March 10th, 2012

Strictly speaking, this isn’t tapenade because the very word comes from the Provençal for capers and I didn’t have any! However, tapenade is a dish with varying ingredients depending on the village or region and in researching this (after making it), I found a couple of “authentic” French recipes (online) which don’t contain capers! I believe that tapenade should contain some or all of the following: anchovies, brandy, capers, garlic, herbs, lemon juice, olives and olive oil. I haven’t come across a tapenade which didn’t contain olives, yet…

Tapenade recipe (serves 2 as a starter):

6 black peppercorns
3 anchovy fillets
3 sprigs of thyme
a mixed cup of green and black olives (roughly chopped)
2 medium sized pieces of garlic (roughly chopped)
a splash of olive oil

chopped olives

Chop the ingredients as indicated above, pull all the leaves off the thyme sprigs and discard the stalks.

anchovy, black peppercorns, garlic and olives

Put everything into a mortar and grind it up until you have a lumpy paste (it isn’t supposed to be smooth). I used olives which had been marinated in olive oil – they did contain stones, so I removed them beforehand. If I’d had any capers, I would have added a teaspoonful. You can, of course, do this in a food processor if you wish.


We ate the tapenade immediately, on giant croutons, warm from the oven (as a starter). I had a few slices of stale St. John, sourdough bread,

olive oil, garlic and herbs

which I soaked in olive oil, gently heated and infused with 8 pieces of garlic (chopped) and ground, mixed herbs.

stale bread soaked in olive oil

Bake the bread for up to an hour at 100º C. Do keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn.

About Mad Dog

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20 Responses to Tapenade

  1. ChgoJohn says:

    Nothing like a fine tapenade and yours sounds delicious. Still, my eye is, once again, drawn to your croutons. So good. So very good. 🙂

  2. That looks very good! I like tapenade with capers, or with anchovies..either, but as you say it must have olives! And you’re right, the Occitan/Provencal word for caper is tapera, and for tapenade it’s taperada.

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks – I was really intrigued about the name and did some digging, since it sounded like the origin is a caper dish without whole olives. I found an interesting post by Clifford A Wright, who suggests that capers used to be preserved in amphora filled with olive oil. Over time the capers and oil became a paste of tapeno and hence tapenade.

  3. rutheh says:

    I will look for a friend’s recipe with artichoke hearts in the tapenade. And wouldn’t this be lovely to serve with drinks before supper?

  4. Tapenade is such a good thing – Patricia Wells adds a small amount of Dijon mustard which does it for me.

  5. Audrey Evermore says:

    This was so good we crunched away in silence …it was like eating Mt Etna , it pushed the boundaries of sensuality and fear so close together that our brains must have produced both adrenalin and endorphins in equal amounts . And that was just the croutons ! Cover this with greedy dollops of Mad Dog’s tapenade and … taste the MediterraneBow.!!!! there were no words … I could have eaten more … I would still be there eating it now if Mad Dog hadnt set a predetermined limit ( a good idea for yourself if you are ever planning to make this !) … this shuts people up for sure … better than sex … really …

  6. Lovely! I am sorry you didn’t have any capers though:/ I tend to get the anchovies with capers, so think when I make this I will definitely have that issue covered:]

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks, though it was lovely without capers! It was a spur of the moment starter – I made the croutons because the bread was stale and I didn’t want to waste it (and the oven was hot), then went through the cupboard to see what would be good on top 😉

  7. peasepudding says:

    You can’t beat a good tapenade, all my favourite ingredients

  8. zestybeandog says:

    I love tapenades! This one looks wonderful!

  9. Pingback: Winter left without goodbye.. no manners | thekitchensgarden

  10. Lovely, lovely, lovely and it sounds like one of your commenters (Audrey) actually got to taste it! Should have bought you a jar of the delicious giant-ish capers they sell here 😉 Next time…

  11. Karen says:

    Tapenade is always a crowd pleaser. After the raves from Audrey, I’m going to make your tapenade as well as the croutons. I think it was the combo that worked so well.

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