RECIPES

Black Olive Tapenade

Here is a delicious vegan tapenade recipe! This so Provençal condiment is part of all the “aperitif” tables of our beautiful region, specially when the sun’s rays are at their highest.

A happy condiment

It’s for me one of those flavors that instantly bring me back to particularly happy times.

We gather with friends in the sun on the terrace, the atmosphere is there, full glasses cross each other and clash in bursts of laughter…

A small table in the middle invites us to put down our glass because our eye is suddenly attracted by this appetizing tapenade that thrones in its center.

Our fingers find some vegs sticks or croutons to dig into it, and we then taste this sumptuous olive caviar.

We feel good, joyful, happy to be there, a true mouthful of paradise!

My dear Provence is indeed filled with beautiful olive trees because its mild and dry climate is perfectly suited to them. I love so much the delicate scent of its flowers in spring. And I’m always looking forward to harvest their ripe blackened fruits in Winter when I have a chance, just to play with the brines!

My olives in brine

Was tapenade vegan originally?

Indeed, tapenade was originally vegan. It is only later that anchovies were added. The name tapenade comes from the Provencal word “taperié” or “tapana”, from the name of the caper tree.

Capers are one of the key ingredients of the recipe. There are more than 150 varieties in the world. But only one reached our shore, brought by the Greeks several hundred years ago.

Provence was also a major production place of capers preserved in vinegar in the 18th and 19th century. It was then exported all over Europe.

These flower buds are now mainly produced in Morocco, Spain and Italy. The production of France covers its own consumption.

Caper flower, so pretty!

Olive-based preparations have existed since antiquity.

Writings have been found, that mention the composition of epityrum: an olive puree with added oil, vinegar, coriander, cumin, fennel, mint and “rue” (officinal plant growing in dry areas, with a small acre taste).

In the culinary tradition of Provence, two types of tapenades are generally offered: black tapenade and green tapenade. The latter is prepared with green olives. It used to be associated with almonds or pine nuts in equal parts. I really like the slightly grainy texture that is traditionally left. It is very pleasant in the mouth and it contrasts well with the texture of black tapenade.

There are many varieties of olives. My favorite is the Nyons variety, as I pointed out in my recipe for Provençal tartlet. It is possible that the one you buy (or produce yourself if you are so lucky!) may be very salty.

In that case you can let them soak in warm water for a few minutes and then mix them well before rinsing them. This will allow you to adjust the salt level yourself at the end of the preparation.

Tapenade, so much to benefit from!

What are the benefits of olives?

I must admit that before writing this article I never deeply asked myself this question! Strange though, because I like to know all benefits of food. But an olive is so good, also it is fermented food, so it can only be good, right? Here is the result of my research 🙂

Antioxydants

Naturally brine fermented olives are rich in polyphenols and monounsaturated fatty acids (1). Polyphenols are associated with a protective effect on health and prevent chronic diseases.

Eating 7 olives per day provides 5 milligrams of polyphenols, which corresponds to the recommendations of the EU (2).

Vitamins

Their content in vitamins A and E helps protect the retina, and help keep the skin supple and elastic and thus prevent wrinkles! (Now that I have to remember!)

Healthy fats

These beautiful, fat and juicy olives are nevertheless not an obstacle to keep your figure in shape!

Indeed, as they are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, they have an action against abdominal fat (3). They help with digestion, insulin production, and to reach the sensation of satiety more quickly.

Olive oil contains six to eight times more monounsaturated fatty acids compared to the same quantity of olives. This is due to the fact that the oil contains only fatty acids.

Monounsaturated fatty acids, which account for 75% of the lipids in olives (4), are also associated with protection against cardiovascular diseases.

Iron

In addition, black olives provide an iron content that stimulates the immune system.

Remember that the absorption of iron from plants increases when vitamin C is associated with it (4). So, shall we dig this broccoli floret into this beautiful tapenade?

Prefer black olives?

It should be noted that black olives contains 3 to 4 times more phenolic compounds than green olives, therefore a greater antioxidant capacity (4). Just so you know 😉

All these properties including those of olive oil have made the reputation of our Mediterranean diet! Well, when you can combine business with pleasure…

All black olives are not the same

Beware of industrial olives. In fact, not all olives are the same. Some production methods could even be harmful to our health.

Almost 100% of industrial black olives are in fact… green olives ! They soak them in a chemical that color them black!(5)

Really, so that’s how we got fooled?

Yes, it is more profitable for these industries to spread the harvest over several months, when the olives are still very green. And they accelerate with treatments what nature naturally does in several months. And green olives are faster to pit! Money money money…

An explosive cocktail…

So they first immerse them in soda or potash (which is used to unclog sinks).

Then they put them in a very salty brine to soften them, because they are very rigid.

They then add ferrous gluconate (E579) which will blacken the flesh in just a few days.

So we are fooled not only on the color, but also on the texture and flavor!

Where are the health properties?

Of course these treatments destroy most of the bioactive components that are beneficial to our health. And even black olives are sometimes treated with ferrous gluconate. So let’s read the labels carefully.

Choosing the right quality

Let’s favor organic olives because additives are forbidden.

On the markets pay attention to the resellers. Let’s prefer to buy them directly from a Farmer, with whom we additionnally have an opportunity to chat with about his work.

So here is my good little recipe with organic olives bought from my Farmer 🙂

Black Olive Tapenade

Stéphaële – Raw Cuisine Culinary
The “tapenade”, one of the staples of our Provencal aperitif! Discover here a completely vegan and absolutely delicious recipe, to try for your next aperitif!
Prep Time 15 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Mediterranean

Equipment

  • blender

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups pitted black olives about 300g
  • 5 tbsp capers in vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp chopped shallot
  • 2 tsp dry thyme

Instructions
 

  • Place all the ingredients in the blender and blend until the consistency is smooth.
  • Your tapenade is ready! You can enjoy it on crackers, or sticks of carrot, celery, bell pepper, radish, cauliflower or broccoli. All these vegetables can be eaten raw.
  • Tip: you can dehydrate your vegetable sticks for 1 hour for a more tender texture.

I hope you will want to try this recipe! Do you manage to find good quality olives near where you live?

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References:

1 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28555038/

2 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31416621/

3 https://www.santemagazine.fr/alimentation/aliments-et-sante/fruits/tous-les-bienfaits-sante-des-olives-172160

4 https://www.passeportsante.net/fr/Nutrition/EncyclopedieAliments/Fiche.aspx?doc=olives_nu

5 https://www.francetvinfo.fr/sante/alimentation/video-comment-des-industriels-fabriquent-des-fausses-olives-noires_3483421.html

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