Black Olive Tapenade

During the last few months, I believe FrugalFeeding has undergone a reasonably subtle change of direction. If asked for a synonym of the word ‘frugal’, I believe most people would, somewhat wrongly, pluck the word ‘cheap’ from their vocabulary. However, the word frugal is slightly more nuanced than its usual usage might suggest. As the tagline for this blog might suggest, a rather more suitable synonym would be ‘economical’. I believe this recipe encapsulates my slight change in thinking really rather well. Olive tapenade is unlikely to win any awards for being the cheapest, or most necessary, culinary creation. However, this recipe provides an economical solution to one’s desire to indulge in this rather punchy side-dish. If bought at a supermarket, tapenade bears a rather exorbitant price. A price which no man, or indeed woman, in their right mind would be happy to pay. Make tapenade at home, however, and one’s monetary misdemeanour is lessened somewhat. This means that although money has been spent on something which isn’t necessarily necessary, the refusal to buy sub-par and overpriced tapenade has resulted in sound economic policy. Congratulations, you are now on your way to becoming Chancellor of the Exchequer – a position which is perhaps less esteemed than it was in the days of Gladstone.

This recipe should not be attempted by the faint-hearted. As you might imagine, after reading the recipe below, this spread/dip packs some pretty strong flavours. Raw garlic and olives are a match made in heaven, but only if one is used to stomaching such things. As such, it is best eaten with something rather plain and unassuming – a lovely slice of bread, for instance. Believe me, this tapenade will dominate anything it is paired with. Indeed, my favourite way to eat it is to spread it on a thick slice of white bread with a little mayonnaise and sliced tomato. The addition of the tomato serves to lighten the lunch somewhat and provide a little freshness. Please don’t let this talk of strong, overpowering flavours put you off – it is truly delicious, a real delicacy.

Black Olive Tapenade

Serves 8-10


• 160g pitted black olives

• 2 cloves of garlic

• The juice of 1 lemon

• A handful of fresh parsley

• Olive Oil

• Salt and Pepper


1. Bung all of the ingredients into a food processor along with a jolly good glug of extra virgin olive oil. Blitz it until the mixture achieves the required consistency. I like mine left ever so slightly chunky. See above for a jolly good serving suggestion.

Cost: Olives in brine can be picked up for a rather good price these days. You may want to experiment with the type of olive as certain brands may be a little bitter for your own personal preference. However, I generally find that this is more of a problem with green olives. As such the entire bowl of tapenade can be made for little over £1, not bad considering a third of the amount costs nearly three times as much in my local supermarket.

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78 comments on “Black Olive Tapenade

  1. suestopford
    February 14, 2012 at 8:10 am

    I totally agree with all that you have said. I always try and make my own mayo, guacamole, salsa and pesto (when I can find enough basil) and have always made my own salad dressings.

    Your blog is very cool indeed……

    • frugalfeeding
      February 14, 2012 at 11:23 pm

      I am glad you think so! I like that you think it;’s cool 🙂

  2. Jen R
    February 14, 2012 at 8:11 am

    love eating it just with a teaspoon 🙂

  3. spree
    February 14, 2012 at 8:26 am

    Is that a new tag line Nick (the frugal definition) or have I just missed it? I agree that frugal is often thought to be synonymous with cheap and penny-pinching. Maybe it’s better understood as carefully, thoughtfully conserving our resources. One nice thing about tapenade is how a relatively little bit elevates humbler food like bread, even days-old bread. And how frugal is that! Nicely done!

    • frugalfeeding
      February 14, 2012 at 11:03 pm

      Nope, that’s been there for a while. You obviously just aren’t that interested in the many facets of my blog :D. I suppose the two words are roughly synonymous, but the English language is often more nuanced than a lot of people realise – I do love the study English a little. Thanks, Spree.

      • spree
        February 14, 2012 at 11:11 pm

        no, I suppose you’re right…I generally rush right to “Frugal’s” most current post with blinders on to everything else. Hyper-focus does have its drawbacks.

        • frugalfeeding
          February 14, 2012 at 11:21 pm

          tut – that’s all I can say :D. It does indeed, you miss the best parts :D. Shame on you, Spree.

  4. mbnilsson
    February 14, 2012 at 8:55 am

    I love tapenade. I usually use kalamata olives and rosemary. Mmmmm.

