Green Tapenade—A Paste of Another Hue

September 24, 2009

As for me, olives, endives, and smooth mallows provide sustenance.
~Horace (65 BC – 8 BC), Roman lyric poet

The olive itself is quite evidently the fruit of the squatty olive tree (Olea europaea) which is native to the coastal areas of the eastern Mediterranean basin. Unlike most fruits though, olives are not eaten in their raw state, as the high level of glucosides naturally found in raw olives makes them strikingly bitter. For olives to become edible, the bitterness must be drawn from them through one of several methods: lye curing, water or brine curing, or dry curing.

The color of an olive indicates the stage of ripeness at which it was picked. Green olives are fruit picked before they have ripened, usually in early autumn.

Lucques olives originated in Lucca, Italy, but are now grown exclusively in France—particularly in the glorious Hérault countryside of the Languedoc region in southern France. Brine cured, long and slightly curved with firm bright green flesh, Lucques are meaty and full flavored with a sweet, buttery, and nutty finish. Lucques are freestone olives in that the flesh does not cling to the pits. The olives must be kept submerged in their light brine since they discolor very easily.

A black tapenade recipe is found on the previous post entitled Tapenade—Provencal Olive Paste, 02.03.09. Both tapenades can be used as dips, with cheeses, on pizzas, with pasta, in vinaigrettes, on crostinis. That is a short list.

GREEN TAPENADE

2 C olives, such as Lucques or Picholines, pitted
2 fresh plump garlic cloves, peeled and chopped roughly
2 T capers, drained and rinsed
2 high quality anchovy fillets
1/2 t fresh thyme leaves
2 T lemon juice, freshly squeezed
Zest of 1 lemon
2 t Dijon mustard
Dash of brandy or cognac
6 T olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

If the anchovies are salt packed, let them stand in a bowl of milk for 15 minutes to exude the salt. Then, drain and pat dry thoroughly.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the drained anchovies, olives, capers, mustard, garlic, cognac and thyme. Process in bursts until thick and chunky.

With the processor running, add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream until it is thoroughly incorporated. Season with pepper, then allow the tapenade to stand for an hour or so to allow the flavors to marry.

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