Artichoke Tapenade

by on April 22, 2009
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Artichoke TapenadeWhen D and I got married, 13 years ago next month, we did the catering for our wedding ourselves. Now before you go and get all impressed, I have to point out that it was a small wedding, around 45 close friends and family members, and the menu consisted of finger foods and pasta salad. Neither of us enjoys being the center of attention or puts much stock in ceremonies, so we opted to keep it simple and do it, mostly, ourselves. We spent the weeks before the wedding testing recipes and the final few days preparing dips, spreads, crudites, fresh fruit, and pasta salad, with some chopping assistance from the family members who had arrived in town early. The only thing we didn’t make was the wedding cake: My sister flew halfway across the country with a vegan carrot cake, purchased at a bakery in Austin, Texas, balanced precariously on her lap. She had a toddler in tow, and it’s a wonder the cake made it in one piece, but it did, and we had it decorated by a local Columbia, South Carolina, baker who agreed to use soymilk and margarine in the icing.

So that’s the story of my self-catered wedding. It wasn’t huge or fancy, but it’s at the outer limit of what I would recommend that any bride and groom take on, unless they’re professional caterers or just plain crazy. While I enjoyed feeding my family and friends and felt comfortable knowing that everything was truly vegan, I’m sure I would have had a more stress-free time if I hadn’t been fussing over the food.

Artichoke Tapenade

The reason I mention any of this is that one dish emerged from our wedding as the guests’ favorite, a calamata olive, caper, and pinenut spread called tapenade. For months after the wedding, I got requests to bring “my” tapenade (which was actually a Moosewood recipe) to every party we attended. Unfortunately, it’s a fairly expensive recipe to make, especially back then when kalamata olives and pinenuts weren’t as easy to find as they are now, and after a while we had to find a less rich—in both senses of the word—dish to contribute. Tapenade is still one of my favorite party foods, and if each teaspoon didn’t have 40 trillion grams of fat in it, I would indulge in it more often. (Okay, I exaggerate, but not by much.)

So I was intrigued when I started seeing recipes for tapenades that looked to be lighter and healthier than my old favorite. Last year a couple of magazines (I think Gourmet and Vegetarian Times, but I’m not certain) published recipes using artichokes with green olives to make tapenade, and I thought they sounded interesting. But I’m sort of stuck in my ways, and to me tapenade will always mean a kalamata olive-based spread, so I decided to try a little experiment and substitute canned artichoke bottoms for the pinenuts and most of the olives in my (Moosewood’s) recipe.

The result was different, definitely not as rich or heavy but still tasty. The texture is coarser, curiously resembling tabouli or kasha, but it has a complex flavor that isn’t overwhelmingly olivey. I’m sure that fresh artichokes would make it taste much better (canned ones have citric acid added, which makes them tarter), but then the recipe wouldn’t be Ridiculously Easy anymore. Also, if you’re not concerned about fat content, a quarter cup of pinenuts would probably push this recipe closer to the mouthwatering ecstasy of the original…with something less than 40 trillion fat grams per teaspoon.

Artichoke Tapenade

Artichoke Tapenade

(printer-friendly version)

I used artichoke bottoms because I like their denser texture for this, but artichoke hearts will also work.


  • 1 14-ounce can artichoke bottoms, drained and rinsed well (or 8 ounces fresh artichoke hearts)
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 1/2 ounces kalamata olives (about 3 tbsp. pitted, halved olives)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice (optional; use more for fresh artichokes)


  1. Put all ingredients except lemon juice into food processor. Process, stopping to scrape down sides a couple of times, until everything is finely chopped. Taste and add lemon or lime juice, if needed. Refrigerate and allow flavors to blend for at least an hour before serving. (It’s even better if you let it rest overnight and bring to room temperature before eating.) Spread on good bread or crackers.

Cooking time (duration): 0 hour(s), 10 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 4

Makes 4 servings or about 20 tablespoons. Per tablespoon: 9 Calories (kcal); .5g Total Fat; (56% calories from fat); trace Protein; 1g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 82mg Sodium; trace Fiber.

One-fourth of recipe contains: 47 Calories (kcal); 3g Total Fat; (56% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 4g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 412mg Sodium; 1g Fiber. Weight Watchers 1 Point.

Copyright © Susan Voisin 2011. All rights reserved. Please do not repost recipes or photos to other websites.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 SusanV August 4, 2009 at 10:29 am

Here are the comments posted before the blog moved:

emmyster said…

This sounds way too easy.. a college student’s dream recipe.

Think I’ll be trying this soon, thanks Susan!


