Kalamata Olive Tapenade on Crostini with Goat Cheese Parmesan Cheese and Basil

One of the main reasons why we bought our house was the big kitchen and breakfast bar area. Have you noticed people always cram in the kitchen no matter how small or awkward it is? It’s really handy to have a place for people to sit and chat and get out of our way while we’re putzing around getting food together.

This weekend, I put the little one down for a nap and ran into the kitchen to start making some tapenade. I knew I wanted a nice rough purée of Kalamata olives to spread on some toasted crostini. Beyond that, I wasn’t sure what goes in it. I poured through my cookbook collection to see what it was all about.

What is it that makes it so addicting? Apparently, tapenade is traditionally made with capers, anchovies, olive oil, and lemon juice, but traditional recipes aren’t always the best… and anchovies kind of gross me out.

Kalamata Olive Tapenade Ingredients Capers Olives Olive Oil

Regardless, I decided to try it out. I put together a few variations: traditional tapenade, tapenade without anchovies (to see what the fuss was about), and a roasted eggplant and Kalamata olive tapenade.

Each recipe had Kalamata olives, capers, and lemon juice in varying amounts.

Kalamata Olive Ingredients Garlic Capers Lemon Juice

Right when I was finishing up, the family popped into the kitchen out of no where and plopped down on the bar stools at the breakfast bar. I think they have a free food radar.

It was a happy coincidence that I was making a traditional table condiment from a country that is instilled with the habit of a casual family meal. To be honest, it’s something we should do more often. They only way it could have been better was if I had a carafe of house red wine on the table. (Hm, that does sound good, doesn’t it?) Unfortunately, it was only 11 am and more importantly, I had already finished off the remaining wine earlier this week. Whoops.

Roasted Eggplant Tapenade Scored Flesh

Eggplant and Kalamata olives pair well with Parmesan and goat cheeses. So, I put together a selection of cheeses, tapenades, and olive oil brushed toasted crostini and we had at it. I was barely able to snap a couple pictures.

Kalamata Olive Tapenade Crostini with Parmesan Goat Cheese Fresh Basil Chiffonade

The verdict? Apparently the anchovies in the traditional tapenade provided the right amount of umami to make it a winner. Granted, the other variations were a tasty treat as well. Trust me though, you can barely even tell the anchovies are in there (and this is coming from someone that’s peevish about fish).

My favorite combination was a thin sliver of Parmesan, a small spoonful of tapenade, and some chiffonade of fresh basil. It also went really well with the tangy goat cheese. I’d love to try out some variations with sun dried tomatoes too, but perhaps another week.

Traditional Tapenade

Line of Crostinis with Kalamata Olive Tapenade and Fresh Basil


Yield: ~1 cup

  • ~⅓ of a 2 oz can anchovy fillets (~2 large fillets)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 6 oz black ripe olives or ~1.5 cups, rinsed, dried, pitted
  • 1/2 cup capers, rinsed
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste (it will depend on how salty your olives are)


  1. Make sure your olives and capers are rinsed well. Otherwise you’ll end up with really salty tapenade!
  2. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. It should be a thick but spreadable consistency.
  3. Season with salt to taste.

Roasted Eggplant and Kalamata Olive Tapenade

Row of Crostinis with Roasted Eggplant Tapenade


Yield: ~1 cup

  • 1 pound of eggplant (~1 large or 2 medium), halved lengthwise and flesh scored in crosshatch pattern
  • 4 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 c Kalamata or other black brined and cured olives, rinsed, pitted
  • 1 T capers, rinsed
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • Salt to taste (it will depend on how salty your olives are)


  1. Rub the scored eggplant with some of the olive oil and place cut-side down on a baking sheet. Bake at 375 until fork tender. This will take (~30 minutes for medium sized eggplants or up to 50 minutes for large ones.
  2. Once the eggplant has cooled off, use a spoon to scoop out the flesh, discarding the skins.
  3. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. It should be a thick but spreadable consistency.
  4. Season with salt to taste.
Kalamata Olive Tapenade
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