Olive Tapenade

Posted by on Jul 19, 2012 in featured, Recipes, Sides and salads | 7 comments

Olive Tapenade

There’s no doubt that onion and garlic add significant flavour to many dishes.  I used to love a pizza with some caramelised onion, fresh thyme and goat’s cheese.  But now on the low FODMAP diet there are times when the absence of these two kitchen staples leaves a noticeable hole in the flavour of my dishes.  I have had to get a bit more creative in how I fill that flavour gap…

A few nights back we had a nicely slow-cooked Italian beef stew.  With a busy afternoon ahead of me I had organised the meal early in the day, browning diced beef in some garlic infused oil and setting it to cook in my slow cooker with tomatoes, vegies and herbs.  Without the concern of FODMAPs, I am sure most people would start such a dish sautéing a diced onion with a clove or two of garlic, just as I used to.  Come dinner time the beef was tender and the herbs had infused the sauce, but there was definitely something missing.  G reached for the salt grinder, which doesn’t usually come to our table.  I didn’t think it needed more salt, just flavour.  I remembered a small jar that was sitting in the door of our fridge that held just little bit of olive tapenade left from a trip to the High Country in Victoria.  I spooned some into my bowl and swirled it through my dinner.  The tapenade didn’t leave a pronounced olive flavour but somehow added the depth I was craving.



Tapenade is French in origin and made with a base of olives, usually black, and varying amounts of capers, anchovies, herbs, mustard, lemon juice and vinegar.  I have also seen a recipe where tuna is added to the mix.  It is one of those simple recipes that you can play around with to get the flavour just right for you.  Tapenade can be served as a dip, mixed with some mayonnaise or cream cheese, spread on a pizza or in a sandwich, or, as I did last week, mixed into a winter stew; the possibilities are endless.



Tonight I spread some of my fresh batch of tapenade thinly over lamb leg steaks that I had pounded until ½cm thick.  I made fresh spelt breadcrumbs and pressed these into the tapenade.  The lamb cooked quickly in a hot fry pan and made a flavourful dinner served with roasted potatoes, salad and a lemon wedge on the side.

How do you add flavour to your cooking?


Olive Tapenade


I know some people don’t like anchovies and I don’t go for them on my pizza, but do give them a try in this tapenade.  Start with 1 anchovy fillet and taste before adding more to suit your liking.  Feel free to leave them out if you follow a vegetarian diet.

1 heaped cup pitted olives
½ cup flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon capers
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1-3 anchovy fillets (optional)
1 teaspoon garlic infused olive oil
1 teaspoon virgin olive oil

Blend all ingredients until almost smooth or pound with a pestle and mortar.  If you prefer, leave a bit more chunky.

Store in the fridge in an airtight container or jar covered with a thin layer of virgin olive oil.


Note: Information about FODMAP content in olives is not yet available.





  1. Yay another dish to try, thanks Natalie. Condiments and dips are some of the things I miss most.

    I have recently been adding flavour to my Asian dishes by using a tablespoon of almond butter. Adds a nutty richness and rounds off the other sharp flavours beautifully.

    Tonight will be my first onion-free salsa (was a salsa fanatic before – both red and green) to serve with my LF turkey tacos. Can’t wait!

  2. I have been missing coleslaw. Loved it with my fish & chips…pastrami sandwiches. Got an inspiration and gave it a try. Used my mandolin and shredded zucchini and yellow squash (just to the seeded portion), threw in some shredded carrot…and put on the coleslaw dressing. So good..I think even better than cabbage slaw! Have not tried it on a Rueben sandwich yet… Yes – we do have to think outside the box and make food to fit us…but is so much more satisfying, when not followed by ‘complications’!!! And, my non-Fodmap friends love it, as well!

    • Well done Jackie. My coleslaw solution has been using Cos lettuce in place of cabbage. It has a nice crisp leaf that stands up well to being dressed. You might like my post on Baked Potatoes with Cos coleslaw.

    • Nice suggestion for cold slaw substitutes. I will certainly try it. Thank you Jackie.

  3. I’ve been experimenting with asafoetida powder, used by Hare Krishnas in place of onion. It does give food a slight onion-y flavour and I add finely chopped celery if I want the crunch of onion as well. It has worked well in pilaf & (corn) couscous dishes.

    • I purchased asafoetida powder at an online spice site. I found it to be quite pungent so I’ve been using it VERY sparingly. I like your idea of adding chopped celery for added chrunch.

  4. Hi Natalie, I’m not a fan of anchovies, but I will try this tapenade anyway. I seem to do OK with olives. I was pleased to see capers in this. I’d been wondering about whether capers were low-fodmap. I’ve added them several times in fish dishes even though I was uncertain if they were safe. Are you aware if they’ve been researched yet?

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