Olive Tapenade is a staple in French Apéritifs. An appetizer, or apéritif. as we call it in France, is intended to relax and prepare the body for a meal. A small nibble of something gets the digestive juices flowing rather than satisfying hunger. Therefore, appetizers should be served in small quantities to promote maximum enjoyment of a meal.
Tapenade is ideal and delicious for an apéritif and easy to make. This robust and flavorful spread is made with a base of extra virgin olive oil, fresh garlic, black or green olives, or both. Additional ingredients vary and can include sundried tomatoes, fresh herbs, capers, or lemon. Tapenade is served with thin slices of toasted bread or crackers, making it the perfect nibble before dinner - just enough to spark the appetite.
This recipe from the South of France is a base from which you can add other ingredients to your liking. While the ingredient quantities are provided in the recipe, I rarely measure and instead eyeball the amounts. Each batch is different. Sometimes I add more sundried tomatoes, sometimes none. Sometimes I use both thyme and rosemary, one or the other, or neither if I don’t have any. If you have olives, garlic, and olive oil, your tapenade will be delicious.
1 cup pitted cured black olives * See the notes below.
2-3 tbsp sundried tomatoes in oil
2 tablespoons capers
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
To prepare the tapenade, combine the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until everything is finely chopped.
Serve with toasted bread or crackers.
Olive tapenade is incredibly versatile. Feel free to experiment with different types of olives (such as green or Niçoise). When using green olives, I particularly like the addition of lemon juice and lemon zest. To make this variation, add the zest of one lemon to about a cup of olives and one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and taste. Add more lemon juice as you like.
Use cured olives for tapenade and not canned black olives. Cured black olives are known for their superior taste and quality. They tend to have a more intense flavor than canned black olives and can be used to add depth and richness to dishes. Canned black olives have a more one-dimensional flavor and may not be of high quality.
According to this article in National Geographic, “Black olives, though labeled as ‘ripe’ on supermarket cans, actually aren’t: these, a California invention, are green olives that have been cured in an alkaline solution, and then treated with oxygen and an iron compound (ferrous gluconate) that turns their skins a shiny patent-leather black. Ferrous gluconate [is used] to stabilize color.”
You can find cured olives at an olive bar at many supermarkets, but I find these Barral brand olives in a jar are top-notch with an unparalleled taste.
You may also be interested in the following easy appetizer ideas:
I provide links to products and services I genuinely love and want to share with you. Some of these links may earn me a referral commission at no additional cost to you. This referral fee helps support this site. Thank you for your support!
"Finding you [has] truly inspired me to cook more and focus on quality ingredients. Strengthening my kitchen intuition has been key, it's how I know to roll leftovers into something new or I can see what I bought and come up with creative solutions.
As a family, we always valued sitting down together for dinner but now it's done with so much less stress. I can be done with work and still make easy meals . . . amazing quality meals that are thrown together in a short time and we get to enjoy each other!"
“Your suggestions are so priceless! Thank you for such valuable content. My family is closer than ever, thanks to you!”
BRAVO! I'm in!
“[Caterina is], in 5 steps, hitting all the major points of what works in generational connection across all cultures. Families don’t just happen, they are grown and this is the sweet and lasting way to do that. Bravo and I’m IN!”
A Real Game Changer
"We have made a lot of progress over here under your care. We are now all eating from the same “pot” which I was surprised how much my kids loved. They were so excited when I put the food in the middle of the table. They asked for it the next day, Can we do that special fancy dinner thing where we have a feast? It really is such a better ritual—passing the food around and all sharing from the same platter, a real game changer."
Accidental Weight Loss!
“I don't know if I told you, but I accidentally lost about 8 lbs after cutting out most semi-processed foods!"