The recipe for this Persian tapenade strays from the typical Provencal dish in that it adds sweet, bright pomegranate seeds and earthy walnuts to the mix. This perfectly exotic tapenade is a rhapsody of color, flavor and texture.
Middle Eastern dishes often use whole pomegranate seeds in their dishes for wonderful color, flavor and texture. In this recipe, the seeds burst their sweet-tart flavor into the creamy tapenade. For a real treat, serve it Persian-style with a plate of fresh herbs (mint, parsley, dill and scallions), a chunk of feta cheese, cucumber slices, and pita or traditional Middle Eastern flat bread.
1 cup unseasoned green lives, such as Picholines, pitted
2/3 cup toasted walnuts, finely chopped
½ cup whole pomegranate seeds
¼ cup chopped cilantro
1 clove minced garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 pita rounds, cut into triangles
1. Finely mince the olives.
2. In a bowl, combine the olives, walnuts, pomegranate seeds, cilantro, garlic and olive oil; stir to mix. Add a few drops of lemon juice and salt if necessary. The mixture may not need salt if the olives are salty.
3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Toast the pita triangles on a baking sheet until lightly colored and crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes; let cool. Serve tapenade with the pita toasts.
Makes 1 1/2 cups.
Adapted from Tassajara Cookbook, by Karla Oliveira (Gibbs Smith Publisher, 2007).