In 1492, when King Boabdil of Granada, the last of the Nasrid rulers, was ousted by the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he fled south, stopping briefly in the Valle de Lecrín, before fleeing to Fez. Fed by the waters from the Sierra Nevada that dominate the skyline, the Lecrín Valley is rich in citrus, olive and almond groves. This tapenade combines all three flavours in equal balance, and so I think of it as a homage to this truly beautiful part of the world.
Butterbean hummus is a misnomer. Hummus actually just means chickpeas in Arabic and, since there are no chickpeas in the recipe here, the real name of this dip in Arabic, the predominant language of the Levantine where it was invented probably many millennia ago, ought to be ful bi tahina. That aside, and given that for many of us ‘hummus’ has come to denote that earthy, moreish dip that satisfies a deep hole in the gut, it is good to know that there can be numerous variations on the theme. Butterbeans lend themselves very well to this, resulting in a slightly more silky hummus that slides lightly down the gullet.
Go to the medina in any town in Morocco and make your way to the souk. There you will find the most amazing colours and scents, among them conical piles of brightly coloured spices — paprika, ras al hanout, cumin, coriander… And the most amazing array of olives, green, black, small, large, some whole and others stuffed. This tapenade pays homage to the Moroccan souk, combining three quintessential flavours: those of olive, coriander and lemon.