meat or fish, mixed with pasta, on a baked potato or in a sandwich.

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Tapenade butter

You can make tapenade butter by mixing the above recipe with butter (start with 8 tablespoons and keep adding to get the consistency you want). Tapenade butter is fantastic under the skin of a chicken while roasting or as a meat garnish. You can also form the tapenade butter into a stick, by wrapping it in cellophane and chilling so that it can be cut into slices.

Jack Botticelli

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1 Comment

  1. It looks so delicious BubbleGum I actually tried something similar few weeks ago in one Italian restautant but I think that there were no anchoa and garlic. Anyway it was so delicous especially if you put it to fresh backed bread.

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