    As for the frugal definition, I understand it to also mean that you don’t waste anything. For instance, you make something that calls for egg whites, but instead of tossing the yolks you find some other use for them like making a silky ice cream. If you roast a chicken, you use the leftover bones and meat to make soup and you save scraps of vegetables and meat bones to make stock. That kind of thing. Actually, I read a great tip from a Jacques and Julia cookbook about saving the scraps for stock. Jacques suggested washing out old milk cartons (the paper kind) and every time you have some leftover carrot peels, tomato seeds, celery bits, or any vegetables that are at risk of spoiling soon, you add them to the milk carton and keep it in the freezer. You keep adding bits of things until you have enough to make stock. Then you just peel away the carton and commence with your stock project. Excellent idea. How about that for a tangent?

    • frugalfeeding
      February 14, 2012 at 11:02 pm

      Well yes, that goes hand in hand with being economical. Wasting something is probably the antithesis of being economical.

  5. Zoe @ Pantry and Fridge
    February 14, 2012 at 10:01 am

    Olives – One of my very favorite things. Funny, I never make this… maybe just needed a push. Thanks for the recipe. I hope to use it SOON!!!

    This looks fabulous!

    • frugalfeeding
      February 14, 2012 at 11:01 pm

      Oh do, please let me know how it goes – it really shouldn’t be missed.

  6. Chica Andaluza
    February 14, 2012 at 10:28 am

    Gorgeous and I will certainly be making some with the olives we hed back from pressing this weekend. To me, being frugal is not being wasteful, making the most of ingredients that you have and making something yourself rather than spending lots of money on something of a lesser quality, higher price and often a smaller portion!

    • frugalfeeding
      February 14, 2012 at 11:00 pm

      Thanks! I do hope you do – let me know. Exactly!

  7. Kimby
    February 14, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Your tapenade looks delicious — in fact, the “vibes” from thinking of such an exquisite appetizer must have resonated halfway across the globe — I was about to post a tapenade recipe for my next blog post, lol! (Mine is a variation though, with roasted red peppers, black olives, & capers — will hold off on posting it for awhile.)

    The one ingredient that I do splurge on is an excellent quality olive oil (extra virgin) — I’m fortunate to live near a store that offers “tastings.” It has the potential to affect the overall flavor of the dish, as I’m sure you’ll agree. Anxious to try your serving suggestion with the tomato!

    • frugalfeeding
      February 14, 2012 at 11:00 pm

      Thanks, Kimby. Haha yes, they must have. No no, post it soon – I’m sorry :P. I love olive oil, though it isn’t really that expensive, it lasts quite a while and it’s so worth it. It works VERY well with tomatoes.

  8. thelittleloaf
    February 14, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Black olive tapenade alongside a lovely piece of white fish is heaven. I sometimes add a few capers too which makes it beautifully salty.

    • frugalfeeding
      February 14, 2012 at 10:59 pm

      Oh yes, definitely. Capers can be a good addition, but I’m not a massive fan of them – it’s nothing a little maldon salt can’t handle.

  9. Lisa Moserisa
    February 14, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Looks delicious! I have been meaning to try a tapenade for a while now!

  10. Chef Scar
    February 14, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Looks good, will have to try it. Black olives are a personal favorite, but I note that you use the canned ones, which I find rather bland. Of course the garlic and other ingredients will take care of that problem. I wonder how this would work with nicoise olives or other more flavorful ones.

    • frugalfeeding
      February 14, 2012 at 5:02 pm

      I promise you that the olives I used were not bland and they were not canned – they were jarred, very different.

  11. Jane
    February 14, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    I love all the flavors in this dish! I think all blogs undergo changes over time .. not a bad thing!

  12. Smedette
    February 14, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Mmmmm….I love olives. The Husband hates them, so more for me!

    • frugalfeeding
      February 14, 2012 at 10:58 pm

      Yes! They are an acquired taste. You should force him to acquire it 😀

  13. bitsandbreadcrumbs
    February 14, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Homemade tapenade tastes completely different from that jarred and expensive stuff that one never seems to quite get through. I always make mine with kalamata or nicoise olives and add capers and a bit of anchovy, too. It’s so lovely to top a chicken breast, piece of grilled fish or add to a sandwich, or a pan bagnat with tuna.

