grilled vegetable tapenade

by Heguiberto on March 23, 2010

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Did you know that the word tapenade comes from tapéno, which in Provençal means capers? Tapenade is normally made mostly of black olives and lesser amounts of capers, anchovies, olive oil and spices. It’s strange that this amazing paste derives its name from capers, whereas the major ingredient is actually olives.

grilled vegetable tapenade

I love anything made with olives. My fridge never runs out of them though I use them almost every day. Foods come into and out of fashion, but to me, the olive is a timeless classic.

sky view at Pride Mountain

For this tapenade, I tried to re-create one that I made a couple of years ago for a sensational picnic we had with a couple of friends, Suma and Tom, and, at that time at least, their newborn son, Ajay. It was in early spring at Pride Mountain, a winery located in the Mayacamas Mountains right at the crest. The winery sits in Napa and Sonoma Counties. It was a stunning afternoon. The picnic was delicious. Tom and Suma bought a bottle of delightful Pride cabernet sauvignon which we shared as we admired the grounds and the view.

What a pleasant weekend! The wine at Pride was excellent. We should go back there for another tasting and to write an entry for WC. Last week at a dinner party at the home of a mutual friend, Suma mentioned the “Pride tapenade.” She still recalls it two years later. That is high praise. It also got me thinking, so I decided to give it a go once again. It really is good. Cheers to Suma for reminding me of this dish.

Grilled Vegetable Tapenade

1 grilled red pepper, skin, seeds and ribs removed
1 2inch thick slice of grilled eggplant
1 2inch thick slice of grilled white onion
½ cup pitted kalamata olives
½ cup mixed pitted Spanish and Peruvian black olives (I use Goya)
10 oil packed sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp oil from sundried tomatoes
5 fresh basil leaves
1 minced fillet of anchovy (optional)
2 garlic cloves, nuked in the microwave for 5 seconds, or fresh
¼ cup walnuts
½ tsp red wine vinegar or olive brine
1 tsp capers
Pinch cayenne pepper
Fresh black pepper
½ tsp Greek oregano
6 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp water

To grill vegetables:

Pre heat your grill to 450F.

Place red pepper, eggplant and onion in a bowl. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and water. Place pepper, eggplant, onion on grill. Grill onion and eggplant for 12 minutes turning half way. Remove from heat to a bowl, let rest, covered, till room temperature.

Continue cooking pepper for another 10 minutes or until charred and collapsing. Transfer to a paper bag and let it cool completely. Remove skin, stem and seeds.

To make tapenade:

Add all ingredients except nuts to food processor and pulse for a couple of minutes. Add walnuts and pulse again briefly. You want a semi coarse paste. Drizzle a bit of olive oil, transfer to a platter and serve. Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge in a jar covered with a thin layer of olive oil.

Use it as a dip for vegetables, bread, crackers or even as a sauce for pasta.

The flavors are exquisite with a lot going on: sweet, sour, pungent, smoky, salty, and fruity; really the perfect combination. Steven and I almost ate the whole tapenade for dinner one night. There was barely any left for the following day, though it tasted even better then.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Tom March 23, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Thanks for this recipe!! Suma and I loved it and now we have the secret…
Thanks for sharing.

tasteofbeirut March 25, 2010 at 2:07 pm

You know if i was there I would have eaten the whole thing; or we would have been fighting to see who could eat the most! That is just the kind of food I can live on, no question!
I was surprised you nuke the garlic, why?
That winery and the grounds look lovely; Oh how beautiful Northern Cal is !

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