Green Olive and Almond Tapenade

green olive tapenade tastefood

Posted by Lynda Balslev

This is a recipe in my Almond book. I prepared this tapenade for each of the book signings I went to, and it was very popular. And now that it’s the official start to summer, I share this recipe with you. Salty, nutty, and seriously addictive, this tapenade is a perfect summer appetizer, spooned over bread or crostini. It’s also a great condiment, sprinkled over pizzas, salads or grilled fish. If you can, enjoy it with a glass of dry rosé for a heavenly pairing.

Green Olive and Almond Tapenade
from Almonds – Recipes, History, Culture (Gibbs Smith 2014)

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

1/2 cup raw almonds, toasted
2 cups pitted green olives
3 anchovies in oil, drained
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the almonds in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to coarsely chop. Add the remaining ingredients and process to a coarse paste. Refrigerate for at least one hour to allow the flavors to develop. The tapenade may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Roasted Sea Bass with Olivada and Tomatoes

Roasted Sea Bass with Olivada and Tomatoes

When it’s summertime, I usually have a jar of olivada in the refrigerator. It’s a briny mixture of olives, pine nuts and garlic – perfect for the heat when we crave salt. Its flavors are sharpest when the olivada is freshly made, and we enjoy it simply slathered on bread or crostini with a chilled glass of rosé. The longer the olivada sits in the refrigerator, its flavors mellow and soften, losing some of its pungency.  Then I will toss it with pasta or sprinkle it in salads or over pizza. It’s also a handy garnish for meats and fish. I used the last bit of our latest batch of olivada on these sea bass filets. The salty olives and crunchy pine nuts were a perfect accompaniment to the flaky olive oil roasted fish filets and sweet tomatoes.

Roasted Sea Bass with Olivada and Tomatoes 

Halibut or swordfish may be substituted for the sea bass. Serves 4.

4 one-inch thick sea bass filets, about 2 pounds
1 cup grape tomatoes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup olivada
Juice of 1 lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt
Fresh parsley or pea tendrils as garnish

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Arrange fish filets in one layer in a baking dish. Scatter the tomatoes around the filets. Drizzle fish and tomatoes with olive oil, turning the filets to coat. Spread the olivada over the tops of the filets. Squeeze the lemon juice over the fish and tomatoes. Sprinkle with pepper and a little salt (the olivada will also add salt). Bake in oven until fish is just cooked through, 25 to 30  minutes. Remove from oven. Serve hot garnished with parsley.



~ Olivada ~

Got heat? Try this recipe for Olivada. When the weather is bleeping hot outside, and it’s too stifling to move, this salty, briny, more-ish concoction hits the spot.  Similar to a tapenade but much more simple, the star of this recipe is olives – 3 kinds, in fact.  I choose a variety of olives to balance their intensity and flavor and blitz them with toasted pinenuts and garlic. The flavors are sharp, inky, salty and addictive. While you may not have the energy to move in this heat, this recipe promises to get your taste buds dancing.


Make a double batch to keep on hand in the refrigerator for easy use. Serve with baguette slices or crostini. Add spoonfuls to pasta dishes and salads, or sprinkle over pizza and roasted vegetables. Makes about 2 cups.

1 cup oil-cured olives, about 5 ounces, pitted
1 cup pitted kalamata olives, about 4 ounces
1 cup pitted green olives, such as Cavelstrano, about 4 ounces
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted golden
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all of the ingredients together in a bowl of a food processor. Pulse to finely chop to desired consistency. Do not over process or the olivada will become a paste. Transfer to a glass jar or container with a lid. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours to let the flavors develop. The olivada will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. (The flavors will diminish over time.)

More Salt, Please

More Salt, Please

Not to repeat myself, but once again we are experiencing a heatwave (100 F.)  One of the nicer aspects of our house is that it has lovely floor-to-ceiling glass windows and skylights – everywhere.  Coming from the dark of Scandinavia this was a huge plus.  Lots of light and sunshine all the time, California-style.  Well, right now I feel as though I am living in a microwave.  And suddenly, shady rooms, cooler temperatures and even cloudy skiesseem very appealing.

When it gets this hot I crave salt.  In any form.  In fact, if there were a salt tablet lying about I would consider sucking it.  Foods I survive on in this heat are olives, sliced tomato with sea salt, more olives, the occasional potato chip and more olives.  I keep a bowl of sea salt out on the kitchen counter and every time I pass the bowl I grab a flake or two and pop them in my mouth.   My favorite sea salt is Maldon, an English sea salt that has a wonderful mellow flavor and packs the right salty punch.

This olivada recipe I share with you is a long time favorite that I have made for many years.  You can try fiddling with the combination of olives to your taste*. I use three kinds, and have adapted them as we have moved from country to country and available ingredients have varied.  It is something that can be prepared and kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.  After the fourth day (if there is any left) toss the left-overs with freshly cooked pasta, chopped tomatoes, fresh basil leaves and buffalo mozzarella for a delicious room-temperature pasta salad.


Makes about 3 cups

1 can or jar pitted green olives, drained
1 can or jar pitted black olives, drained
1 jar Provençal-style olives, pitted (these are the very black, wrinkled olives, often tossed with herbes de provence.)
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted golden brown
2-3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place all of the ingredients in bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until well chopped.
(Try not to over-mix or the olivada will be too mushy.)
Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate at least one hour.
Serve with sliced baguette or crostini.
Olivada will keep up to 4 days in the refrigerator.

*As you experiment with different olives, adjust for a mixture of mild, sharp, bitter and salt to give an overall balanced flavor to the olivada.