What is tapenade?
u003cstrongu003eTapenade u003c/strongu003eis the French Provençal name for a versatile olive-based spread and condiment you can whip up in minutes with a few pantry ingredients that are finely chopped or pureéd into a spreadable paste.
The term “tapenade” is from the French Provençal word “tapéno,” which means “caper.” It’s believed to be linked with the Latin word “tāpa,” which refers to the caper bush or the small flower buds picked before blossoming into flowers.
Key Ingredients in Olive Tapenade
Understanding Ingredient Ratios in Tapenade
Before jumping into the recipe, you should know that there is no perfect tapenade recipe and that there are as many recipes as varieties of olives.
Below are the suggested ratios for the main ingredients which form the foundation of this condiment. Consider them as more of a starting point, not a hard-and-fast rule. Feel free to play around and tweak these ratios to suit your taste buds.
- 70% to 80% olives
- 3% to 5% capers
- 1% to 2% anchovies
- 1-2% garlic cloves
- 10 to 20% olive oil: Adding the olive oil gradually allows you to control the texture and achieve the preferred thickness and consistency.
Yes, I know the ratios don’t add up to 100%, and that’s because these ratios are a starting point, not the rule. You can easily adjust them based on your preference.
Tips for controlling the saltiness
The first time I made tapenade, it came out too salty and thin because the olives, capers, and anchovies that are brined in salt to preserve them have different levels of saltiness and water content depending on the type used.
If you want to control the saltiness and prevent your tapenade from becoming overwhelming salty, you have a few options.
- Adjust the other salty ingredients in your recipe by using fewer capers and anchovy fillets, which are usually brined in salt.
- Rinse the olives and soak them in water for 30 minutes to a few hours, which will desalt them by leaching the salt out of them slowly.
- Rinse all the salty brined ingredients.
How to fix tapenade that is too salty
If you’ve already made your tapenade, and it’s too salty, you can still save.
All you have to do is add more olives which you have drained, rinsed and soaked in fresh cold water for about an hour to leach out the salt.
Then chop or purée the olives and mix them into the tapenade to balance it out.
Controlling the thickness and texture
You also don’t want your tapenade to be too runny or dry.
I suggest adding a little less olive oil to start, and if it’s too dry, add more olive oil as needed until you get the texture you want.
Mixing by hand or machine
You can purée all the ingredients in a blender or food processor to make a smooth, spreadable paste or a chunkier one by pulsing less.
You can also chop everything with a knife until you get the texture you like.
And finally, you can also slowly crush and mash all the ingredients together in a mortar and pestle. In the past, this is how tapenade was commonly made. Some people belive that this is more gentle compared to chopping with a knife or blending with a mixer. The flavours gradually meld together more evenly without altering or damaging them through excessive heat or rapid chopping.
Are there different types of tapenade?
There are many variations of tapenade that include additional ingredients beyond the traditional olives, capers, anchovies, olive oil, and garlic.
Some of these variations include:
- Sun-Dried Tomato Tapenade:
- Roasted Red Pepper Tapenade:
- Artichoke Tapenade:
- Nut or Seed-based Tapenade: Almonds, walnuts, pine nuts etc.
- Herb-infused Tapenade: Includes additional herbs like thyme, basil, rosemary, or oregano.
- Spicy Tapenade: Chili peppers, red pepper flakes, or hot sauces to add heat and a fiery kick to the tapenade.
Customizing your tapenade recipe
You can customize your recipe any way you like, but you should keep a few things in mind.
- If you want to add an ingredient like basil, just remember you don’t need to add much.
- If you add another liquid, such as mustard, be sure to adjust the amount of olive oil so it doesn’t come out too runny.
Here are some optional ingredients you can add to create a unique recipe based on your preferences.
- Herbes de Provence
- Pine nuts
- Chili pepper
- Sun-dried tomatoes
Can I make a vegan tapenade?
Making a vegan version of this olive-based spread is easy. Simply omit the anchovies, or if you like, you can replace the umami flavour of anchovies with vegan-friendly ingredients such as
What can I use tapenade for?
Whether black or green, Tapenade is incredibly versatile and can be used in various ways, from a dip or spread to a condiment or ingredient in recipes.u003cbru003eu003cstrongu003eHere are a few examplesu003c/strongu003e:
- As a spread for bread during apéro hour while sipping on pre-dinner aperitif drinks
- Spread some on “canapés” like you would bruschetta for a cocktail party.
- Add a little chopped tomatoes to make a tapenade bruschetta.
- Glam up your sandwich or elevate your burger with a dab of tapenade.
- Toss some with pasta for something similar to an Italian puttanesca sauce.
- Use some as a filling or topping for an omelette.
- Add a dollop as a topping for fish and chicken dishes to give it a kick.
- Spread a little onto homemade pizza.
- Use it as a salad dressing, or add it to your Caesar salad instead of anchovies.
How long does tapenade last in the
Once you’ve made your tapenade, you may be wondering how long it will last.
Homemade tapenade can generally be stored in the
Another trick to extend the shelf life of a tapenade for a few months is to cover the surface of the tapenade with a thin layer of olive oil before placing it back in the
This will help preserve the freshness and prevent oxidation.
Good luck and bon appétit!