What Is Black Olive Tapenade?


Tapenade, a Mediterranean olive-based spread, is relatively easy to make and a tasteful, elegant addition to a plate of hors d'oeuvres or appetizers. It also pairs well with a variety of wines.

Main Ingredient

  • Tapenade is made primarily with pitted black olives. Though many kinds will do, the niçoise, kalamata or gaeta varieties are particularly well suited to tapenade. Canned black olives in brine are not recommended.

Other Ingredients

  • In addition to olives, most tapenade recipes also include finely minced garlic and capers. Some recipes substitute the capers for less piquant pine nuts. These ingredients are combined with olive oil and processed with the olives into a thick paste.


  • The distinct flavor of anchovy is common in Mediterranean cuisine, but not always appreciated by every palate. Tapenade recipes variously call for fresh anchovy filets or anchovy paste, but this ingredient can be omitted altogether.


  • Oregano, thyme, parsley and basil are frequently included in tapenade to refine the taste. Salt and black pepper are also added. When used, herbs are mixed into the base ingredients. Lemon juice is also sometimes added for tanginess.


  • As a spread, tapenade can be used in a multitude of ways. Common service is on crackers or squares of cheese. Tapenade also makes an elegant topping for crostini (baked bread) with goat or parmesan cheese.

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  • Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Krista
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