Suzi's Blog

Really Simple Anchovy, Caper and Tomato Salad

“Don’t add salt.” Suzen was issuing a command, not a suggestion.

I had just described the dinner I was planning. I’m upstate and she’s in the city. Her antennae are always up when I’m on my own, the kitchen is mine, and she’s wondering what the devil I’m going to create.

“No salt,” I replied calmly. “Just pepper.” Actually, I was already in the pepper-only mode. Even I have my salt limits.

This salad is the Really Simple class. You can make this in less than a minute. Uh, but you shouldn’t. There’s some slicing involved and I want all your fingertips in place at the end.

Here’s the idea: top fresh tomato with anchovies and capers then add some balsamic vinegar. It’s simple, quick, and thoroughly satisfying. The intensity of the anchovies, the capers, and the vinegar will generate a sizzle in your mouth.

Anchovy, Caper and Tomato Salad

Yield: 1 serving

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium tomato, still firm and meaty
  • 10 white anchovy fillets
  • 1 tablespoon of capers
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Pepper
  • Chives, optional

Preparation:

Wash and dry the tomato. Slice it into 6-8 pieces. Arrange the pieces on a plate. Place the anchovy fillets on top of the tomato slices, then top with the capers. Pour the vinegar over the tomatoes. Flavor with fresh pepper.

If you desire, decorate with some diced chives.

Source: Brian O’Rourke

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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