Tapenade is a type of dip or spread used in Italian cuisine, and is usually served as an appetizer. Here is a Tapenade recipe from our European expert Dave Lorch...
Brunoise (very finely dice) one small shallot.
Fry VERY gently in a heavy-based pan (with lid for later) with a good glug of best quality extra virgin olive oil (don't skimp on quality or the amount) and a pinch of salt. Peel and remove the heel from one clove of garlic and then blitz into a paste with some salt or do it with a knife. Once the shallot has softened and before it starts to brown, add in the garlic paste and continue to cook slowly for a couple of minutes with the lid on the pan. Roughly chop about 20 Kalamata olives (each one into 5-7 pieces is about right but it doesn't have to be too precise at all).
Add the olives to the pan, followed by de-stoned and roughly chopped (similar size to the olives) Medjool dates.
Stir frequently at this stage as the natural sugars in the dates will stick and catch on the pan if not. Cook for a couple of minutes always on the lowest heat. Then add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and let the liquid reduce back down to almost nothing - you'll smell the vinegar evaporating. Then add a large glass of rich, heavier red wine (merlot, cab sauv, shiraz, grenache etc., together with two lightly crushed Szechuan peppercorns, about a tablespoon of lemon juice and a few grinds of black pepper. Turn up the heat to full, stir all the time until the alcohol in the wine burns off (you will smell this start to disappear after a minute or two boiling). Then turn the heat right back down again, stirring frequently to allow the mix to reduce in temperature slightly.
Once back down to a SLOW simmer, replace the lid and cook for 30-45 minutes, stirring once in a while.
If it looks dry, just add a glug of water, stir and replace the lid. Once it looks like the right consistency (slightly looser than a chutney) and has been allowed to cook for 30-45 mins, take off the heat, stir again, replace the lid and let it sit in the pan to cool. Once it has cooled, transfer to a container, seal and put in the fridge to chill. it is very important to let it sit for at least a day, but preferably 2-3 days before serving. If you wish to keep it beyond that then just gently pour on a layer of olive oil to the cooled tapenade and store in an airtight container. It will keep very well like this. Serve on crostini with a slice of manchego cheese and quince jelly; make canapés by pan-frying lamb fillet to rare, slicing thinly and layering on toasted ciabatta with some feta cheers; or add to a little reduced red wine to make a superb instant sauce for chicken, brill, turbot or monkfish.