11:18 AM, April 22, 2009
Tina said…

It’s like you read my mind. I just bought a large jar of artichoke hearts for pizza and was wondering what to do with the leftovers. My partner hates capers, will it still be good w/o? Or does anyone know of a good sub?

11:26 AM, April 22, 2009
Maria said…

I wish I had this as a snack right now! We did our own catering too. It was SO fun! We had a big wedding, but it was fun. I did all of the baking for my cookie/candy station, everyone told me I was crazy, but it was SO fun for me!

11:41 AM, April 22, 2009
The Voracious Vegan said…

This is a fabulous recipe, thank you so much!

And wow, congrats for catering your own wedding. That is truly amazing!

12:07 PM, April 22, 2009
Sarah Tormey said…

Thanks for another enticing recipe! I’ve been following (and preparing your recipes for years) and recently featured your blog on my own.

Can’t wait to try this one, although today I must say I’m in the mood for your delicious mac and “cheese.”

12:22 PM, April 22, 2009
Adrienne said…

I’ve just been looking around for things to do with capers, and this looks fabulous!

12:26 PM, April 22, 2009
dreaminitvegan said…

This looks wonderful! Sundried tomatoes would be a nice addition in that as well. I’m impressed you catered your own wedding, even though it was small that would be a lot of work.

12:30 PM, April 22, 2009
KathyF said…

I’ve made that Moosewood recipe many times, in fact, many of my basic recipes come from Moosewood–baba ganouj, tabouli, etc.

I also had the same thinking when it came to my wedding, which is why we eloped and told everyone much later. My “wedding” cost ten bucks at the Ruston City Courthouse.

12:40 PM, April 22, 2009
Mery Hill said…

It is a good recipe, fast, and easy to prepare, but after all too delicious, we can prepare it whenever along the day.

12:45 PM, April 22, 2009
Elyse said…

Mmm, this tampenade looks delicious!! I loved hearing about your self-catered wedding. Super imrpessive!! I’m so glad that this tampenade can bring back some wonderful memories for you. Happy almost anniversary!

12:45 PM, April 22, 2009
Veganissexy said…

This looks fantastic Susan! I love whipping up easy, yet impressive looking dips for parties. This is so low cal you could practically eat the whole batch! I be it would be great as a sandwich spread or in a veggie wrap! Yum!

1:10 PM, April 22, 2009
Macie said…

Awesome! My fiance and I are getting married this October and we’re *kinda* doing the food ourselves (buying some things and making others — light finger foods). We were JUST talking about how we need to include our favorite olivey treat – tapanade!

1:52 PM, April 22, 2009
Pearl said…

thank you for sharing that recipe, and a little story on your life!

2:16 PM, April 22, 2009
A_and_N said…

First of all, catering for 45 ppl is no small matter! Hats off to you guys!

And this tapenade sounds simple and yet fancy 😉

2:32 PM, April 22, 2009
Courtney said…

Happy anniversary! Artichokes are hands down my favorite food, so I will be trying this soon–thank you!


4:53 PM, April 22, 2009
Bianca said…

Ooh, I love tapenade! I’m so gonna have to try this recipe. I love the story about your sister balancing a vegan carrot cake on her lap on the plane!

5:04 PM, April 22, 2009
Ricki said…

It even looks a bit like kasha! I do enjoy traditional tapenade, but I think I’d love this, too. How cool that you made the food for your wedding! 🙂

8:06 PM, April 22, 2009
moonwatcher said…


this looks pretty tasty! I like the idea someone posted above of using it as a sandwich or wrap spread ingredient, too. And I loved hearing some of the details about your wedding and catering it yourselves. Happy Early Anniversary!

9:09 PM, April 22, 2009
tuki said…

This looks wonderful!

9:35 PM, April 22, 2009
veggievixen said…

hehe artichoke bottoms.

i love artichokes! this looks sweet.

11:04 PM, April 22, 2009
Grey said…

This looks amazing! Thank you, can’t wait to try it.

12:28 AM, April 23, 2009
AB said…

Mmm… I love tapenade! Despite my usual dislike for olives. Anyway, question: I have a huge, ridiculous, silly aversion to capers. Is there any ingredient you’d suggest replacing it with? Shall I omit it all together? Or suck it up and use them or just not make this recipe? 🙂

1:06 AM, April 23, 2009
Phoenix said…

Mmmh! I love artichokes! Thanks, now I’m getting hungry… ;))

3:50 AM, April 23, 2009
miss v said…

tapenade is one of my favourite snacks – if it wasn’t so fatty i’d have it more often. i *love* this recipe and can’t wait to try it!

8:01 AM, April 23, 2009
SusanV said…

Thanks, everybody!

