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Easy French Recipes: Recipe for Tapenade

Updated on April 27, 2012
Photo source: Shanna11
Photo source: Shanna11

Tapenade is an easy to make olive spread from the south of France, or Provencal France. This salty dish is usually eaten with crudités or as an appetizer and features a heavy olive base, accented with various other fresh flavors.

While tapenade can sometimes be visually unappealing, it's pungent scent and fresh, salty flavors are uniquely French and delicious on crackers, bread and vegatables.

You can add anchovies, garlic, basil, mint, or experiment with a wide variety of different herbs and ingredients. This easy to follow recipe takes just minutes to make and adds a quick, cultural flair to banquets, simple meals and more.

You can also easily make this recipe with children and teach them about the food eaten in different countries. It may surprise kids how good olives can taste when made in new and different ways (it surprised me!).

What are Crudités?

Crudités are French appetizers that usually accompany Tapenade. They are whole or freshly cut vegetables.

20 olives in a mini blender. Photo source: Shanna11
20 olives in a mini blender. Photo source: Shanna11

Ingredients for Tapenade

The main ingredients for Tapenade are as follows:

  • 1 can black olives or Kalamata olives (Depending on which one you prefer more or can find more easily).
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1-1/4 tsp lemon juice
  • 3 tsp cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder OR 1/2 garlic clove
  • 1 box of crackers of your choice OR freshly cut crudités

If you prefer a heavier tart citrus undertone, add more lemon juice and if you like garlic, add the fresh garlic clove instead of powder. Cilantro may be subsituted for fresh basil, parsley, thyme, oregano, or any other desirable fresh herb.

Anchovies is another popular tapenade additive that I have excluded simply for the reason that I can't even look at their sad little fishy bodies without getting depressed. Two anchovy fillets or a 1/2 tsp of anchovy paste would work great in this recipe, but can be modified per taste.

Tapenade is generally a pretty malleable recipe. All it really needs are capers, olives, oilive oil and lemon juice as a base.

Source: Shanna11
Source: Shanna11

How to Make Tapenade

1. Open the can of olives halfway, and allow the liquid inside to drain out. Hold the can under the faucet to allow water to get inside the can. Shake vigorously to rinse the olives and then drain. Add 20 olives to a blender or food processor. You can also hand chop the olives very finely.

2. Add lemon juice, olive oil and capers and blend thoroughly. If you are making tapenade by hand, chop capers finely before adding.

3. Add 3 tsp of finely chopped cilantro. You can add whole leaves, but I find they blend better and get mixed in better when they are chopped before being added.

4. Add garlic powder and pepper to taste if you so desire.

Fair warning-- Tapenade is not the most physically attractive food, especially when it is either not uniformly cut, or it is not properly ground. However, the taste makes up for the less-than-attractive look.

5. Add a small (or large!) serving of Tapenade to a cracker or vegetable and enjoy!

Tapenade can stay in the refrigerator for about three days, but does not taste good thawed. Tapenade tastes best fresh and works great as a dip on vegetable or cracker trays at a variety of different occasions.

Be sure to rate and let me know if you liked this Tapenade recipe below!

Your tapenade will look much better than this-- my blender broke halfway through making it, and then the fire alarm went off in my apartment and the tapenade was abandoned for a half hour. Photo source: shanna11.
Your tapenade will look much better than this-- my blender broke halfway through making it, and then the fire alarm went off in my apartment and the tapenade was abandoned for a half hour. Photo source: shanna11.
4.7 stars from 3 ratings of Tapenade

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    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

      I have always wanted to learn to cook anything French - I just love the way it sounds! This would be an elegant and tasty appetizer - and it looks so easy! Sharing and pinning!

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      I've had some in France. It will be great to be able to make some at home. Great recipe here, thanks for sharing, Shanna.

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