Made in France: Tapenade | Quality Villas

made in france: tapenade


There’s no doubt about it; French cuisine is one of the best in the world. From flavoursome savoury dishes to wonderfully sweet desserts, there is a wide array of culinary delights to experience whilst you holiday in this beautiful country. One of the most popular French foods is Tapenade, a soft yet decadent paste that is usually served with crunchy fresh bread and enjoyed as a pre-dinner nibble or snack. But what are its origins, how is it made and what other recipes does it feature in? Join us as we discover more about this delicious delicacy!

What is Tapenade?

A firm French favourite, Tapenade is a paste traditionally made using black or green olives, capers, anchovies and olive oil, with the added flavourings of basil, garlic, mustard and parsley. Deriving its name from the Provençal word for caper buds, this flavoursome blend can include other ingredients such as artichokes, feta and sun-dried tomatoes, and is usually spread over fresh bread and served as an hors d’oeuvre. Although it can be easily made at home, Tapenade is readily available to buy in jars for those who would like to try it beforehand. 

A selection of pastes including Tapenade served on a plate with fresh bread.

Where in France is Tapenade From?

While Tapenade is widely considered to be a French delicacy, the capers used to make it are thought to have been brought to Provence initially by Greeks, who travelled to France in the sixth century B.C. and made their home near Marseilles, bringing with them the caper plant, which is now widespread across the Mediterranean. 

Known in the Provençal dialect as the tapeno, the flower buds of capers were soaked in olive oil as an alternative to vinegar (which was not used at this time) and preserved in amphoras – Greek jugs – to be made into a paste. While today, several other ingredients are used to make Tapenade, this is why the paste was originally named after capers rather than olives, which now constitute far more of the blend!

How Do You Make Tapenade? 

Not only is Tapenade absolutely delicious but it’s also super easy to make, so why not bring a little snippet of your time staying in one of our luxury holiday villas in the French Riviera home with you and try making some yourself? 

Olives and capers are the two main ingredients used to make Tapenade, and while you’ll likely find capers available to purchase in a jar, ensuring that other ingredients such as olives, garlic and chilli are bought fresh can help to give your Tapenade maximum flavour. 

Once you have accumulated each of the ingredients including 250g of pitted black or green olives, 35g of capers, 10g of drained anchovies, 10g of garlic, 1 chopped red chilli and 3 tbsp of olive oil, all you need to do is blend them all together in a food processor. Finally, spread the paste over a warm, toasted baguette and voila! Your Tapenade is ready to enjoy. 

Olives oil being poured into a glass bowl surrounded by green olives.

What Recipes Include Tapenade? 

As well as making a mouth-watering hors d’oeuvre, Tapenade can also be used in various recipes to create rich and exciting dishes that are sure to wow any guests you may have visiting. When serving bruschetta as a starter, Tapenade can make a great alternative to pesto and be spread on top for that extra kick of saltiness. For a main course, try stuffing the paste into poultry or using it as a sauce in a pasta dish to give it that extra depth and richness. 

However you enjoy it, Tapenade is a simple yet versatile food that will provide a taste sensation, taking you back to those classic French dining experiences that make holidays in France so very special. If you’d like to discover more about French food, check out these five dishes to try during your next holiday to the South of France. Alternatively, browse our gorgeous range of villas in France today to start planning your next culinary adventure! 

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