Suzi's Blog

Classic Olive Tapenade with Capers and Anchovies

Yesterday’s post, on capers, mentioned the specialty book Anchovies, Olives and Capers by Georgeanne Brennan. Those three Mediterranean ingredients all have some common characteristics: intensity of flavor, easily recognized flavor, and saltiness from their preparation. What would happen if you combined all three? Well the French asked and answered that question long ago. Here is Brennan’s classic recipe for Tapenade, using anchovies, olives and capers.

Brennan notes that centuries of creative cooks have evolved many recipes for tapenade beyond this basic one. The taste will certainly vary with the olives used. More of this recommended thyme, or still other, herbs can be applied. Ground almonds, bread crumbs, and, I suspect, a secret splash of liquor are also possible additions.

Start with this basic recipe. Spread it on bread, enjoy a hearty red wine with it, and marvel at how three strong ingredients can work together so perfectly.

The saltiness of the three primary ingredients means no additional salt is included in the standard recipe. And the flavors are so intense that pepper is not suggested either. If you do add salt, consider taking your blood pressure.

Tapenade

Yield: 1 cup

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups salt-cured black olives, pitted
16 anchovy fillets
3 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
½ teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Preparation:

Traditionally, this spread is made with a mortar and pestle, pounding the ingredients until they form a smooth paste. The process can also be accomplished in a blender, however. Put all the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.

If you are not using the tapenade immediately, put the puree in a jar, cover tightly and store in the refrigerator, where it will keep for up to three months. [See, that salt can really accomplish something — 3 months!]

If you have refrigerated the tapenade, bring it back to room temperature before serving. It’s interesting if eaten cold, but warmth is needed for the flavors to merge, meld, and emerge sublimely.

Source: Olives, Anchovies, and Capers by Georgeanne Brenna

Potatoes, Olives and Capers with White Anchovy Vinaigrette

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Yesterday I posted a recipe for White Anchovy Vinaigrette, and I promised today you’d have a wonderful way to use that flavorful dressing.

Here that recipe is: potatoes, olives and capers tossed with the vinaigrette. Talk about sensory overload: here you have anchovy, capers, caperberries, olives, scallions, a host of herbs, mustard and vinegar. The recipe does not call for garlic, but I’m sure you could sneak some in. As specified, this dish is served warm, right off the stove. But the next day, the leftovers present you with an intensely herbed potato salad. Either hot or cold, these potatoes are the perfect match for a high intensity main dish, say a roast leg of lamb.

I hope you experiment with this recipe and can enjoy its abundance of flavors hot or cold.

Potatoes, Olives & Capers with Anchovy Vinaigrette

Yield: serves about 12 people as a side dish

Ingredients:

2 pounds fingerling potatoes, scrubbed
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 ¼ cup small, picked springs parsley
½ cup small picked sprigs dill
18 whole caperberries
½ cup capers
18 mixed green and black olives, pitted and split
12 whole scallions, thickly sliced
Half the recipe of What Anchovy Vinaigrette [please see earlier blog]

Preparation:

Put the potatoes in a large pot of generously salted cold water and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently until just crisp-tender, about 7 to 9 minutes. Drain the potatoes and spread out on a plate. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight. Cut into rustic, bite-size chunks and season with kosher salt and pepper.

In a very large skillet, sauté pan or pot, warm the oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot, add the potatoes (no crowding!). Roast the potatoes, shaking the pan, for several minutes, until most pieces turn a golden color. Add the herbs, caperberries, capers, olives, and scallions and shake the pan for 1 minute more, just to wilt the herbs and scallions. Add the White Anchovy Vinaigrettte and warm through. Transfer to a serving platter and serve immediately.

Source: How to Roast a Lamb by Michael Psilakis