Bruschetta with Fromage Blanc and Olive and Artichoke Tapenade

Tapenade is one of the classic salty condiments of southern Europe, made in one version or another virtually everywhere olives are grown. Smooth or chunky, it almost always includes brine-cured olives, garlic and anchovies. This version adds two other ingredients common to Provence and northern Italy: artichokes and walnuts.

Wine recommendation: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

  • For the tapenade:
  • * 2 large artichokes
  • * 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • * 2 garlic cloves
  • * 2 anchovy fillets, drained
  • * 1 teaspoon green peppercorns in brine, drained
  • * 1 teaspoon minced lemon zest
  • * 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • * 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • * 3/4 cup (4 ounces) picholine or cracked green olives, pitted and minced
  • * 2 tablespoons (2 ounces) walnut pieces, toasted and minced
  • * 1 tablespoon Italian parsley, minced
  • * 1 teaspoon fresh tarragon, minced
  • * Freshly ground black pepper
  • For the bruschetta:
  • * 1-pound loaf of crusty country bread, cut into 3-¼-inch thick slices
  • * 6 garlic cloves, unpeeled and cut in half lengthwise
  • * 6 ounces fromage blanc or fresh ricotta

To prepare the tapenade, fill a large pot two-thirds full with water, add the salt and bring to a boil. Using kitchen shears, snip off the tips of the outer leaves of the artichokes. Drizzle a little of the olive oil into the center of both artichokes and place them in the water. Return the water to a boil, cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 to 40 minutes (depending on artichoke size, variety and age) until tender.

Meanwhile, use a mortar and pestle to grind the garlic and anchovies together to form a smooth paste. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the green peppercorn, lemon zest, juice and olive oil. Set aside.

Transfer the artichokes to a colander or strainer, rinse them under cool water, drain thoroughly and let cool. Once cool enough to handle, remove the leaves and reserve them for another use. Scrape away the choke in the center of each artichoke heart. Discard the chokes and cut the hearts into small dice.

In a medium bowl, combine the diced artichoke hearts, olives, walnuts and olive oil mixture. Add the parsley and the tarragon, and several turns of black pepper. Taste and season with salt. Let rest 30 minutes before serving. Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

To make the bruschetta, grill or toast the bread on an outdoor grill, stove-top grill or in a preheated oven broiler until it is golden brown on both sides. Transfer to a platter, rub each piece of bread on one side with cut garlic and spread on some of the cheese. Top with the tapenade and serve immediately.

Published on June 24, 2010
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