Walk around any market in Provence or the Côte d’Azur and you will see stalls heaped with glistening olive pastes and tapenades, usually next to an enormous array of different olives and other pickles.
Tapenade is a typically southern dish made with olives, capers, anchovies and olive oil, chopped finely or blended together into a paste. Its name comes from the Provençal word for capers, “tapenas“.
It’s simple to make your own tapenade, varying the amount of each ingredient to suit, but with such a vast choice of delicious ones available in markets, speciality stores and ordinary grocers around here I always have a pot or two of “ready-made” on the go in my fridge. Within a 10 minute drive we have an award-winning producer in Le Rouret and an olive mill in Opio both of which create delicious tapenades.
Tapenade is a staple ingredient for a southern apéro, just spread on slices of baguette, but my favourite thing to do with it is to make “snails”. Using a roll of ready-made puff pastry, you spread the tapenade all over then roll up from both sides to the middle. In order to slice it thinly I pop it in the freezer for 30 mins, just enough to harden a little but not actually freeze. Now slice into slightly less than 1 cm slices, lay out on a baking tray covered in greaseproof paper and bake for 10-15 minutes at 180°c. It couldn’t be easier and these provençal “snails” never fail to impress.
If you’d like to discover more delicious local foods take a look at Top 8 must-try foods from Provence