    • frugalfeeding
      February 14, 2012 at 10:57 pm

      Yes, they do! Very different indeed. That sounds lovely. Kalamata are probably my favourite type of olives :D. That sounds like a lovely serving suggestion. I know the traditional recipe has capers and anchovies, but I don’t think they add too much and they can be fairly pricey.

  14. Cara
    February 14, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    Thank you for not forgetting about the superior gender in your post: us women. We should have been listed first, in my opinion 🙂 ha. This tapenade looks jolly good though {I’m bringing “jolly” to America!}–and so simple too. I love recipes that are quick and easy!

    • frugalfeeding
      February 14, 2012 at 10:55 pm

      How could I forget you lot, especially today. That would be your opinion :D. Yes! Bring jolly to American, it’s a great colloquialism.

      • Cara
        February 14, 2012 at 10:58 pm

        BAHA!! I can smell your condescension from America,

  15. daisy
    February 14, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    In my opinion, homemade is almost always better and more economical than store bought. Plus you know exactly what goes into the homemade stuff. My husband loves olives and I will have to make this for him. He loves tapenades on his sandwiches and pasta.


    • frugalfeeding
      February 14, 2012 at 11:22 pm

      Oh yes, I COMPLETELY agree… Yes, please do, he’ll adore it.

  16. lazygastronome
    February 14, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    I made this just now. Didn’t have any parsley so used fresh basil instead. Absolutely delicious. Eating it out of the blender with a spoon. Will eat properly tonight as an accompaniment to falafel.

    • frugalfeeding
      February 14, 2012 at 10:53 pm

      OH awesome! That was quick. I’m glad you like it – I did that too. Do enjoy your meal.

  17. baconbiscuit212
    February 14, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    I’ve always disliked the adjective “cheap,” and agree that it shouldn’t be a stand-in for “frugal.” I think of back when food wasn’t so readily available and people saved, preserved, conserved, and stored everything that was delicious so that they didn’t waste anything. To me, that is not being cheap, that is being respectful of the food that you eat and the people who produce it. So bravo for pointing this out!

    As for the tapanade, I was just wondering how long it keeps for? Tapanade is pretty strong and I don’t know if I could ever really have more than a little bit in a sitting . . .

    (it looks great btw)

    • frugalfeeding
      February 14, 2012 at 10:53 pm

      Yes, me too – it has bad connotations. I’m glad you agree so virulently. I have no idea how long it keeps for, probably quite a while considering it has oil in it. I think you should ok… you could always make a little less too.

  18. mrswebbinthekitchen
    February 14, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    I’ve never had tapenade! But I love and agree with your philosophy on “frugal.” I also consider myself quite frugal, but I definitely am not down to eat pasta, rice, and peanut butter constantly to cut costs. I’d say that no matter what you are cooking, every meal you make is saving you HEAPS in comparison to buying prepared or eating out! I look forward to reading more of your blog!

    • frugalfeeding
      February 14, 2012 at 11:28 pm

      Oh you should definitely try a little! Oh me neither, it isn’t about cutting costs, it’s about buying and eating intelligently… I’m glad you’re liking my blog 🙂

  19. Shira
    February 15, 2012 at 4:00 am

    My #1 preganancy food was olive tapenade ~ I used to make it with Capers too and green olives…I think back then I had several recipes to make out of different olive varieties! Yum! Anything to satisfy those intense cravings for salt – this looks delicious!

    • frugalfeeding
      February 16, 2012 at 8:23 pm

      Haha, that’s cool. I shall probably attempt a different recipe somewhere down the line.

  20. Just A Smidgen
    February 15, 2012 at 4:28 am

    I’ve always been just mad about tapenade.. I always loved the sound of that world when it rolls of the tongue.. and the taste of it on my tongue!! I grew up with a mom who was the epitome of frugal.. so I’m well-versed in its nuances.. It’s something to aspire to and to be proud of! So… I shall aspire to be more like you and will be proud of you at the same time! Thanks for the follow!! xo Smidge

    • frugalfeeding
      February 16, 2012 at 8:22 pm

      Yes! I love the word ‘tapenade’ :D, especially when said in a French accent. Thanks, Smidge 🙂

  21. Alli
    February 15, 2012 at 6:15 am

    I love tapenade on a grilled veggie wrap. I would just adore a pot of this in my fridge.

