Three Olive Tapenade Plus How to Roast a Pepper

by formerchef on October 18, 2010

Post image for Three Olive Tapenade Plus How to Roast a Pepper

All of my friends like olives. It’s a bit odd, but I think I could have a dinner party with nothing but bread, wine, and olives and everyone would be perfectly content. When I recently made a batch of this tapenade for a Sunday dinner at my mother’s house it was as if I’d brought a pot of gold instead of a small crock of olive spread. Call it olive crack.
In fact, while I was in Cambodia, my husband posted this on Facebook, “Kristina has only been in Cambodia since Saturday, so it looks like cold chicken and olive tapenade on english muffins for dinner tonight. What will I do when there’s no more tapenade?”
Sigh. Really? That’s what he eats when I’m gone?

I’ve been making a version of this for at least the last 15 years and for some reason it fell of my radar for a while, replaced by home cured olives or exotic ones purchased from my favorite Middle East market. I think it’s going to go back into heavy rotation however, because it’s a very versatile ingredient as well as being a great thing to spread on a slice of toasted baguette.
It can be turned into a pasta sauce, used to top a baked potato, made into a vinaigrette (tasty on fish or a salad) or made into a sandwich (muffaletta anyone?). In fact, I made a fantastic vegetarian sandwich with toasted whole wheat bread, Swiss cheese, the last of my garden tomatoes, avocado and a thick layer of olive tapenade. 

Three Olive Tapenade Recipe
Printable Recipe in PDF

1 cup kalamata olives, pitted
1 cup large green olives, pitted
1 cup California olives, pitted
1 each red bell pepper, roasted and cut into 1″ pieces (see instructions below)
4-5 cloves of garlic
1/2 oz parsley, loosely chopped
1/2 oz basil, loosely chopped
3 tsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp capers
5 Tbsp olive oil

Tools needed: Cuisinart or other food processor. If you don’t have one, you can chop everything very fine by hand, it will just take you longer.

Notes: This tapenade is an easy option for something to bring to a holiday party or potluck and makes quite a bit (about 3.5 cups of tapenade). The recipe can be cut in half, but it also keeps for a few weeks in the refrigerator in an air tight container. You can use any kind of olives you like but I selected these three because they are easy to find in just about any grocery store and they offer a nice mix of color and a balance of flavors between mild and salty.

1. Put the olives, capers, garlic and peppers into the cuisinart. Pulse in 1 second intervals 10-15 times. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

2. Add the herbs, lemon juice and olive oil. Pulse another 10 times or so, stopping in the middle to scrape down the sides of the bowl. In the end, you want the pieces to be 1/8″ to 1/4 ” in size and you want to see all the colors of the olives and peppers. Be careful not to over-process it or it will turn into a smooth gray/brown paste.

Yield: 3.5 cups


How to Roast a Pepper

It’s really very simple to roast a pepper and there’s no need to buy the ones which come in jars if you have a few minutes to roast your own. If you want to roast a lot at one time, I recommend doing them on a BBQ or putting them on a sheet pan and roasting them in the oven. But if you only need one, you can do the first part as seen below, on top of a gas burner on the stove.
**Do not do this on an electric stove burner and do not walk away from the pepper when it is on the stove.**

1. Brush or spray the pepper lightly with olive oil.
2. Put the pepper over a low flame and turn it frequently with tongs, allowing it to char on all sides.
3. When done (this takes 7-10 minutes), place in a bowl covered with plastic wrap while the pepper is still warm. The heat will create steam and will loosen the skin.
4. When cool, cut the pepper in half, peel off the skin and rinse to remove the seeds and any little black pieces of charred skin. Use as needed. 

1 Nick (Macheesmo) October 18, 2010 at 8:46 am

I love olives so much. I just got back from Italy and I miss the olives already…

2 Amy October 18, 2010 at 9:58 am

Oh yes, serving this tapenade with wine and bread is all one needs for a dinner party. Just tell me when and where to be.

3 Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen October 19, 2010 at 10:55 am

This looks fantastic! I am going to brine fresh olives, and then I might use some to make some tapenade! YUM!

4 baby kleidung October 20, 2010 at 9:41 am

I usually don’t post in Blogs but your blog forced me to, amazing work.. beautiful …

5 Peggy October 22, 2010 at 6:28 am

The tapenade sounds absolutely delicious! I’ve always wanted to try roasting the peppers on the stove (I usually just broil them in the oven), but have always been a little bit timid about it. I think the next time I need roasted peppers I’ll definitely be doing it that way, though, thanks to you!!

