This vegan tapenade is bursting with flavour and takes less than 5 minutes to make with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry! Unlike traditional olive tapenade, this vegan dip recipe omits the anchovies in favour of sweet sun-dried tomatoes and marinated peppers to temper the saltiness of the olives and give a more balanced flavour. Almonds add protein and a little crunch, and rosemary ties it all together with heady aromatics. If you are entertaining non-vegan guests and trying to win them over with plant-based food, this dip will certainly start the meal off in the right way!
This is a wonderful recipe for entertaining because it is so quick to make, waits patiently to be served without deteriorating over time and it is universally adored! I have made this for so many dinner parties and everyone raves about it!
Why You Will Love This Sundried Tomato Tapenade Recipe!
- Utterly delicious – salty, sweet, and plenty of umami from the sundried tomatoes!
- Only takes 5 minutes to make;
- Vegan & gluten-free;
- Good shelf life, lasting a week or more in the fridge;
- Great for easy entertaining – serve with crudites and crackers as part of a graze board;
- Great to keep in the fridge as a sandwich spread for quick and easy lunches or suppers.
What is Tapenade?
According to the great French cooking bible, “Larousse Gastronomique” (that is so large and comprehensive that it lives under my laptop to lift the screen up to eye height), tapenade is:
“a condiment from Provence, made with capers (from Toulon), desalted anchovies and stoned black (pitted ripe) olives, pounded in a mortar and seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, aromatics and possibly a drop of marc brandy.”Larousse Gastronomique
The word tapenade actually comes from the Provencal word for caper which is “tapeno”, although we normally associate tapenade with the olives that are the main flavour base.
When I think of tapenade, I think of a thick, textured olive spread that is usually incredibly salty. The saltiness comes from its trio of salty ingredients: black olives, capers and anchovies.
With this in mind, I set out to make a vegan tapenade without anchovies and I wanted to temper the saltiness a little bit to make it more palatable for my taste. Adding the sun dried tomatoes and peppers gives a sweetness that balances the saltiness of the olives beautifully. It is a match made in heaven!
The great thing about homemade tapenade is that you can control the ingredients to get the flavour exactly how you like it and ensure that it is vegan! These are the main ingredients:
- Sun-dried tomatoes – For this recipe you need sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil not the dehydrated ones. I often use the jarred sun-blush tomatoes since they are slightly juicier and not as concentrated. However, not everyone can get hold of these and sun-dried tomatoes work really well too.
- Marinated peppers – you need the jarred bell peppers that come in oil (not brine). These are not the main flavour and are included mainly to add some sweetness to balance out the saltiness. You can leave them out if you prefer.
- Black olives – pitting olives is a bit of a labour of love and I never seem to have the time or the patience for it so I use the jars of pitted olives instead. They are not as good quality or as flavoursome as whole olives with the stone in but this recipe has so many strong flavours in it that you can get away with this short cut here! Any black olives will do but if you want a stronger olive flavour then go for kalamata olives. You should taste and check the saltiness before adding any salt in this recipe as different olives have different levels of saltiness.
- Almonds – these add a satisfying crunch and extra protein (as a vegan protein alternative to the anchovies). You need unsalted, raw almonds for this recipe.
- Olive oil – if you are oil-free, you can leave this out and it will still taste delicious. However, I like the richness that the olive oil provides to this tapenade. Use a good quality extra-virgin olive oil if you can or you can even use the oil from the jars of sun-dried tomatoes and marinated peppers (although that is often a blend of oils and will not give such a rich “olivey” flavour as a good extra-virgin olive oil would give).
- Garlic – fresh garlic adds depth of flavour to this tapenade.
- Fresh Rosemary – a small amount of fresh rosemary leaves gives such an interesting twist to this tapenade and you won’t get the same effect from dried. If you can’t find fresh rosemary (or don’t like it), try switching to a different fresh herb instead like basil or thyme.
- Balsamic vinegar – sticking with Mediterranean flavours here, the balsamic vinegar provides much-needed acidity. If you don’t have any, substitute with some lemon juice and perhaps a tiny amount of brown rice syrup for a touch of sweetness.
- Capers (optional - not pictured) - If you want a more salty flavour profile like traditional tapenade, you can include 15g capers. I like using the baby capers so that you don't get the bitter seeds that you find in the bigger capers. These are very salty though and they do give a very strong flavour so use with care!
- Water – tapenade does not usually contain water but I have used it in this recipe for three reasons: 1) to reduce the oil content and make a lighter tapenade, 2) to make the tapenade looser to use as a dip, and 3) to make it really easy to whizz up in the blender. I prefer the softer dip texture rather than traditional tapenade which is thicker and more concentrated. If you prefer the more traditional texture, then by all means leave out the water. It will require a bit more work to whizz in the blender though and you may need to stop and start a few times to scrape down the sides.
