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Authentic Italian Olive Tapenade: A Taste of the Mediterranean

Experience the true essence of Italian flavors with our exquisite Olive Tapenade recipe. Perfect for appetizers, sandwiches, and pasta dishes!

August 7, 2023
Italian Olive TapenadePhoto By Canva
Difficulty Easy
Servings 4 people
Preparation 10 mins
Cooking 0 mins
Total 10 mins



  1. Start by ensuring all ingredients, especially the olives and capers, are well-drained. Roughly chop the Kalamata and green olives.
  2. In a food processor, combine the Kalamata olives, green olives, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, capers, lemon juice, parsley, oregano, and red pepper flakes (if using). Pulse until the ingredients are finely chopped but not completely puréed. It should have a chunky texture.
  3. With the food processor running on low, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Continue to pulse until the tapenade reaches your desired consistency.
  4. Taste the tapenade and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed. Remember, the olives and capers bring saltiness to the mix, so add salt gradually.
  5. Transfer the tapenade to a serving bowl. It can be served immediately, but for enhanced flavor, consider covering it and letting it sit in the refrigerator for an hour or two before serving. This allows the flavors to meld beautifully.
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 Italian Olive Tapenade
Serves 4
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 7 g9%
Sodium 210 mg9.1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.


  • Olives: Opt for high-quality olives as they're the main ingredient. Consider visiting an olive bar at a local upscale grocery store to select your olives.
  • Oil: If you're a fan of a richer flavor, consider using a bit of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes instead of extra virgin olive oil.
  • Consistency: Depending on your preference, you can make your tapenade chunkier or smoother. Adjust the pulsing time in the food processor accordingly.
  • Acidity: A splash of lemon juice or red wine vinegar adds a tangy note that balances the richness of the olives.
  • Customize to Taste: Adjust the ingredients and proportions according to your taste preferences. Add a touch of red pepper flakes for heat, or include sun-dried tomatoes for a sweeter note.
  • Storing: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The tapenade often tastes better the next day when the flavors have had time to meld.
  • Serving Ideas: Besides the traditional serving methods, try mixing the tapenade into pasta or using it as a filling for roasted chicken breasts.
  • Make Ahead: Tapenade often tastes even better when allowed to sit and develop flavors. Prepare it a day in advance and store it in the refrigerator.
  • Serve at Room Temperature: Before serving, allow the tapenade to come to room temperature. This enhances its flavors and makes it more spreadable.
  • Garnish: Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of fresh herbs before serving to enhance the visual appeal.
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Embark on a culinary journey to Italy with this delectable Olive Tapenade. Bursting with rich flavors of olives, capers, and sun-dried tomatoes, this recipe captures the heart and soul of the Mediterranean. Perfect as a spread, dip, or garnish, the versatility of this tapenade will elevate your dishes to gourmet status. Let's explore the steps to bring this Italian classic to your table!

What Is Olive Tapenade Made Of?

Olive tapenade is a savory spread made primarily from olives. The basic ingredients in traditional olive tapenade are:

Olives: Typically, black or green olives are used, but a mix can also be employed.

Capers: These add a tangy flavor to the mix.

Anchovies: These are optional and can be omitted for a vegetarian or vegan version, but they add a salty and umami depth to the tapenade.

Garlic: A clove or two gives a sharpness and depth.

Lemon Juice: This adds a touch of acidity to balance out the flavors.

Olive Oil: Helps in achieving the desired consistency and adds richness.

Fresh Herbs: Typically, herbs like thyme or rosemary might be added, but parsley is also a common choice.

Salt and Pepper: To taste.

All these ingredients are finely chopped or processed in a food processor until they reach the desired consistency, which can range from coarsely chopped to a smooth paste. Some variations might include ingredients like mustard, sun-dried tomatoes, or even a splash of cognac.

What Do You Eat Tapenade With?

Tapenade is a versatile spread with a rich and tangy flavor, making it an excellent complement to many dishes and snacks. Here are some popular ways to enjoy tapenade:

Bread & Crackers: Probably the most classic way to enjoy tapenade is spread on slices of fresh baguette, toast, or various types of crackers. It can also be served as part of a bruschetta topping with diced tomatoes and basil.

Sandwiches & Wraps: Add tapenade as a spread to elevate the flavor of sandwiches and wraps. It pairs well with turkey, chicken, fresh vegetables, and cheeses.

Pasta: Stir tapenade into freshly cooked pasta along with some olive oil or melted butter for a simple and flavorful dish. You can also add grilled chicken, shrimp, or vegetables.

Grilled Meats & Fish: Tapenade can be used as a topping for grilled or pan-seared meats, especially lamb, chicken, or fish like salmon and cod.

Eggs: Mix tapenade into scrambled eggs, spread it on a frittata, or add it atop a sunny-side-up egg on toast.

Pizza & Flatbreads: Spread a thin layer of tapenade on pizza dough or flatbreads before adding your other toppings.

Salads: Add a dollop of tapenade to salads, especially Mediterranean-inspired ones with feta cheese, tomatoes, and cucumbers.

Stuffed Vegetables: Use tapenade as a filling for stuffed bell peppers, tomatoes, or mushrooms.

With Cheese: Tapenade pairs well with various cheeses. Serve it alongside a cheese platter with varieties like goat cheese, brie, or feta.

The Legacy of Olive Tapenade

The term "tapenade" originates from the Provençal word "tapéno," meaning caper. Traditionally, this spread hails from the regions of Provence in France. The olive tapenade recipe has been enjoyed for centuries, ever since the Roman times, when it was considered a luxurious appetizer. Olives have always played an integral role in Mediterranean cuisine, particularly in Italy and France, where they're revered not only for their oil but also for spreads like tapenade.

Variations Across Regions

While many are familiar with the black olive tapenade because of its rich and robust flavor, the green olive tapenade offers a slightly tangier, zestier palate. The choice between black and green olives often boils down to personal preference. Some recipes even combine both to achieve a balanced flavor profile. Different regions have their unique spins. For instance, while an Italian olive tapenade recipe might incorporate sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts, the French version often emphasizes capers and occasionally anchovies.

Modern Takes on a Classic

In today's globalized world, tapenade has found its way onto supermarket shelves, and brands like Trader Joe's olive tapenade have made it accessible to everyone. However, nothing quite compares to making it fresh at home, adjusting the flavors to personal taste. Authentic, homemade tapenade carries the essence of Mediterranean sun, sea, and the simplicity of its cuisine. Whether you’re following an old family recipe or trying a new variation, this spread is bound to delight your taste buds.

Recipe byPetite Gourmets

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