I first tried tapenade on my honeymoon in Provence 19 years ago. One morning, my then "shiny new husband" and I eagerly set out to the early morning outdoor market at L'Isles-sur-la-Sorgue in search of this rich condiment that we had just read about in Peter Mayle's iconic books, "A year in Provence" and "Toujours Provence." (I wrote about our encounter with Mr. Mayle here) The market in this picturesque riverside town is known for its "antiquaires" and "broquantes" (antique dealers and nic nacs) but we were fortunate enought to find a purveyor of olives and tapenade. I've never seen so many varieties and colors of olives all lined up in baskets... stunning. We purchased an earthen pot of tapenade along with a baguette and a fine bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape. That evening on our balcony at the auberge in Bonnieux we slathered our "black butter of Provence" on slices of baguette and sipped our bold wine while watching the sunset... marriage is good indeed.
The next morning my husband decided to again have the tapenade smeared on his croissant. He informed me that he had wisely kept it outside on the balcony to keep it cold overnight. Very unfortunately for him, the night was not cold enough and with one of the key ingredients being anchovies... he became violently ill for the next four days. Who'd have thought the "in sickness and in health" part would become relevant so soon after the vows. So for the second week of our honeymoon I discovered Provence on my own. I explored ancient hilltop villages, I toured world class wineries, I savored memorable meals.... alone.
Since that fateful day, my husband prefers his tapenade 'sans' anchovies. A traditional tapenade would have black olives, capers, anchovies, and olive oil. My recipe is a simple one of equal parts dried figs and black oil cured olives combined in a food processor with a drizzle of olive oil to bind it all together. The sweetness of the figs is a perfect balance to the saltiness of the olives.
I made the tapenade to put in a little gift basket of homemade goodies to bring with me this weekend to give to my in-laws as a housewarming gift for having us for the Thanksgiving weekend.
May you have a wondeful Thanksgiving filled with many blessings!
Fig and black olive tapenade
1 cup oil cured black olives
1 cup dried figs with the stems trimmed off
a drizzle of olive oil
In a food processor combine the olives and figs by pulsing them many times until the mixture is well combined but still a bit chunky. Drizzle a little olive oil in to the mixture to make it the consitancy you prefer. Store refigerated in an airtight container for up to one week. Serve at room temperature. Spread on crackers or slices of toasted baguette.
Printable recipe.... click here.
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