Olive Tapenade is a hearty dip or spread made from good quality Kalamata or Niçose black olives. They are crushed to a semi-smooth pulp together with salty anchovies and capers, fresh garlic and aromatic fresh basil and parsley. Extra-virgin olive oil is added to create a spreadable consistency.
Where did tapenade originate from?
Tapenade is a Provencal name for an olive spread, originating from the Provencal word for capers “tapanas”, the second most important ingredient in an authentic tapenade. This popular Provencal dish, from Marseille, to be precise, is the equivalent of an Italian pesto for its diversity in cooking.
How is tapenade eaten?
This tapenade is a good essential to have on standby as a spread, pizza topping, pasta ingredient, vegetable filling and meat or fish condiment. I’ve even added them to egg dishes like frittata and scrambled eggs. Putting a few dollops of tapenade in mayonnaise or sour cream will liven up this condiment for salads and potato dishes.
Included in the recipe card are instructions to make Tapenade Cherry Tomato Bites, a vegetable appetiser using halved cherry tomatoes filled with tapenade.
Basically, there is nothing short of flavour in tapenade and its addition to many dishes give a welcome lift.
Getting to know olive tapenade
I learnt how to make this traditional tapenade at a cooking school in Provence during a road trip with some friends in 2015. After driving several hours up and down small mountains, my friends and I enjoyed half the day in a Provence kitchen and the other half, alfresco in the cook’s garden overlooking Provence. It was picture-perfect and so rewarding to learn how to make this speciality perfectly and most of all, authentically.
About the ingredients
How much olive oil should be added?
The amount of olive oil added will depend on the type of black olives used as some varieties are oilier than others. As the olives are crushed in the blender, the natural oils are released. You will need to eye-ball the amount of oil needed.
What are the best black olives to use for tapenade?
I would highly recommend two types of olives for the perfect tapenade:
- Traditionally, Niçose olives are used in Provence for tapenade. These olives are grown on a tree called “Le Calletier” and are big in flavour, plus super juicy and perfect for tapenade.
- Kalamata olives from Greece, the King of Greek Olives, work well to make this tapenade as they have a slightly fruity, richer taste than ordinary black olives.
How can I substitute the anchovies?
Despite anchovies being overly powerful in flavour, the addition of just two anchovies to this recipe adds more of an umami flavour rather than a “fishy” flavour. Adding a couple of teaspoons of anchovy paste is a great substitute if you can’t justify buying a full jar of anchovies. If you rather substitute anchovies for taste or vegetarian reasons, I would recommend adding a teaspoon of white miso paste or 4 semi-dried tomatoes to achieve the same umami hit.
Which Fun Without Gluten recipes would pair up nicely with tapenade?
Olive Tapenade & Tapenade Cherry Tomato Bites
- Sterilised glass jar/s
- 200 g black olives, pitted
- 2 tsp capers
- 2 anchovy fillets
- 2 tbsp fresh basil leaves, torn
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley leaves, roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, whole
- 20-30 ml extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- ½ tsp chilli flakes (optional)
TAPENADE CHERRY TOMATO BITES
- 20 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 10 fresh parsley leaves, stems removed, to garnish
- 10 fresh baby basil leaves, to garnish
- 20 tsp olive tapenade
- Gather and measure all the olive tapenade ingredients.
- Check the olives for any stray pits and place them in a food processor together with all the listed ingredients, except for the olive oil.
- Process the tapenade ingredients into a semi-smooth pulp. Add the olive oil gradually until the tapenade is a paste with a spreading consistency. The amount of olive oil added will depend on the type of black olives used as some are oiler than others.
- Transfer the mixture to a sterilised glass jar or a small serving bowl if using the olive tapenade immediately.
TAPENADE CHERRY TOMATO BITES
- Slice the tomatoes in half and scoop out the centre using a serrated knife or scooper. Discard the tomato flesh and seeds.
- Fill each tomato cavity with a teaspoon of the homemade olive tapenade dip
- Place the tomatoes on a serving plate and garnish the tops of each tomato alternatively with a fresh parsley leaf or a fresh basil leaf. Serve immediately or cover and chill for later.
- The olive tapenade keeps for one week chilled
- Not suitable to freeze
- The tapenade cherry tomatoes are best eaten on the same day
To make this tapenade vegan or vegetarian, substitute the anchovies for 4 semi-dried tomatoes.
To make an easy side dish, serve some mozzarella slices with tapenade on top.