6 Rich October 22, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Wow – you know, I love tapenade (I suppose olives in general) and the fantastic photo got me to the site … but you’re a pretty fantastic writer, too. Engaging and thorough, descriptive but not overbearing. I don’t know if you developed your style intentionally, but it’s really fun to read. And the photos are pretty stinking good, too!

7 Brit October 22, 2010 at 5:35 pm

This looks amazing, absolutely amazing.

8 MeatHub Inc. October 27, 2010 at 12:34 pm

This tapenade looks delicious. I’m not the biggest fan of olives, but do enjoy an olive tapenade… 😀

9 John October 30, 2010 at 7:57 am

Two suggestions (i.e., what I do!) for even more punch…

A couple of anchovy filets tossed into the blender
Some dried red pepper flakes

10 formerchef October 30, 2010 at 8:09 am

John- Both great ideas!

11 Mary November 1, 2010 at 4:26 pm

Oh, this looks beautiful! I love the colors and the presentation!

Great blog.; happy I found you!

Mary xo
Delightful Bitefuls

12 momawake November 3, 2010 at 11:52 am

How much is 1/2 oz in dried herbs? That’s all I have at the moment.

13 formerchef November 3, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Dried herbs can be much stronger than fresh. I would make the batch of tapenade without them, and then add them in by the teaspoonful, until it tastes good to you.

14 Hilah November 19, 2010 at 10:37 am

Good Golly, that’s the most beautiful tapenade I’ve ever seen. I just made a batch but over-processed it and it looks a little like dog food but it still tastes wonderful. I added two anchovy fillets, some red pepper and a tablespoon of fresh oregano. Making sandwiches now!

15 FortFoodie November 29, 2010 at 11:58 am

I just made this for Thanksgiving as a snack while we were cooking…everyone loved it! I served with thin crackers and it was soooo good. In fact, I think I’m making it again for our holiday party. I hand cut everything too, and it was well worth the effort. Yummy!

16 formerchef November 29, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Thanks for letting me know! Glad you enoyed it.

17 Latoya Bridges December 22, 2010 at 12:49 am

How much is 1/2 oz in dried herbs? That’s all I have at the moment.

18 formerchef December 22, 2010 at 8:27 am

Dried herbs can be much stronger than fresh. I’d start with 2 teaspoons and then taste and adjust from there.

19 Vicky January 13, 2011 at 3:06 pm

The only green olives I had when I wanted to make this were blue cheese stuffed, and it actually works quite well! Just a twist to consider… 🙂 Thanks for sharing this great recipe!

20 lola josey June 1, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Have made olive tapenade before, love it!! This sounds like a better recipe and will make it for an art reception next Thurs.

21 Sachi A August 20, 2012 at 3:45 pm

This was marvelous! It tasted great, and there was a magnificent balance between richness and acidity. This took me a few hours since I don’t have a food processor and it was worth the time!

I took your advice on how to roast the pepper, and it worked almost perfectly! I forgot to cover it and let it steam, but even without that, it was very easy to peel.

22 Anne August 24, 2012 at 5:39 am

I cheat a bit when I make my tapenade. I buy the olives with the garlic cloves stuffed inside of them. Between the flavors of the roasted peppers garlic in the olives and a little of the brine from the green olives I don’t need to add any other spices. I do buy the jar of roasted peppers. It costs ten dollars for the ingrediants to make my tapenade and it costs ten dollars for a jar but making my own I get ten times as much. I love to mix it into chicken or tuna salad or any kind of sandwich. I think I may trie a walla walla sweet onion in my next batch just too see if the sweetness gives it a little different flavor. Well all enjoy your adventures in the world of food.

23 Gina Porciello May 15, 2013 at 6:16 pm

This is hands down the best olive tapenade I have ever made or had. Based on my own preference, I roasted the garlic, added a small orange pepper, and reduced the capers to 1 tb. Great recipe!

24 formerchef May 15, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Thanks for letting me know! Those are great additions too. 🙂

25 Veda A. Baldwin August 7, 2014 at 5:37 pm

I made this recipe and it’s perfect!! I followed the recipe without changing anything (always do the first time I make anything!) After I made it, I canned it in 4 oz, jars–beautiful!! Going to sell at Christmas bazaar!

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