Olive Tapenade is an easy accompaniment that works well as an appetizer or cheese board component, or as a side to main entree meats like roast chicken.
Tapenade is so, so under appreciated, if you ask me.
Not only is tapenade really flavorful and delicious, but it takes just 5-10 minutes to prepare, keeps well, and is very flexible in accommodating different types of olives and ingredients as you like.
Truthfully, much of the time I use it as a “dinner cheat” on tired nights, when I’ll make a simple roasted chicken and a simple side, and mix together this punchy tapenade as a way to give everything lots of flavor.
It never gets old for us.
No joke, sometimes my husband eats this tapenade with a spoon because he loves it so much, proclaiming each time “that’s so good.”
How to Make Tapenade:
Tapenade is simple, and its deliciousness depends quite a bit on the quality of the ingredients you use, so keep that in mind.
This is not the time where I use the cheap olives that come in a can.
For this recipe, you need quality olives, parsley, extra virgin olive oil, fresh garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes:
You may use whatever type of quality olive you prefer, but I do recommend using at least some Castelvetrano Olives, which I have recently become obsessed with.
They used to be hard to find in the US, but now I see a couple of different brands carrying them at the grocery.
I like to pair them with some lecino olives as well, but I’ve done castelvetrano-only versions of tapenade and it’s fantastic.
Other olives I enjoy are kalamatas and Nicoise, but it can be fun to take a trip to the olive bar, try a bunch, and see what your personal favorites are.
How to Pit Olives for Tapenade: A lot of olives aren’t available pitted (including castelvetranos), but olives are easy to pit yourself.
I previously used this cherry and olive pitter tool (affiliate), but never found it easy to use.
What I like to do instead is give each olive a whack with a meat hammer (affiliate), and the pits come right out.
Place all the ingredients into a food processor, making sure to chop the garlic first:
This gives the garlic a head start in breaking down.
You only want to pulse and chop a few times, until the olive pieces are small, but not completely pureed:
It ultimately is personal preference, but I love having a coarser texture.
The tapenade is now ready to enjoy, and there are quite a few ways to use it.
- Spread on toasted baguette and serve as an appetizer
- Include the tapenade on a cheese board
- Stir into hummus and serve with pita
- Spread on sandwiches or paninis, like Eggplant Parmesan Sandwiches
- Add to various pasta salads, like Caprese Pasta Salad
- Serve with crackers as a bar snack paired with wine
- Eat it with simple roasted meats like chicken or pork tenderloin. We love it with Spatchcock Chicken and Parmesan Crusted Chicken
- 1 cup castelvetrano olives pitted
- 1/2 cup lecino olives pitted
- 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh Italian parsley leaves
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (high-quality)
- 1 large garlic clove minced
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- Place all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until well chopped, but not pureed.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.