Sunday Spring Cleaning: Olive Tapenade with Arugula & Sun-dried Tomato

tapenade1I’m not really a big olive fan.  I don’t mind black olives, sliced on pizza or sprinkled on the top of nachos or an enchilada, but you’ll never catch me munching on one of those monster Spanish olives, stuffed with pimentos.  I think it’s a combination of texture and taste – I’m not fond of pickled things in general, but I do like olive tapenade, in moderation; something about chopping up the olives with a little garlic & oil makes them much more palatable.

The not-liking-olives has been a problem, since for a few months now I’ve had a jar of Spanish olives in the fridge.  Friends of mine brought over martini fixin’s one day this winter, and other than the few olives that went into (their) martinis, the rest have been languishing in the fridge, taking up valuable real estate.  I also had a can of black olives that I inherited when Christina moved to California, thus it seemed that a tapenade was in order.

This is a quick & easy recipe for a sunny Sunday when you’d rather not be cooking at all.  It’s pretty tasty, and would be good spread on crostini or crusty artisinal bread, but would also make a nice marinade for chicken or swordfish, or a great relish for grilled chorizo, Italian sausage or a veggie burger.

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Adapted very loosely from Olivada in The New Basics by J. Rosso and S. Lukins


Olive Tapenade with Arugula & Sun-dried Tomato


  • 3/4 cup Spanish green olives, stuffed with pimentos
  • 3/4 cup black Californian olives, pitted
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1/8 – 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp finely minced baby arugula
  • 1/2 oz dried tomatoes, reconstituted in boiling water & chopped, OR about 1/4 cup dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped
  • 1 tsp tomato-soaking water, or 1/2 tsp of olive oil from tomato jar
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • couple of pinches sea salt


  1. Drain and rinse the olives under cool water. Add olives and garlic to the bowl of a food processor, and pulse a couple of times to combine.  With the machine on, slowly drizzle olive oil in through the feed tube; start with 1/8 of a cup of olive oil, and add more as needed to achieve the desired consistency.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and add arugula, chopped tomatoes, tomato-water (or oil) and black pepper.  Taste before adding any salt, then adjust seasonings to taste.

Yields about 1 cup.


  1. The original recipe called for capers; another pickled food that I am not crazy about, but by all means, if you are a fan, or have a jar of capers languishing in the pantry, add some in – about 3 tbsp ought to do it.
  2. The original recipe also called for chopped Italian parsley rather than arugula – I trimmed down the parsley plant on Friday (to make a sausage, brie and fresh herbs sandwich, yum), so I used arugula instead.  I think parsley would be equally as good.
  3. One type of olive, or any combination, will work here; just use up whatever is on hand.
  4. Save the remaining tomato-soaking water to add to soup or stew, bean- or rice-cooking water, or whatever could use a little flavor boost.


About 1 week in the refrigerator.


With fresh parsley, this could be made year-round, but baby arugula is mostly available in Spring.


  1. Pingback: Olive Tapenade with Arugula and Sun-Dried Tomato - Recipe Hearth

  2. Fluff

    Nice mix here but contrary to popular belief, it’s not tapenade if there’s no caper berries. The word tapenade comes from the regional language from the south of France and means capers. Olives are the bigger ingredient but it’s the caper that gives the tapenade its tangy flavor.

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