Tapenade is a classic of the French culinary tradition. Born in the south, where olives grow in abundance, the name actually comes from the regional name for the caper. While many recipes are completely vegan, it is also very common to include anchovies in the mix. If you are ever looking for a commercial tapenade in your local grocery store, be sure to check the ingredients, as many include the anchovy.
My favorite tapenade memory came when Cally and I visited Paris for the first time. Beyond trying to fit in all of the typical tourist sites in our short visit, we made a special trip to the legendary Poilane Bakery for some of their remarkable bread. Right around the corner was an open-air market where we found a vendor who had vegan tapenade available. We bought some and stood next to a local church tearing off chunks of bread and scooping up the tapenade. Bliss!
While it can be made quite easily and successfully in a food processor, there are differences when you make it in a mortar and pestle. The sizes of the pieces are less uniform and not as fully ‘homogenized’ as the food processor version. I like the subtle variations bite to bite, but use whichever method you’d prefer, or whichever texture is most appropriate for your purposes. As a spread on a sandwich a smoother tapenade, almost a paste, would be a good idea, whereas as a component to a sauce, like it is being used here, a coarser texture me be preferable.
- ¾ cups black olives, pitted
- ½ small shallot, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 small garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon capers, drained
- ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, preferably from an organic lemon
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (bonus points for using an oil that is made from the same type of olive as you’ve chosen above)
- If using a food processor, add all of the ingredients except the parsley and olive oil and process until everything is ground fairly finely. Add the parsley and oil and pulse a few times to incorporate.
- If using a mortar and pestle, start by crushing the garlic to a paste, followed by the shallots. Add the olives and work until they are a smooth as you’d like, then add the capers and lemon zest. Finish by working in the lemon juice, parsley and oil. I personally like a tapenade that still has some chunky bits, but go with whatever works for you.