About the capers, if you don’t like them, I would just leave them out. You might add a pinch more basil or lemon juice to boost the flavor. Or someone mentioned sundried tomatoes–I think a little bit finely chopped would be a great complementary taste.

8:21 AM, April 23, 2009
fresh365 said…

Thanks for the recipe! I will be making it this weekend- yumm!

11:17 AM, April 23, 2009
Holler said…

I love tapenade and I am really into artichokes just now! Thank you for the timely recipe 🙂

6:06 PM, April 23, 2009
di_ani said…

This looks wonderful!
Thanks for the recipe!

Some days ago Dimitrana S. has surprised me with a very convenient price, which I did not know before.
Many thanks to you, dear Dimitrana S, but for me this is a great honor and tribute, compliment and laud. Thank you!
Now it´s my turn to use this Inspiration Award! as a sign of my tribute and enthusiasmus to you, and I hand you:


My dear winner, download the award, put on your blog, add pictures link to this post, with an award and still leave the winners notice.

5:22 AM, April 24, 2009
Michelle @ Find Your Balance said…

Much healthier than the cheesy spinach-artichoke dip everyone loves, and I’m sure just as tasty! Great recipe to bring to a summer BBQ when everyone else is serving macaroni salad.

5:15 PM, April 24, 2009
PurpleStick. said…

Mmm, I’m going to have to make this some time soon. I love olive tapenade, and I love artichokes, so this just might be a little taste of heaven for me.
Thanks for the recipe.

9:43 AM, April 25, 2009
Allie said…

I find that raw sunflower seeds work well as a cheap substitute for pine nuts. The roasted ones have a stronger sunflower flavor. I have been making pesto with sunflower seeds for years with great results. No one knows the difference!

6:05 PM, April 25, 2009
Josiane said…

That sounds like a great variation on a classic! A must try, for sure!

7:26 PM, April 25, 2009
Ruth said…

Artichokes, olives, AND capers? My husband will think he’s died and gone to heaven!

10:09 PM, April 25, 2009
Eating Consciously said…

Anything with artichokes is surely to be a winner!

10:28 PM, April 25, 2009
Minneapolis Cheap Eats Examiner said…

Yeah, that looks pretty simple to make. Looks so delicious! Sure beats spraying cheddar cheese on stale chips, that’s for sure.

11:37 PM, April 26, 2009
Daisy said…

Hmm this sounds delicious. A great way to pack loads of flavour in to a meal for relatively little fat and even low carb too… This will definitely be getting a try!

4:26 AM, April 27, 2009
Sylvia said…

This looks delicious! Have you ever tried it with frozen, defrosted artichoke bottoms? Those are much easier to find than the cannned kind..

9:07 AM, April 27, 2009
Steph (I am Bee) said…

that looks delicious! (although i don’t like capers or olives, hahah)

9:51 AM, April 27, 2009
Susan from Food Blogga said…

I always make olive tapenade, but artichokes are my favorite. So this sounds perfect.

10:05 AM, April 27, 2009
Pavithra said…

Good recipe …I am gonna try it.Nice blog

6:24 PM, April 27, 2009
asha said…

I have a very practical question that I cannot seem to find the answer to myself..

How do you get your photos on your blog to be “unclickable”? You have the nice large sized photos, but no one can click through to a larger size. I would love to know the secret. heh.

Thank you kindly in advance!

6:19 AM, April 28, 2009
SusanV said…

Asha, I resize my photos before I upload them. Then, since my blog is hosted on its own domain, I upload the photos by FTP to the domain. When I write the blog post, I insert the photos into the post using IMG tags in html.

Did that make sense or did it sound like techno-babble? Basically, I don’t use to work with my photos; I do it all myself, to get them exactly the size and position I want them in.

7:32 AM, April 28, 2009
tj said…

yum yum yum!! I’ve made that moosewood recipe (and many others) and love it, but it is *so* expensive; I’ll definitely give this a shot!!! Thanks!

7:50 AM, April 28, 2009
Jim Craig said…

Congrats on the anniversary! The tapenade does sound fantastic. And an interesting story, as well . . . I think the moral is “don’t get married until you can cater the reception yourself.”

12:55 PM, April 29, 2009
Merry in Boston said…

I made this, and it’s great. Thanks!

Also, Whole Foods didn’t have artichoke bottoms, so I bought a can of the hearts. Do the bottoms come canned, or would I have to buy the vegetable fresh to get the bottoms? The salespeople I asked hadn’t heard of artichoke bottoms!

9:39 AM, April 30, 2009
Artichoke Extract said…

Thanks for sharing such innovative recipe. I find artichoke very tasty. It is good for health. It is rich in iodine. It reduces cholesterol and improves blood circulation, it is also helpful for diabetic people.

