Tapenade: How It's Made & the Many Varieties

Tapenade - you have probably heard the word quite a few times, but do you actually know what it means? Sure, we all have a vague idea of it resembling a paste and looking a lot like pates and rillettes, but exactly what is tapenade? How is it made? Where did it come from? Let’s explore, shall we?

Tapenade is a French name derived from the word tapenos - or capers - and it’s mainly used to refer to a Provencal olive-based spread… Hm… That does not quite match up now, does it? Sure, capers are usually an integral ingredient for tapenades, but why name a dish so heavily centered around olives for something else? Who knows - when it comes to naming things, people can be weird, how else do you explain the difference between Kansas and Arkansas?!

Considering the fact that the main ingredient for tapenade is olive, it doesn’t come as a surprise that these spreads are predominantly connected to Mediterranean cuisine - especially to France and Italy, both of which have their slightly different takes on this classic. Tapenade-like spreads have been mentioned in Roman cookbooks dating as far back as 234 BC - so we can safely say that the history behind olive pate is quite significant!

What Is Tapenade Made of?

Classic French tapenade is made of either pureed or finely chopped olives (green or black), capers, and oftentimes anchovies, that get mixed with olive oil until a paste has formed. Optional additions can also include garlic, different herbs, lemon juice, and, depending on region, even brandy!

Italian tapenade, on the other hand, is made of pretty much identical ingredients, except for one subtle - although, considering the name, not so subtle - omission: capers. Yes, really! Italian tapenade doesn’t usually have the one ingredient the spread is named after - whoever came up with the name, really should’ve thought a bit more about the hierarchy of the ingredients! Actually, in this regard, Italian tapenade is pretty similar to New Orleans’ beloved spread Giardiniera that you’ll often find to be included in local sandwiches (it’s utterly delicious, by the way! If you even find yourself following Homer Simpson’s food trip around the New Orleans, make sure to add this decadent spread to your list)!

However, nowadays, tapenade doesn’t just mean olive spread - through the years, it has almost become an umbrella term for a wide variety of pates, mostly made of different types of vegetables. From tomato to mushroom and even eggplant tapenade, there is no end to all the decadent pastes you can make! So is tapenade always olive? Not anymore!

Different Types of Tapenade & How to Choose One?

While having a wide array of products to choose from is an undoubted comfort, it can also easily become a burden - how is one supposed to know whether to go for a black olive tapenade or a green olive one? Or maybe artichoke tapenade could be better? Or truffle one? It’s easy to get confused!

Well, the key is to know what you’re looking for in your tapenade! Do you want to experience the classic taste to see for yourself what the hype is all about? In that case, French green olive tapenade and black olive tapenade will both do the trick - actually, you should probably taste both to see which one you prefer, although it’s very likely that it will coincide with the type of olive you generally favor.

And if you want something still pretty classic, but with just a little bit of a twist, L’Epicurien’s green olive tapenade with almonds is a perfect place to start since it’s not too drastic of a change, and the nuttiness from the almonds suits the traditional mix impeccably well! Want a premium option for special occasions? Easy! Nyons Olive’s black olive tapenade is the ultimate taste of luxury, and it still won’t break the bank! So, for fancy hors d’eouvres, you know where to look! As for an everyday treat, Dalmatia’s black olive tapenade is just what you need - stunning quality & a wallet-friendly price!

Want to try Italian varieties as well? Le Conserve Della Nonna is at your service! Not only do they make the best classic Italian black olive tapenade, but they also provide you with some miscellaneous flavors full of intrigue and decadence! Are you up for sun-dried tomato tapenade? Maybe a sweet pepper one? Truffle & mushrooms? Why not! They all sound delicious!

And as for how to eat tapenade, your options truly are limitless - need a snack? Find your favorite crackers and get dippin’! Toast some leftover baguette (or any other bread, really) and add a generous layer of tapenade! Enjoy different variations of vegetable spreads the same way you’d eat hummus - with crudités or chips, the choice is yours! And if you feel like cooking, French cuisine often utilizes olive tapenade as a stuffing for poultry - so feel free to experiment with your favorite meaty dishes as well!

Where to Buy Olive Tapenade?

From olive to truffle and many more, you can find all of the Mediterranean spreads and sauces you’ve been wanting to try right here, on colorful digital shelves of Yummy Bazaar! Peruse, discover and experiment - after all, isn’t that what the culinary world is for? Easy snacks and gourmet aids - with us, you can get your hands on any flavor and stock your pantry for any occasion! So pick your favorites and Bon Apetit!

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