For Olive Lovers
This is a very easy black olive tapenade without anchovies that is a guaranteed pleaser at parties.
Making tapenade the first time occurred as a bit of a happy accident. I had been teaching design classes in the area of St Lawrence Market at George Brown. During a semester where I was teaching both day and night courses I got in the habit when I worked late of picking up some of Shefffler’s dips and condiments as my dinner. The leftovers usually would be brought home at the end of the night. I would finish the dips, but the olives, sundried tomatoes and capers were saved for a future use.
An embarrassment of riches
Over time, the containers proliferated to the point where they tumbled out of the refrigerator every time the door was opened. So, one Saturday I pulled all the containers out (an embarrassing number) and combined all the best contents into a one cup container of each, ending up with enough to make a second set of containers.
The second set was comprised of the less attractive pieces. There was nothing wrong with them really, except that they were smaller fragments and tended to be more dessicated. They were still tasty though, and as they were very salted, perfectly safe.
Nevertheless, it clearly wasn’t possible to use them as they were, so I set about making something new out of them, refusing to waste the $15 or $20 worth of condiments. As I said, it was an embarrassing number of containers.
The long tradition of deliciously rescued leftovers
Tossing them into the bowl of a food processor, I added extra virgin olive oil, caper brine, and a bit of water to make up for lost moisture. I like to think that a traditional tapenade may well be similarly made up of leftover bits and pieces, a dish that varies each time it is made. The proportions may very, but it is essentially an olive-based spread with inclusions.
Whether it is made with Kalamata olives, Castelvetrano olives Seville olives, or a combination of olives. is a matter of personal choice. For me it is usually made with dry-cured black olives, but there is no reason not to make a green olive tapenade.
Sometimes made with anchovies
Although this is an anchovy-free tapanade recipe, anchovy fillets are a common ingredient. They are however, one that I personally recommend using in small amounts if at all. One of the things I like to make tapenade for is parties, and since it is nice to bring something all can eat I usually opt therefore for the vegan version.
The best thing about this homemade olive tapenade is that it is such an easy recipe. I have made it many times as a last minute hostess gift using any kind of olives I had on hand. There are 1000’s of types of olives, most of which will be delicious prepared as a tapenade. All varieties of olives are green first and then ripen to black. If you wish to know more about olive varieties, this is an excellent resource.
How long does tapenade last?
How long tapenade will last is a variable depending on how salty it is. The real issue is how hydrated/salty the olive spread is. If your mixture is 10% salt, the tapenade will last indefinitely. That may be hard to measure if you do not have a salinometer. You can reasonably expect a month in a properly sealed jar that was sterilized before it was filled.
A layer of olive oil on the top will help keep it fresh. When I use the tapenade and have some left in the jar, I smooth it down and add a layer of olive oil on top. Properly stored in an airtight container with olive oil, an should last a relatively long time. Certainly well over a month. Given that the ingredients are mostly cured, this could easily last much longer. The real issue here is how hydrated the olive spread is. More hydration gives you a greater chance of spoilage.
A wonderful party appetizer or hostess gift
This delicious spread is a great addition to a charcuterie board or cheese board with crusty bread, toasted baguettes, pita chips, or crackers. A bit of fresh parsley, or fresh basil on top for colour and flavour, a sprig of fresh thyme, or other fresh herbs on the side both provides visual interest and allows guests to add a bit of seasoning to individual servings. This wonderful appetizer, made of commonly available basic ingredients, is one of the healthiest condiments and filled with healthy fats.
Tapenade is a great appetizer, and a wonderful sandwich spread…try it on a chicken breast sandwich with bitter greens like watercress or arugula. Heaven. This sandwich, the creation of my friend Niagara region chef Mara Mascarin at the long-gone and lamented Planet Kensington which she co-owned with the late Drew Barnes, is absolutely at the top of the list of my favorite ways to use this delicious condiment. Right after this is using it as a pizza base as if it were a sauce, or dropped onto pizza in spoonfuls as a topping. Sometimes the spoonful is misdirected into my happy mouth. That may be my very favourite.
I would love to hear from you about your own favourite way to use this recipe.
- 1 cup Pitted Sun Dried Olives or any other olives you have on hand, although the dried olives have a more intense flavour
- 1 cup Sun Dried Tomatoes
- 1/4 cup Capers
- 2-3 cloves Pickled Garlic
- Olive Oil as needed
- Caper brine
- Mince the garlic, roughly chop the capers, olives, and tomatoes
- Blend the ingredients together, using enough olive oil to bind. The amount needed will vary depending on the hydration levels of the other ingredients.
- I dehydrate my own tomatoes and make them very dry, so begin by rehydrating them using the brine from the capers.