The Mortar and Pestle: Tapenade with Herbs

Good cooks and herbalists treasure—and use—a tool that’s been around for millenia.

| April/May 2001

Tapenade with Herbs
Makes about 1½ cups

Use tasty imported olives such as Kalamata or well-cured California olives. Green olives can also be used; the meatier the better. Serve this tapenade with toast, bread, or crackers, or with grilled or raw vegetables as a dip. I especially like it with tomatoes, raw fennel, or roasted bell pepper strips, and on sandwiches and hard-boiled eggs.

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Large pinch coarse salt
  • A few red pepper flakes (if desired)
  • 1 cup pitted black or green olives
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 handful Italian parsley leaves, torn roughly
  • 2 teaspoons fresh marjoram or summer savory leaves, or 1½ teaspoons winter savory
  • About ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  1. Peel the garlic cloves and place them in a large mortar with the salt. Add the red pepper flakes, if desired. Crush the garlic with the pestle and add about one-third of the olives. Pound the olives to crush them. Continue adding the olives a third at a time and pound with the pestle. Add the capers and crush them. The tapenade should still be slightly chunky at this point.
  2. Add the herbs and black pepper and continue the pounding motion until the herb leaves are fairly broken down. Drizzle in the olive oil, about 1 tablespoon at a time, running the pestle around the mortar in a circular motion.
  3. Serve the tapenade at room temperature; it can be served immediately but tastes better if allowed to stand for a half hour. Covered tightly, it will keep in the refrigerator for a week to ten days. (You may need to stir in a little more olive oil once it comes to room temperature.)
Click here for the original article, The Mortar and Pestle. 



September 12-13, 2019
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