  22. dinutrition
    February 15, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    I just want you to know that I really appreciate your blog! A lot of people think that eating well costs more than eating poorly, but it simply isn’t true. You just need to know how to use ingredients properly. Keep up the good work!

  23. Eva
    February 15, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    Add a little goats cheese and a wonderful cracker, and well, you’ve a lovely little romantic dinner for two. I love making tapenade with kalamata olives which sadly in Toronto tend to be pricey.

    • frugalfeeding
      February 16, 2012 at 8:21 pm

      Oh yes! Though, I feel the tapenade might hide the taste of a wonderful goat’s cheese.

  24. Debbie
    February 16, 2012 at 12:39 am

    I love the way your writing flows, I wish I can some day get to this point. I find it difficult to carry on a conversation with myself….we’ll an invisible audience if you will but you do it so effortlessly. Beautiful! Love the dish too, can’t wait to try it.

    • frugalfeeding
      February 16, 2012 at 8:20 pm

      Thanks! I love being complimented on my writing. It hope it happens for you 🙂

  25. skinnyfatgirls
    February 16, 2012 at 4:27 am

    I’ve tried over the years, unsuccessfully, to enjoy the taste of olives. However, I was pleasantly surprised recently when I tried a lovely herbed oil olive tapenade served on plain crusty bread and could not stop eating it! It seems there is a world of difference between an olive and an olive tapenade. I’ll have to give this recipe a shot!


    • frugalfeeding
      February 16, 2012 at 8:20 pm

      That’s unfortunate. Do give it a go, you’ll love it, I’m sure.

  26. flowercityfoodie
    February 16, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    I just had some roasted monkfish with green olive tapenade (and some kind of tomato-based sauce) at my favorite restaurant. Thanks for the instructions on making tapenade–definitely looks way better than any of that jarred stuff!

    • frugalfeeding
      February 16, 2012 at 8:19 pm

      Oh wow, that sounds amazing. I absolutely love monkfish, but it is SO expensive.

      • flowercityfoodie
        February 17, 2012 at 10:03 pm

        It is definitely pricey, but that’s what a special night out for Valentine’s Day is all about, right?

  27. Good Cooks
    February 16, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    Mmm very delicious, I like to use it in the sandwiches a lot, like you recipe and pictures too, thanks so much for sharing the love…

    • frugalfeeding
      February 16, 2012 at 8:19 pm

      Thanks :D. I shall have to make some more :).

  28. Hotly Spiced
    February 16, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    I love olive tapenade and I agree, buying it from delis is costly. Great that you can make your own for a fraction of the cost.

    • frugalfeeding
      February 16, 2012 at 8:18 pm

      Absolutely. Going to the deli is a nice treat, but too expensive to do everyday…

  29. Corina
    February 16, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    One of my favourite dips to make. I love it with fish, on bread or with chicken. Definitely cheaper and better to make your own than buy it.

    • frugalfeeding
      February 16, 2012 at 10:42 pm

      Oh yes, it has quickly become one of mine. It sounds as though it with go wonderfully with chicken.

  30. Shu Han
    February 16, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    I love strong flavours so I’m not put off in any way, will be making my variation of this pretty soon(:

    • frugalfeeding
      February 16, 2012 at 10:43 pm

      Awesome! I’m glad you are going to do so.

  31. The Teenage Taste
    February 16, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    I’ve always wanted to try making tapenade – this looks delicious!

  32. Jason & Karlin
    February 17, 2012 at 2:53 am

    Looks yummy! Your photos are looking fantastic as well! Thanks for the comments on our latest post.

  33. Cultural Life
    February 17, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    I love shop-bought olive tapenade but nothing is as good as making your own IMO. I will definitely try making this soon. Yummy! 🙂

  34. puret0ne
    February 24, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Oh I like that! I’ve never thought about making it myself though. Yum!

    • frugalfeeding
      March 2, 2012 at 10:09 am

      Oh you must. It’s so much cheaper and tastier.

  35. beezerella
    December 28, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Mine is similarly budget but with slightly different ingredients 😉 Love your blog.. I still have my home-written recipe book from when I was at University ’95-99 and still use some of the recipes, it’s like an old and loved diary! You’re lucky to have all the photo and internet capability to blog instead and make a community out of your inspirations. Nice!

    • frugalfeeding
      December 28, 2012 at 11:06 pm

      Fantastic :). That’s a cool idea! I am very lucky indeed!

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