Savory, salty, umami flavor with fresh herbs and hints of heat and acidity make this easy Mixed Olive Tapenade Crostini with Grilled Bread perfect for a casual game day snack or elegant enough to serve as an appetizer for your special occasion menu!
Tamara Talks (about homemade tapenade)
Do you eat with your eyes like I do? I love the beautiful colors on this plate of Mixed Olive Tapenade Crostini with Grilled Bread! I have seen so many photos of
dull-looking olive tapenade, looking like a grey paste. Many of the recipes in the blogosphere strike me as being "one note." I love layers of flavor, and that is how I've always approached my food.
A good tapenade requires more than just olives. This one includes mixed olives (more colors 😀 ), garlic (roasted please!), shallot, capers, crushed red pepper, zest and juice of a lemon, sherry vinegar, and anchovies. YEP. ANCHOVIES. Love, love, love my anchovies! They bring rich, umami flavor to so many favorite foods - caesar salad, bagna cauda, salad niçoise (or my Tuna Niçoise Sandwich with Aioli, Tapenade, and Soft Egg). When I order food that features anchovies, I frequently hear "ick." How do you respond?
Quality ingredients yield a better tasting tapenade. I frequently go to the olive bar at my local market, and find many different varieties. I fill a tub with different colors, and include a few cloves of roasted garlic (just in case I don't feel like roasting a bulb). I always include some pimento stuffed olives for... color.
So, back to the Mixed Olive Tapenade Crostini with Grilled Bread...
How to Make Olive Tapenade Crostini
- 3 cups mixed pitted olives
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 5 cloves garlic preferably roasted
- 1 small shallot quartered
- 2 whole anchovies or 2 teaspoons paste
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper more or less to taste
- 1 tablespoon fresh herbs thyme, basil, oregano, parsley
- 1 lemon zest and juice
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil as needed
- Make the tapenade - The tapenade involves adding the ingredients to a food processor and pulsing them to the desired consistency. I prefer a mince to a rough chop or a paste.
- Prepare the grilled bread - Slice a baguette, brush lightly with olive oil, then grill it.
- Prepare the crostini - I vary the cheese layer; on photo shoot day, I used fresh mozzarella and chèvre. We definitely preferred the latter, but both were delicious. Try it with your favorite cheese. Layer the cheese on the grilled bread, top with a dollop of tapenade, then garnish with thin-sliced piquillo or roasted red bell peppers, fresh herbs, a thin slice of grilled citrus, additional crushed red pepper... You get the idea!
Tips and FAQ
What kind of olives do you recommend? I start with pitted kalamatas and good green olives. I love to add some oil cured olives, but that usually means pitting the olives. Many markets now have olive bars, and this is a great way to get a variety of olives without buying several jars.
Do I have to use sherry vinegar? I love the smooth, mellow flavor of sherry vinegar. A good quality wine or champagne vinegar will work. Avoid cheap, acidic vinegars.
What cheeses do you recommend? As mentioned in the post, on this day we used fresh mozzarella slices on some, and spread softened chèvre on others. Manchego is another good option. Be adventurous!
Is tapenade healthy? Not really. I'm being transparent. We practice "all things in moderation" at Andersen casa, and this mixed olive tapenade crostini is a treat rather than a regular item on the menu. Olives are high in sodium and fats.
What can I pair with my olive tapenade crostini?
We loved this olive tapenade crostini with Lagunitas Gnarly Wine (beer in the barley wine style). It would also pair well with a white Bordeaux or a viognier...
Do you have anything planned for Game Day (Super Bowl)? Having left our football-loving friends in New Mexico, we'll probably spend a quiet day at home, but a tasty snack (or three) may be in the making!