4:07 AM, June 22, 2009
Anonymous said…

I am going to try making this and puttin it over some pasta to make a pasta salad type dish.

10:51 AM, August 04, 2009


2 Dr. Darla M Birchall, DSc, ND September 5, 2009 at 8:43 am

The funny thing is, I am looking at this recipe to do our own catering for my wedding in 2 weeks. It is so great to meet someone who doesn't think I am insane for doing my own food! We both have a passion for great food so the food & music is really all I care about. It is going to be a big fat Italian wedding so your recipe should go great – Thanks so much for sharing.


3 Weekend Carnivore September 18, 2009 at 7:40 am

Oh, I need to make looks so good.

We pretty much catered our own wedding too with the help of our mothers. We weren't really eating veggie then, so it was burgers and stuff in a back yard BBQ. Way better for us than stressing about stuffy food at silly catering prices.


4 Doll December 14, 2009 at 5:58 am

I made this yesterday and IT IS heaven for the mouth!!
Thank you great!! (happy French vegan who loooooooves artichokes and your blog!! 🙂


5 Karina June 23, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Artichokes in a tapenade- I love it! A delicious start to a new life together. Brilliant.


6 Azahara December 24, 2010 at 5:28 pm

Delicious! I served this with German bread mini crackers and my family and guests loved it. I have a doubt, though. I was wondering whether it would be safe to use the leftovers for New Year’s Eve. Do you think it’ll keep all those days in the fridge? Or should I freeze it (if at all possible)? An what about red pepper hummus? I made a large batch and would like to finish it off next Friday, too.



7 SusanV December 25, 2010 at 12:08 am

Both will probably keep that long, but I’m not sure that their quality will be as good.


8 Rachael February 4, 2011 at 12:08 pm

WOOOOW i love your website! I found your website while I was overseas, learning to cook, and I stumbled onto your website, LOVED it, and am constantly visiting it to try all of your recipes, a little at a time :). My recipe book, now, consists mostly of your recipes! I love it! haha, anyway, I’m trying to convert my mom to live healthier, and in subtle ways, vegan, and while my mom was trying to find a bread spread yesterday, I found this to be the perfect opportunity for me to show her how good food still is! I’m planning on making this recipe right away, but I dont have kalamata olives. If i bought them, I wouldnt even know if I can freeze it or what recipes to put it in, except for this one, so I was wondering if I can substitute the olives for pinenuts, maybe? Would it taste too different?


9 SusanV February 4, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Thanks! Kalamata olives pack a lot of flavor, and pine nuts, though good, aren’t as flavorful. The great thing about them is they keep forever in the fridge, so if you buy them, you could look for other things to use them in. If you’d rather not take a chance on something you might not like, you could try regular green or black olives. Let me know what you do and how it works out.


10 Michelle B April 23, 2012 at 2:25 pm

I love this! I’ll definitely give it a try, especially after my happy experiment with using artichoke hearts to make a lighter romesco sauce. Our chef friend made some beautiful grilled leeks and asparagus for us last week, and they were served with luscious romesco sauce. It’s the first time I’ve had it, but when I heard about the amounts of nuts and olive oil in that divine sauce, I knew it needed to be a very rare treat. So I blended roasted red peppers with garlic and artichoke hearts, adding just one ounce of almonds for flavor and texture. It worked great. Artichoke hearts are such versatile little gems.


11 Sharon June 8, 2012 at 8:25 am

Well, we thought this sounded really and and it is. It just wasn’t a hit at the non-vegetarian party I took it to last night. The marinated chicken legs were the hit of the night, which meant leftover tapenade for us. I’m adding it to some whole grain pasta for a wonderful pasta salad. Even though the artichoke bottoms were pricey, I now get 2 or more meals from this! Thanks for the recipe Susan!


12 Vegan Radhika SArohia January 19, 2013 at 12:52 am

This looks good, don’t think I’ve ever cooked with artichokes before

“I have been making pesto with sunflower seeds for years with great results. No one knows the difference!”

^ And I’m totally gonna try this!


13 rahrahxer April 24, 2013 at 11:12 am

So good. Don’t know if I can wait for it to sit in the fridge before I dig in!!!


14 Patricia Giannelia November 17, 2016 at 10:41 am

Hi, just to let you know, it is possible to purchase canned artichokes that are not pickled, hence no vinegary element.

I live in Kelowna, BC, which is a relatively small city, so they should be easily found elsewhere.

Thank you so much for your site – my husband has gone fat free vegan in response to hearth disease – with great result – and I appreciate finding tasty and do-able recipes.


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