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Cuillere de tapenade.jpg
CourseHors d'œuvre
Place of originFrance
Region or stateProvence
Main ingredientsOlives, capers, anchovies

Tapenade (French pronunciation: ​[tapəˈnad]; Occitan: tapenada [tapeˈnadɔ]) is a Provençal[1] name for a spread, condiment and culinary ingredient consisting of puréed or finely chopped olives, capers, and anchovies.[2] Its name comes from the Provençal word for capers, tapenas (pronounced [taˈpenɔs]). It is a popular food in the south of France, where it is generally eaten as an hors d'œuvre spread on bread, with fish, in salads, and sometimes used to stuff poultry for a main course.

History of similar dishes[edit]

Tapenade in a mortar

Olive-based dishes with anchovies or vinegar are ubiquitous in Italian cuisine, documented in ancient Roman cookbooks dating back more than a thousand years before the appearance of the Occitan word tapenade. One of the earliest known of such Italian recipes, Olivarum conditurae, appears in Columella's De re Rustica written in the first century AD.[3][4] Cato the Elder (234–149 B.C.) also includes a recipe for epityrum, an olive spread very much like a tapenade, in chapter 119 of his On Agriculture. The use of capers is the hallmark of recipes for tapenade.[1]

Sometimes tapenade is confused with New Orleans olive salad, a critical component in the New Orleans sandwich the muffaletta. New Orleans olive salad is more properly called a giardiniera. It also does not contain capers, but does contain cauliflower, carrots, and celery.[citation needed]

According to the culinary works of Provençal chefs Jean-Baptiste Reboul and Charles Julliard, the tapenade was created in 1880, by chef Meynier, of the restaurant La Maison Dorée in Marseille. To garnish the hard-boiled egg halves, he pounded together an equal amount (200 grams) of capers and black olives, then incorporated anchovy fillets and marinated tuna (100 grams each). This condiment composition was then tied with a whisk after adding spices, pepper, olive oil and two glasses of cognac.[5]


The base ingredients of tapenade are olives and capers.[1] The olives (most commonly black olive) and capers are chopped finely, crushed, or blended. Then olive oil is added gradually until the mixture becomes a paste.[6]

In various regions tapenade is often flavoured differently, with other ingredients such as garlic, herbs, anchovies, lemon juice, or brandy.[7]


Tapenade may be used as part of an appetizer served as a topping on crusty bread or crudités.

It can be an ingredient in salad, as shown in the image from a Provence restaurant.

At a country bistro in Caseneuve: Warm goat cheese salad with eggplant tapenade.

It may also be used as a condiment and in preparing fish dishes.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "What is Tapenade?". Clifford A. Wright - Provence. 2022. Retrieved 17 May 2022.
  2. ^ Food, BBC. "Tapenade". BBC Food. Retrieved 4 July 2011.
  3. ^ "Olivarum Conditurae (from Columella's de re Rustica)". Retrieved 20 January 2013.
  4. ^ "De Re Rustica of Columella" (Loeb Classical Library ed.). 1941. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
  5. ^ "Supplementum Epigraphicum GraecumSelaema. Stela sep. Op. cit. 566, n. 84". Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum. Retrieved 15 May 2022.
  6. ^ Carl, Anna Watson (6 September 2013). "Provençal Olive Tapenade". France Today. Retrieved 17 May 2022.
  7. ^ "Supplementum Epigraphicum GraecumNysa ad Maeandrum. Fragm. Op. cit. 73". Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum. Retrieved 15 May 2022.
  8. ^ "Provençal Pistou, Tapenade and Rouille". Regions of France. Retrieved 17 May 2022. Referring to the Provençal name for "capers" tapéno, the tapenade puree of olives can be served either spread on bread, brushed on meat or fish, or used as a dressing with salad or vegetables.