Classic Olive Tapenade


I love olives, and so I love tapenades. Tapenades have such a distinct flavor. They’re also very simple to make, simple as in, throw it all in the food processor and press start.

ingredients in food processor


olive tapenade in the food processor

The key to a good olive tapenade is the olives. Don’t buy cans of black olives or jars of green olives if you can avoid it. Instead go to a cheese & wine shop, or to an olive bar at the grocery store, and pick out a delightful mixture of pitted olives for this. I chose pitted kalamatas, pitted green olives stuffed with garlic, and a number of other ones. 1/2lb (equivalent to 8oz) of olives cost me about $5.00.

You can serve a tapenade in so many ways. Just yesterday we had family over and I spread goat cheese on a cracker, topped with a dollop of tapenade, and sprinkled on almonds. Today I did this:

olive tapenade appetizer 

Yes, that is a mini slice of fresh mozzarella on there. A tip for cutting mozzarella, big or small – use your egg slicer. 

slicing mozarella

olive tapenade on cracker

Enjoy your fresh olive tapenade!

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Easy Olive Tapenade
Delicious, classic olive tapenade.
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  1. Ingredients
  2. 1/2 pound pitted mixed olives (not jar or canned, buy at olive bar/speciality shop)
  3. 2 anchovy fillets, rinsed
  4. 1 clove garlic, minced
  5. 2 tablespoons capers
  6. 3 fresh basil leaves
  7. 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  8. 1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Process to combine until the mixture becomes a coarse paste, approximately 1 to 2 minutes total. Use as desired!
  1. If your olives come drenched in oil, you will probably not need to add the full 2 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil. Add 1 Tbsp to start, see if it is a good consistency, and add more if you need. Thicker tapenade is good for dalloping (less olive oil), and thinner tapenade is good for spreading (more olive oil).
  2. Careful with amendments and substitutions for this type of recipe. For example: if you decide not to use anchovies because you don't like them, then you substitute light olive oil for the extra-virgin, and decide upon bottled lemon juice instead of fresh, well, you've just threatened the integrity of the recipe. Not intending to to be harsh! But you can see how a number of subtle changes to a recipe can alter it with negative results.
Adapted from Alton Brown
Adapted from Alton Brown
Kara the Cook

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