TAPENADE and cauliflower-Travelling in the South West of France

This cauliflower is ceramic. I remembered I had this photo and chose to use it instead of one of a real cauliflower.  It was one of the many beautiful decorative objects in Le Pont De L’Ouysse Restaurant in the countryside of Lacave, not far from Rocamadour, in the Lot, South West of France.

The restaurant is recommended in Stephanie Alexander’s Cooking & Travelling in the South-West France.  I stayed with my partner and two friends in the same converted barn – La Vieille Grange in Mercadiol , a small hamlet in the South West of France.

And all this to tell you about olive Tapenade which I love to eat with steamed cauliflower.

Tapenade made from black olives, mustard, anchovies, capers (some use brandy) comes from Languedoc, further south than the Lot, but the olive tapenade I prefer is from Provence. It is fresh and light and very summery. In the Occitan region in the south of France (Occitan –romance language spoken in southern France), the word for capers is tapéno, hence the name for this popular spread.

I present it with bread but sometimes I accompany it with some vegetable crudities. Raw or steamed cauliflower flowerets are a pleasant addition.

But Tapenade also comes in very handy as a sauce or condiment for simply cooked fish or vegetables, especially steamed cauliflower.

Tapenade is a pesto and traditionally made with a mortar and pestle. I cut my herbs by hand (otherwise they can taste grassy) and then add them to the olives that I have chopped in the food processor.

I also need to give credit to y friend Liz who introduced me to Tapenade as made in Provence, many years ago.

I do not weigh/measure ingredients when I make this but the following works.

INGREDIENTS
pitted olives, 2 cups (I use Kalamata because I like their strong taste)
capers, 2 tablespoons
garlic, 2 cloves crushed
extra virgin olive oil, 1 cup
lemon juice, 1 lemon
freshly ground pepper, to taste
fresh herbs, cut by hand, 1 cup of each: Italian parsley, thyme, basil (sometimes, I have added marjoram or fresh oregano)
PROCESSES
Place olives crushed garlic in a food processor and chop to a medium grind (I do not like it too smooth).
Cut all the herbs and add them to the olives, add oil lemon and pepper.
Blend again for 5 seconds to mix the ingredients.

Place the tapenade in a sterile jar and cover it with a thin layer of olive oil – keep it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

It comes in very handy!!

River Ouysse
Bridge destroyed in 1966 (can see this from restaurant)

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