Oh fine, I will make the stupid tapenade.

Sorry about the cranky title. The original title was, “As God is my witness, I will never make tapenade again.” That became “Hey, this tapenade stuff isn’t that bad,” which became, “OMG TAP3NAD3 RVLZ1!1,” which became, “Holy ****, I’m out of tapenade!” which became, “Why does my grocery store’s tapenade have soybean oil instead of olive oil? You think they just hate redundancy? Or what?” which became, “Maybe, just maybe, it won’t suck that much to make more tapenade.” (Actually, the title of this post should have been, “As God is my witness, I will never photograph tapenade again.” It’s hard to take a nice picture of tapenade. Would probably have helped if I hadn’t kept putting it in my mouth.)

Sun Dried Tomato and Olive TapenadeUsing pitted olives for the cursed tapenade would have been easier, but all I had were unpitted olives, and unpitted olives taste better anyway…so they tell me. The fat, soft Kalamatas gave up their pits with just a slight squeeze. The miserly Nicoise olives wouldn’t let go of their giant pits until I suffocated them under a bench scraper and beat them. If you invent an olive pitter than can cleanly pit a Nicoise, I will kiss you on the lips without a condom.

So I decided to make my second batch of tapenade with pitted olives until I found a spare bottle of unpitted Kalamatas in my pantry and dropped a jar of Nicoise olives at the grocery store, breaking the seal on the lid. My grocery store doesn’t have signs that say YOU BREAK YOU BUY, but as a matter of principle I try to abide by that rule in life. I took my frustrations out on the olives. They exacted revenge by breaking up into teams: every once in a while a pit dove into the olive pile and an olive dove into the pit pile. That’s my explanation for why that kept happening because I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t do something that dumb on my own.

“Save a little money each month and at the end of the year you’ll be surprised at how little you have.” — Ernest Haskins

“Pit a giant pile of expensive French olives and at the end of the hour you’ll be surprised at how little you have.” — Annie

Tapenade is so salty, even with soaked olives, that I like to cut it with sun dried tomatoes, which add a nice sweetness and acidity. It also helps you stretch out your hard-earned tapenade. I love spreading it on hot toast or dropping a small spoonful into a big bowl of ripe, summer tomatoes. It seems to keep forever in the fridge, which is great because you can work it into sandwiches and smear it on fish, adding lots of big, complex flavor without extra labor. My recipe is fairly standard, nothing creative or unusual like this one or this one, but if it’s your first time making tapenade, I think you’ll like it. The flavor, I mean, not the work.


· Olives, any variety, any combination, as many as you can stand to pit
· An equal volume (eye it) of sun dried tomatoes
· 1 or 2 rinsed anchovy fillets
· 1 or 2 garlic cloves
· 1 or 2 Tablespoons of rinsed capers
· 1 or 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1) Soak the olives in fresh cold water for an hour or two. If your capers were packed in salt instead of brine, throw the capers into the water to soak too. Rinse.

2) Pit the olives unless they’re already pitted, lucky you. Place olives in a food processor with the other ingredients and process until it’s as fine as you’d like. I like it a bit chunky, but not too too chunky. You can also do this with a mortar and pestle, but by the time you’re done pitting the olives, you probably won’t feel like it. I know I didn’t.

3) Store tapenade in the refrigerator for at least a day to let the flavors meld. Fall in love slowly and tragically.

15 thoughts on “Oh fine, I will make the stupid tapenade.

  1. It does sound just fantastic, even if a bit labor intensive. I have half a can of plain old black olives in the fridge, plus some pitted kalamatas, so I think I need to make something like this!

  2. I’m giggling! I actually use an old recipe from the New Basics cookbook that has been a great go-to dish: 2 cans of pitted black olives, half that amount of green Manzanilla olives with pimento, a tablespoon or so of capers, a couple of cloves of garlic, a tiny bit of olive oil just to bind it — all in the food processor. Presto, tapenade — and it’s delicious.

  3. Yum! I love chunky spreads. Is this still time-consuming, aside from the time it takes for soaking and refrigerating (and the last line of Step 3), if you use pitted olives?

  4. Kalyn: I’d love to see what you come up with!

    Lydia: Ooh, pimento would be great. I have to try that.

    Shalini: If you aren’t pitting, it’s not time-consuming at all. And you don’t even have to soak the olives—I just do that because I try to keep the salt levels down.

  5. Wow… I laughed the whole time. Isn’t it awful when all that work produces something really, truly amazing? You know you’re just going to have to go through it again when you get a craving. It’s kind of how I feel about fresh pasta…

  6. Thankyou, while I’m not sure tampenade is really my thing, this post really made my day.

    And if I ever thought tampenade might be my thing, I surely would not be making it at home now! ROFL.

  7. I’m happy to see that someone else feels the same way about pitting olives. Our swish grocery store has then depitted in the olive bar (The Olive bar? We need martini bar!). So, if I want to, I buy then depitted and then just make it.

    The best quick and dirty dinner, pasta, some feta, some artichoke hearts and mixed in with tapenade.

    Way better than any take out.

  8. Quoted from Becks and Posh (http://becksposhnosh.blogspot.com/2007/08/how-to-pit-olive.html#comments):

    “As someone who spent almost 20 years trying to pit olives with limited success using only a small paring knife, I feel compelled to finally share some useful information I learned last year at Tante Marie’s Cooking School. Sorry I selfishly kept this to myself for so long.


    I’m not a fan of olives, so I haven’t tried it, but it does sound promising. Good luck!

  9. emiglia: I find that fresh pasta cooperates pretty well, despite the work. I think the problem with the olives is that they won’t do as I say.

    Kerrio: You’re welcome. :p

    nazilam: I’m definitely using the olive bar next time. And yum, I think I’ll mix in some artichoke hearts too.

    Kevin: I haven’t actually had gruel, but I bet it’s less work, heh.

    Kate: I think I eat certain things just to have an excuse to put tapenade on it. My shoes could well be next.

    Meg: Thanks! That sounds more violent than the bench scraper method and therefore more therapeutic, if nothing else.

  10. i do believe it is time to blog again!! argh i have already read all of ur previous posts twice now!!! it jst a great website!!! we demand more1!!

  11. aj.yumyum: Thanks so much!

    Linda: Ooh, goat cheese, I’m so doing that next.

    emiglia: Sorry, I was visiting NYC for a while and getting busy with my brother’s wedding. I’ll try to post again soon!

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