Black olive tapenade

Black olive tapenade

My fiancé has told me that I have to explain what black olive tapenade is, because, in his own words, ‘he’s uncultured and doesn’t have a clue what it is’. He also thought it was pronounced ‘tape-nade’… it’s not. It’s ‘tap-uh-naad’. Please don’t call it tape-nade in public unless you want some funny looks. If you, like him, don’t know what it is, the best way I could find to describe it was ‘a bit like pesto, but not really like pesto at all’. As in, it has completely different ingredients, but it’s essentially a similar thing – a paste made from several ingredients that you can use in lots of different ways.

Perhaps tapenade is a little ugly, but we’ve established many times that ugly food is usually delicious (like my white bean pâté with black olives and sun-dried tomatoes – what is it with olives making everything ugly?!). Let’s not dwell on how it looks. Instead let’s talk about how it tastes, which is all we really care about right? And this tapenade tastes amazing. Garlicky and tangy, it’s ridiculously full of flavour.

Black olive tapenade

I had this slathered (very) liberally on some warm, crusty bread with grilled halloumi cheese. I made such a mess, tapenade spilling everywhere, it was great. And I know, I’m ridiculously predictable for serving this with cheese (I’ll come up with a cheeseless recipe soon, I swear!), but despite the fact that the tapenade itself is vegan, it goes really well with dairy, since it provides a nice contrast to the tangy acidity of the tapenade.

If you’re not a halloumi fan (what?) there are lots of other ways to use tapenade: stirred through pasta, dolloped into your soup, spread on toast, mixed through a risotto… this recipe makes around a cup, so there’s even scope for trying out more than one of these ideas! I’d love to hear your ideas if you have any others – I have about half of this recipe left for dinner tonight so I’m open to suggestions!

Black olive tapenade

Although the garlic is a major part of what makes this tapenade (and, really, most things that include garlic) amazing, remember that it’s raw – so don’t be tempted to go overboard! One small-medium clove is enough for the whole recipe. You might also want to avoid making this before any important events – first dates, business meetings, or your wedding, to name but a few. Any other occasion, go for it! It’s worth it, I promise.

Black olive tapenade
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: Miscellaneous
Yield: 1 cup
  • 1 medium clove garlic
  • 2tbsp capers
  • 100g black olives
  • 2tbsp fresh parsley
  • 1tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor, and blitz until a paste is formed (I like to keep mine fairly coarse). Season to taste.
  2. Serve on bread or toast, with pasta, in soup, or however else you fancy it.

Black olive tapenade


  1. says

    I remember ordering this when out with some friends and how each of them had their own opinion on what the tapenade resembled. Once we got that out of our system we raced to finish the dish, with a few people using fingers to get every last drop out of the container. Gotta love delicious, yet “ugly”, foods!
    Amanda E recently posted…I LoveMy Profile

  2. Bridget says

    I actually just had the most delicious salad on vacation. Some lettuce, diced tomatoes, very tasty feta cheese, topped with a flavor busting tapenade and drizzled with olive oil. It was SO good!

  3. Caz Bell says

    Just made this… Puff pastry tartlets spread with the tapenade paste, topped with lightly roasted cherry tomatoes and slices of Camembert. Served it drizzled with red current jelly…Mmmmmm

  4. says

    Finger lickin’ is absolutely the way to describe this recipe. I catered a wedding and put cream cheese on toast points topped with thin slices of cucumber, a dollop of tampenade, and a spot of sour cream. Everyone thought it was caviar at first but said it was better than the caviar and amazing! They were the first food to dissappear! Thanks for the recipe it will definately be a repeat for me!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge