Tapenade is a versatile spread with a Mediterranean flavor – Orange County Register

Green and Black Tapenade served with rustic bread. (Photo by Katie Thomas)

Tapenade, a Provençal-style olive spread, is a dish that successfully captures the sunny flavors of the Mediterranean. It’s quick and easy to make at home, especially if you have a food processor and use pre-ground olives.

There are many variations, but the basic ingredients are pretty consistent: olives, capers, garlic, olive oil, and anchovies. Some cooks like to add fresh herbs like thyme leaves, rosemary, Italian parsley or basil. Others add a little liqueur or chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Citrus juice and flavor are other variables. Maybe a pinch of dried red pepper flakes or a dollop of Dijon mustard.

There is an olive in the heart. I like to use both kalamata olives and mild green olives, along with capers, garlic, anchovies, fresh thyme and extra virgin olive oil. Green olives—the not-so-green variety infused with sour Spanish pimento—make a beautiful garnish for a martini; they contain ingredients like calcium chloride, which keep them crisp but make them taste sour.

A food processor will do the job in a minute or two. For a simple appetizer, serve it with thin slices of toasted and halved rustic bread or crackers. Or pair it with some crispy fried, thinly sliced ​​crostini.

Green and black ribbon

Yield: Makes 1 1/2 cups


3 medium cloves of garlic, peeled

2 tablespoons dried capers

4 anchovy fillets

A sprig of fresh thyme leaves

1 cup pitted black olives, preferably kalamata

1 1/4 cups pitted soft green olives, see cook’s notes

4 tablespoons of pure olive oil

To serve as dessert: thinly sliced ​​rustic bread, crackers, or crostini (see cook’s notes)

Cook notes: I often use Castelvetrano green olives; they are full and buttery in taste. They are sold in jars in most supermarkets; the most common brand is Mezzatta. For the Crostini: Using a sliced ​​baguette, spread extra virgin olive oil on both sides of each bread slice. Arrange the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in a 350 degree oven until lightly browned. Turn on the oven light and keep an eye on them, as the toasting time will vary depending on the freshness of the bread and the thickness of the slices.


1. With the food processor running, place the garlic in the feed tube to mince it. Add capers, anchovies and fresh thyme leaves; process until crumbly, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

2. Add olives and olive oil; pulse on and off until the olives are finely chopped but not pureed.

Cooking question? Contact Cathy Thomas at [email protected]