This post may contain affiliate links.
Bright, zesty, buttery Green Olive Tapenade is not just for piling onto crusty bread and crispy crostini (though you should do that too). It’s that magic finishing touch for everything from fish and chicken to sandwiches and pasta.
Tapenade is the fastest and easiest way to add a quintessential Mediterranean element to any meal. And when I say quick and easy, I mean it - making tapenade takes less than 10 minutes with a food processor.
Ingredients You Need to Make Green Olive Tapenade
- Castelvetrano Olives: or other pitted green olive
- Capers: non-pareil capers for the best texture and flavor
- Olive Oil: good, extra-virgin olive oil
- Lemon: juice and zest
- Fresh Parsley: flat leaf parsley (Italian parsley)
- Garlic: fresh garlic
- Anchovy Fillet: one or more good quality anchovy fillets, ideally packed in olive oil
- Black Pepper: freshly ground black pepper
What is Tapenade?
Tapenade is a classic French/Italian appetizer and the very essence of Mediterranean flavors, a savory, earthy olive spread with tangy and herbaceous hints. It's an olive-based mixture of finely chopped olives and capers, olive oil, fresh garlic, lemon juice and zest with anchovy fillets for a hint of umami.
Green olives deliver a brighter, more vibrant flavor than the traditional black olives. I use Castelvetrano olives, but use your favorite!
Tapenade can do it all. It’s a dip, a spread and a seasoning. Use it to make a tangy and complexly flavored vinaigrette, swirl it into a soup, toss it with pasta, or spoon it over seared or grilled fish or chicken or even over a thick steak. It's that 'something' that can take a dish from ordinary to exceptional.
The only thing tapenade and bruschetta have in common is that they’re both delicious. Bruschetta is a slice of toasted bread rubbed with garlic, and seasoned with olive oil and salt then topped with endless variations of vegetables, beans, cheeses and cured meats. Sometimes the topping is tapenade, but the most common topping is diced fresh tomatoes and basil.
The short answer is that tapenade has roots in both nations. Tapenade is a French term (from the Provençal word for capers, tapenas), and the spread is typically found in the Provence region in the south of France. Still, olives and capers are common in the Mediterranean basin, and a recipe for something similar to tapenade can be found in a Roman cookbook by Cato the Elder written thousands of years ago. And today you can find Italian versions of tapenade all around the country’s southern regions.
You can enjoy tapenade immediately after making it, but refrigerating it for an hour or more before serving allows the flavors to meld. Keep it refrigerated and enjoy it for up to a week.
- Lavosh Crackers
- Almond Flour Crackers
- as a topping for Grilled Swordfish or Grilled Cauliflower Steaks
More Amazing Mediterranean Appetizers
How to Make Green Olive Tapenade
Combine all of the tapenade ingredients (except for black pepper) in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to finely chop all ingredients. Season to taste with pepper and refrigerate or serve immediately.
Green Olive Tapenade
- 2 cups pitted castelvetrano olives or other pitted green olives
- 2 tablespoons capers drained
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
- ½ teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 anchovy fillet finely chopped, or more
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Combine olives, capers, olive oil, fresh lemon juice and zest, parsley, garlic and anchovy fillet in the bowl of a food processor; pulse just until the olives are finely chopped, scraping down the sides as necessary. Season to taste with pepper. Transfer to bowl and serve or refrigerate. Enjoy for up to 1 week.