Tapenade is a salty refreshing olive spread that brightens up any bread or cracker plate. You’ve seen it all over the place, in restaurants and bars, and if you like olives I’m sure you’re a fan. It is one of the best snacks to accompany wine. And its name (in French) means…caper-ade. As in capers. Whaaaaaaaaaaat? Did anyone know this outside of France beside the person who wrote tapenade’s wikipedia article? “What even are capers?” you may be asking yourself. Apparently they’re flower buds from a bush. Weird. Tapenade does not taste very flowery but ok. What a misleading name. I did not even know that capers (or anchovies!) were in a traditional tapenade; aren’t briney olives enough? Why add more salt? That’s a whole lot of questions, but the answer to all of them is “delicious”.
It turns out that the subtle blend of garlic, anchovies, lemon, and capers is a fantastic complement to olives, adding more depth of flavor and brightness. Olives on their own can be mouth numbingly salty, over time deadening your taste buds, so you need those other flavors to really accentuate the taste. This is important because it means you can keep eating tapenade while you and a friend or two pound a bottle of wine without getting bored of what you’re nibbling on. If you’re like Julia and need to eat while you drink to keep the party going, consider tapenade a gateway food to a happier, more inebriated you!
But if you’re bratty like me, tapenade is not enough, more flavors are a must! The board featured below is a lot prettier looking than what Julia and I normally construct for ourselves, but it is a pretty typical collection of snacks for us. Cheese and meat and a dip and ok maybe some veggies so we don’t feel too bad about indulging. A huge bonus of doing these recipe posts is that when we’re done taking pictures we get to eat all this goodness. And I cannot recommend this buffalo mozzarella enough. BUF Creamery knows what they are doing people, go try it for yourself. Their cheese is incredibly smooth and creamy and delicious. We originally were going to only eat the portion you see below (1/2 the container) but ended up eating the whole thing because it was too damn good.
The salame Calabrese from Gusto was also quite good with a nice crushed red pepper and fennel flavor. The kale salad is dressed in a simple lemon vinaigrette with pine nuts. And pickled artichoke hearts complete the board, adding some much needed textural variety. All in all this platter was enough lunch for both us, and could comfortably serve 4. The tapenade recipe that follows will produce about double the amount of tapenade that you see here, so keep that in mind. Summer is right around the corner, and summer get-togethers don’t always have to be beer, burgers, and chips. A classy Mediterranean snack board with olive tapenade and some chilled rose or sauvignon blanc is a great way to bring people together.