Olive Tapenade is a delicious spread to serve with crostini or crackers. It's perfect for an easy and tasty appetizer to serve on a cozy weekend dinner.
Follow our olive tapenade recipe to make this classic French spread in 5 minutes with a few simple ingredients in a food processor.
Check out our best vegan sauce recipes.
Tapenade is a traditional spread from the Provence region in Southern France made with puréed, finely chopped, or blended olives, capers, olive oil, and sometimes anchovies.
The most common way to enjoy tapenade is as a starter or aperitif on toasted crostini or with vegetable sticks. However, you can use it as a spread in a sandwich or a sauce for a quick pasta dish. Think of it as an olive pesto with a distinct salty flavor.
Despite olive being the main ingredient, tapenade comes from the Provencal word "Tapeneī," which means capers. Capers are a key ingredient and add a salty and acidic flavor to this recipe. They should, however, be used in moderation as their taste is sharp.
You can make tapenade with black olives, green olives, or a mix. Here we make the most classic version with black olives.
In most traditional recipes, olive tapenade is made with a pestle in a mortar, crushing all the ingredients patiently until they turn into a coarse puree. Other recipes make it with a chef's knife, chopping the ingredients finely and mixing them with the oil.
We are making it with a food processor, pulsing the ingredients together without over-blending the olives. A food processor allows you to make a delicious tapenade in less than 5 minutes. Let's see how to make it!
Ps. Don't forget to make our crostini recipe to go with this olive tapenade. They are the perfect match.
The best olives for tapenade are those produced in the south of France (Niçoise olives), which can be hard to find.
You can safely use regular black pitted olives for this recipe. If you want to make it a little more gourmet, then opt for Italian Taggiasche Olives, which grow in the same region as French olives.
Another good option for a black olive tapenade is Kalamata Olives. To make a green olive tapenade, we recommend Castelvetrano olives, a Sicilian olive variety perfect for this recipe.
Capers are non-negotiable in this recipe. You can use capers in vinegar, olive oil, or salt (washing off the salt before blending them). The rule of thumb is one heaping teaspoon of chopped capers or 2 teaspoons of whole capers per one cup (130 grams) of pitted olives.
Use extra virgin olive oil if you can. Low-quality olive oil will make your tapenade bitter and too sharp. A good quality extra virgin olive oil adds sweet and fruity notes that round off the intense flavor of the olives and capers.
Garlic is optional, and often the French don't add it in. If you like to add garlic, do so in moderation. We add very little, about ¼ of a clove.
We noticed that adding more garlic cloves makes this condiment harder to digest and too sharp.
Parsley is optional and rarely found in original French tapenade. However, we like to add a small quantity of flat-leaf parsley to brighten up this recipe.
Lemon juice is optional and not present in the original recipe. We like adding a dash of freshly squeezed lemon juice to lighten the tapenade. For lemon lovers, feel free to add a tiny bit of lemon zest.
If lemon is too sharp for you, try making a variation with a touch of grated orange zest.
Salt and pepper
Salt and black pepper are both optional. Adding them depends on how salty your capers and olives are. Have a taste before adding any salt or pepper.
We don't add anchovies fillets as they are optional. We prefer to keep this dish vegan as it's already delicious without anchovies.
As a first step, rinse and dry your capers. Next, if your olives are not pitted, remove the flesh from the pit.
Add the pitted black olives, capers, garlic, flat-leaf parsley, and lemon juice to a food processor.
Pulse a few times until you have a coarse olive purée, stopping to scrape down the sides of the food processor.
Next, add the olive oil, starting with two tablespoons and up to four tablespoons at the most. Depending on your olives, you might need to add more or less oil.
Pulse a few more times until you reach your desired consistency, stopping once or twice to scrape down the edges. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.
Your olive tapenade is ready when it has a coarse purée texture that is easy to spread.
You can use olive tapenade like you would use pesto in most cases. The most common way of eating it is as an appetizer or aperitif, on slices of toasted bread, like our crunchy crostini. Make a platter with different crostini toppings for a special dinner.
Another delicious way of eating olive tapenade is as a sandwich spread, for instance, with grilled zucchini or roasted vegetables.
In general, you can use it to boost the flavor of most grilled or baked vegetables, as we do in the picture below with roasted cherry tomatoes and grilled mushrooms.
You can also use it as a dip for raw vegetable sticks or a condiment for pasta salad, rice salad, or barley salad.
We also love it on top of our vegan frittata or vegan fish; just a tiny dollop of it is enough to make their flavor pop.
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Store leftover tapenade in an airtight container (we recommend a mason jar) in the fridge for up to one week. You can serve it cold straight from the refrigerator.
You can also freeze tapenade in a small jar for up to 3 months. Then, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator.
- Food processor
- 1 heaping cup pitted black olives
- 2 teaspoons capers
- 2 - 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ clove garlic
- ¼ cup flat-leaf parsley optional
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice optional
- 2 twists black pepper optional
- As a first step, rinse and dry your capers. Next, if your olives are not pitted, remove the flesh from the pit.Add the pitted black olives, capers, garlic, flat-leaf parsley, and lemon juice to a food processor.
- Pulse a few times until you have a coarse olive purée, stopping to scrape down the sides of the food processor.Next, add the olive oil, starting with two tablespoons and up to four tablespoons at the most. Depending on your olives, you might need to add more or less oil.
- Pulse a few more times until you reach your desired consistency, stopping once or twice to scrape down the edges. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.Your olive tapenade is ready when it has a coarse purée texture that is easy to spread.
- Serve on top of crostini or crackers for a crunchy and tasty appetizer. See more serving suggestions in the dedicated chapter above the recipe box.
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