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Classic olive tapenade is an easy and sophisticated dish that your guests will love.
What is Olive Tapenade
Tapenade is the Provençal (Occitan dialect in southern France) word for a type of spread or condiment made of finely chopped or puréed olives, capers, and anchovies. It’s typically eaten as an appetizer atop fresh crusty bread or toasted slices.
In Italian it’s known as paté or battuta di olive (from Italian for beaten) and is much simpler. It’s generally made with just olives and oil, but sometimes includes herbs, garlic, capers, anchovies, and even pine nuts.
Who Invented Olive Tapenade
Ancient Roman cuisine was notoriously filled with olive dishes. Both Columella and Cato the Elder wrote extensively on agriculture and popular ingredients and recipes. Both made reference to dishes including olives, vinegar, and capers.
Olive paté may even have been invented during the process of pressing olives for oil. Waste not, want not!
How to Make Olive Tapenade
Tapenade is fast and easy, but also an impressive and flavorful appetizer. All you need are fresh ingredients and a food processor. Remember that this recipe is just a guide. You can use whatever fresh herbs you like. Fresh ground pepper also adds a nice kick.
- 3/4 cups pitted Castelvetrano olives
- 13/4 cups pitted kalamata or Niçoise olives
- 1/4 cup Italian parsley + extra for garnish
- 1 sprig of oregano (run it between two fingers to de-stem)
- 1 Tbs drained capers. If using salted, soak prior for milder flavor.
- 1/4 cup olive oil (more as needed)
- 1 Tbs anchovy paste
- 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove (optional)
Combine ingredients in a food processor and pulse until you reach the desired texture. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides and give it one more pulse or two. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve atop crusty baguette, toasted crostini or alongside crudités.
Wine Pairing with Olive Tapenade
Olive tapenade is a simple dish with complex components that make it a lot of fun to pair with wine!
Remember that the base is olive oil, which renders it quite unctuous, so you’ll want a wine that is clean and refreshing to keep your palate from feeling heavy. This will also clear the way for all of the earthy olive and caper flavors and as well as anchovies and herbs to really sing.
The only thing to be aware of is a salty finish. Mediterranean white and rosé wines tend to have some sea-salty elements or volcanic aromas and a lingering finish. This is great for palate cleansing, but too much minerality might be overpowering.
Look for fruitier styles of white and rosé wines, like a Ligurian or Tuscan Vermentino or a Provençal rosé. A brut Champagne Rosé, Cava Rosé, or Crémant Rosé will also do the trick.