Please see the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for full list of ingredients and their quantities.
How To Make This Recipe
It is so easy to make this recipe. All you need is a food processor or a blender. Throw everything in, whizz it all up to your desired consistency and serve at room temperature!
Ta-da! Now that’s my kind of entertaining!
This is a summary only. Please see the printable recipe card at the bottom of this page for full detailed instructions. Thermomix instructions are also included in the recipe card.
- Pulsing rather than whizzing for a long time will help you to get the texture you desire. I like a more rustic texture that is a little bit smooth but a little bit chunky so you still get all the flavours and textures coming through individually as you eat it.
- You will need to stop blending a few times to scrape down the sides with a spatula. You can also use a tamper if you have one for your blender. That will help to keep pushing the ingredients down onto the blades. This is especially the case if you choose not to add water because the added water makes it swish around a bit more easily!
For easy entertaining, I love to serve this delicious dip as an appetizer or as part of a vegan graze board for serving with drinks before the meal. For an easy graze board, serve this olive and sundried tomato tapenade as a dip with:
- Vegetable crudites for dipping – I like to use carrot sticks, bell peppers (capsicum), and cucumber sticks or chicory (endive) or radicchio leaves;
- Crackers, seed crackers, gluten-free pita bread and/or crisps;
- A bowl of olives;
- A bowl of nuts;
- One other dip – I usually go for hummus or muhummara or guacamole which are all well-liked.
You could also serve it alongside other fancier canapes like these chicory canapes or use this black olive tapenade instead of the green olive tapenade in these artichoke tapenade canapes.
Aside from entertaining, you can also use this vegan tapenade for other uses like stirring through pasta for a quick midweek meal, or spread on toast (think of it like a sundried tomato and olive spread) with some salad for lunch, or as part of a buddha bowl or dolloped onto baked potatoes. It is so delicious it goes with everything!
I like including a small amount of marinated peppers in this vegan tapenade dip because their sweetness counter-balances the saltiness of the other ingredients in the tapenade. However, if you prefer, you can leave out the marinated peppers.
Likewise, you could leave out the almonds or switch up the herbs. I love this slightly more unusual combination with the rosemary but it would also work well with the classics like fresh basil or perhaps some fresh thyme instead.
Store this olive and sun-dried tomato tapenade in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. It is best served at room temperature if serving with crudites but can be used straight from the fridge if spread on hot toast!
Not normally. Tapenade traditionally contains anchovies which are fish and are therefore not vegan. However, this delicious black olive and sundried tomato tapenade recipe omits the anchovies and is therefore totally plant-based and vegan friendly!
Being vegetable-based, this tapenade recipe contains plenty of antioxidants like vitamins A and C as well as fibre, and, being plant-based, although high in oils, they are the "good" unsaturated fats rather than "bad" saturated fats. However, it is also quite high in sodium but this is countered by its high potassium content since potassium and sodium work to balance each other in the body.
About a week in the fridge.
There are so many ways to use this sundried tomato tapenade! Traditionally it is spread on toast or crostini and eaten as an appetiser. You could use it like this or as part of a graze board with vegetable crudites or crackers to dip into it. You could also use it as a sauce stirred into pasta, or as vegan topping for baked potatoes or sandwiches, or just keep it in the fridge and have it spread on rice crackers or corn crackers for a delicious and healthy mid-afternoon snack!
📖 Recipe 📖
Black Olive and Sun-dried Tomato Tapenade (Vegan Dip)
- 160 g sundried tomatoes marinated in olive oil, drained and roughly chopped
- 160 g black olives, pitted and drained
- 80 g bell peppers marinated in olive oil, drained and roughly chopped
- 60 g almonds, roughly chopped
- 50 g extra-virgin olive oil
- 15 g baby capers, (optional)
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 sprig rosemary, leaves only
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 grind black pepper
- ¼ cup water
- Put all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until fairly smooth but still with some texture.
- Put all the ingredients in the Thermomix jug. Put the lid on, set to 30 seconds / sp. 6. Then scrape down the sides with a spatula and set again to 30 seconds / sp. 6.
- Make sure to pulse in the blender or food processor of, if you have a blender with variable speeds, you can blend at a medium speed not high speed. This enables you to choose the texture you want rather than whizzing it all to a smooth pulp. The texture adds to the experience because it provides bursts of different flavours while you eat!
- You may need to use a tamper to push the ingredients down onto the blades or stop blending a few times to scrape down the sides with a spatula to ensure even blending. (This is especially so if you choose to omit the water.)
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a ⭐ star rating ⭐ on the recipe card!
If you like this vegan black olive and sun-dried tomato tapenade recipe, you may like these other delicious vegan and gluten-free dips and appetizers too:
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