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TAPENADE: olives, capers, anchovy, oil, herbes de Provence and Friends

Written by KeiKwan Kwong Published Aug 11, 2014
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Tapenade is a specialty of Provence. Its origin traced back to the end of the 19th century. It is a starter which is easy to prepare and enjoyed by all.

Tapenade: Its Origin

Tapenade was created by chef Meynier of Maison Dorée in Marseille in 1880. The restaurant is no longer there but the recipe has become world famous. The main ingredients include olives, olive oil and capers. Indeed, tapenade means caper in the Occitan language.

tapenade, olives, cuisine, Provence

Photo © SEILLE Jean Luc / Conseil Général de Vaucluse

The Classic Tapenade of Chef Meynier

The chef created the tapenade for the decoration of hard boiled egg halves. He first mashed 200g of capers and 200g of black olives. He then added 100g of anchovy filets and 100g of marinated tuna. He mixed the paste with spices, pepper, olive oil and two glasses of brandy!

To enjoy better the taste of olives, it would be better to prepare the tapenade one day before. To preserve it, it has to be well covered with olive oil and kept in the refrigerator.

Tapenade: When and How

The tapenade is only served as a starter but always shared with friends. It is usually spread on bread but some also dip with biscuit or vegetable sticks. It can also be used as poultry stuffing. And, what wine to pair with? Traditionally the rosé such as le Bandol, Tavel and Ventoux. Red wine like le Minervois or white wine such as le Cassis is also a good matching.

Three Recipes Proposed by The Provence Herald


Tapenade made with black olives is the most traditional. The main ingredient is of course olives, and also capers and anchovy filets. Add grinded garlic, some olive oil and pepper to enhance the overall flavour.

black tapenade

Ingredients (for 6 persons):

200 g Black olives
50 g Capers
50 g Anchovy filets
1 tsp Marc de Provence
15 cl Olive oil

Preparation (10 minutes):

– Mix and mash well the olives, capers and anchovy filets.

– Add the Marc de Provence and olive oil into the paste.


Tapenade can also be made with green olives.

green tapenade

Ingredients (for 6 personnes):

200 g Stoned green olives
10 Anchovy filets (half the weight of olives)
100 g Drained capers (around 2 tbsp)
15 cl Olive oil
Black pepper
3 cloves of garlic (optional)
A trickle of lemon juice (optional)

Preparation (30 minutes):

– Mash the stoned olives, anchovy filets and capers in a mortar or a mincer.

– Add the olive oil slowly while mashing the ingredients until they turn into a smooth paste.

– Season with pepper, garlic and a little bit of lemon juice. You can also add herbs like thyme or basil.

Note: you may also add tuna into the tapenade (half tuna, half anchovy).


The tomato-based tapenade has become really popular.

red tapenade

Ingredients (for 6 persons):

120 g Dried tomatoes in oil
100 g Stoned green olives
2 tbsp Pine kernels
5 tbsp Olive oil
1 tsp Drained capers
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
1 tbsp Lemon juice

Preparation (20 minutes):

– Mix and mash all ingredients in a bowl. The paste should not be too thick.

– Add olive oil, capers, pine kernels, lemon juice, herbes de Provence according to your taste but do not cover the taste of tomatoes.

Bon Appétit!

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