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One French word: olive, a French recipe: tapenade

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The French language bit:

Olive, feminine noun (une olive, l’olive, des olives) = olive (pronounced oh-leave)  

Olive verte = green olive, olive noire = black olive, de l’huile d’olive = olive oil, de l’huile d’olive vierge = virgin olive oil, des olives dénoyautées = stoned (pitted) olives, un olivier = an olive tree, une branche (or un rameau) d’olivier = an olive branch, du bois d’olivier = olive wood, une oliveraie = an olive grove.

It is also a colour: vert olive = olive green,

and a (very out of fashion) female first name, Olive; but a quite fashionable and inter-generational male first name, Olivier.

Olive oil is of course widely used in Mediterranean, and therefore French, cuisine, as are olives. My recipe is for tapenade, a paste made with black olives. Recipes for tapenade vary, ingredients sometimes trade green olives for the black, and it is used widely as well as an ingredient in other dishes such as lamb or rabbit stew, pasties, etc.

Main ingredients for tapenade

For a cupful you will need:

  • 100gr stoned black olives
  • 25gr capers
  • 25gr anchovy fillets
  • 1/2 clove garlic
  • about 15cl olive oil
  • a little lemon juice

The anchovy fillets can be the very salty, thin, deep red kind, or the less salty, fatter silvery kind. Do not re-salt your mixture.  I also added a few dashes of tabasco, but this is not traditional.

Drain the olives and the anchovies and put all the roughly chopped ingredients plus a tbs or two of olive oil into a mini blender and pulse to obtain a smooth paste. No recognizable bits should remain. If the paste is not smooth enough, add a tiny bit more olive oil, until you get it to the right consistency. It should be like jam that does not fall off your piece of toast, not sloppy.  A bit more liquid than peanut butter? Difficult to say really. It is a little bitter and should be moderately salty.

Spread it onto biscuits, blinis, or squares of toast, or slices of baguette cut at an angle for apéritif nibbles. You may garnish these with chopped chives, half a cherry tomato, or any other embellishment that comes to mind (but you don’t have to, it’s nice just by itself, just not very exciting looking). Try it with a glass of wine while preparing a meal.

Tapenade will keep in a jar, covered, for a few days in the fridge. Do cover it or it will garlic up your whole fridge.

Not brilliant presentation, but never mind…

Bon appétit!


About OneFrenchWord

I was a professional linguist and have been a life-long foodie. I am now lucky enough to be retired and free to roam the beaches around my home at the tip of the Finistère (Brittany, France). Writing is occupying a larger place in my life, with this blog and a children's book in preparation. I shall feel much happier calling myself a writer when I have published a book. And so posts on OneFrenchWord will be published first as an e-book, my ambition being to see a glossy volume on French language and cuisine in print some day. So keep reading, and snap up the book when it appears!

4 responses »

  1. Wonderful recipe for one of my favorite foods: olives….in our youth, grandparents had a farm with olive trees, and used to cure our own olives….

    • How wonderful to have one’s own olive trees! I have had my own walnut trees, but never an olive tree that produced. I bought one one year as a Christmas tree, then planted it in the garden, but it didn’t like the climate and faded away.

  2. I love tapenade and often use it on petits toasts as an amuse bouche. You can leave out the olives and make anchoiade instead. Or leave out the anchovies for veggie guests. Either way, it’s a taste of the sun.

  3. Pingback: Italian Black Olive Spread | recipe 2 recipe

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