Healthy Heart Tapenade Recipe

The Provence region in southern France is famous for its cuisine. This beautiful and sometimes harsh environment backs up to the sea where fresh seafood can be caught daily, olive tree orchards line the hills and the rocky soil produces what is assuredly some of the most fragrant herbs and spices in the world in an ecoregion called La Garrigue. Rosemary, thyme and savory all call this place home.

I went crazy for tapenades while I was in France this spring.

Tapenades are a staple hors d’oeuvres or snack. The basic ingredients are olives, olive oil, garlic, capers, anchovies and lots of herbs. This is whipped up into a spread and can be enjoyed on bread, crackers, meats and veggies.

One day while eating our latest tapenade find, my mother-in-law asked me if tapenades were good for the heart. I hadn’t really considered that as, up until that moment, I had simply been eating them out of pleasure. I picked up the jar to look at the ingredients and it dawned on me that this mixture wasn’t just good for the heart. It was like a superfood for the heart!

I knew I would be making our own tapenades when we got back to our little cabin in the woods and I am excited to share this with you too.

But before we get to the tapenade recipe, let’s take a closer look at the amazing benefits of these ingredients for heart health as well as cancer prevention.

Olive Oil

Olives and Olive Oil

Olives and their oil have long been a staple of the human diet in the Mediterranean region. The Mediterranean diet, which is famously high in olive oil, has been shown in numerous studies to dramatically support heart health and reduce risks of heart attack or stroke.

Here’s a review of some of the findings.

Olive oil and the Mediterranean diet supports healthy cholesterol by reducing oxidative damage to LDL particles; it reduces risks of periphery artery disease, decreases high blood pressure  and reduces inflammation associated with cardiovascular disease. That is some mega heart-health benefit!

Greeks are the highest consumers of olive oil worldwide and they also have a significantly lower risk for heart disease. It’s estimated that Greek people consume an average of 24 liters (roughly 6 gallons) of olive oil a year!

My husband and I do roughly the same amount. Every fall we order 10 gallons of olive oil from a family farm in California. The olive oil is shipped in February just as we are finishing up the last year’s batch.

When buying olive oil you want to get extra virgin olive oil from a very reputable source. The better your olive oil the better your tapenade will taste and the better it will be for your health! Store your olive oil away from heat and light.

Recently olive oil fraud has made the headlines. An astonishing amount of extra virgin olive oil has been adulterated with cheaper forms of olive oil. Buying it directly from farmers in California can ensure you are getting the best olive oil for your family.

When choosing olives for your tapenade you also want to get high quality olives. I would avoid the black canned olives that most in the U.S. are used to eating. Instead, look for niçoise olives or green olives. Save yourself a lot of time by buying pitted olives. When I make this recipe I use 1 cup of niçoise olives and 1 cup of green olives.

Garlic

Garlic

If garlic is famous for one thing then it may be for causing bad breath.

But number one on its list of attributes is its affinity for heart health. Numerous studies have shown garlic to support healthy cholesterol levels, reduce blood clots and reduce hypertension.

Anchovies

Anchovies

Honestly, I used to think anchovies were a joke. I’m not kidding. My only reference to them were a smelly ingredient on Michelangelo’s pizza (yes I am referring to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). One day when ordering pizza my husband suggested we get anchovies and I laughed. He wasn’t kidding.

Now I am an anchovy convert. If you already love anchovies you know what I mean. If you don’t love anchovies I hope you’ll give them a try. Anchovies basically taste salty. There’s not much to dislike (unless you don’t like salty things).

Anchovies are an amazing source of omega 3 oils, which are essential to heart health. They are also packed with calcium and magnesium, which can support healthy bones as well as the heart. Many people take fish oil supplements to support their heart health but getting it straight from the source is always better. Anchovies are one of the best ways to do this.

For this recipe, I buy anchovies in jars that have been preserved in olive oil.

Roasted tomatoes

Roasted Tomatoes

Tomatoes keep grabbing the headlines due to numerous studies showing that these high lycopene foods can prevent various types of cancer, notably prostate cancer. To get the most cancer prevention properties from these fruits they need to be well cooked. For this recipe, I use roasted tomatoes that are preserved in olive oil. You can make these yourself or buy them at the store.

RosemaryThyme

Rosemary and Thyme

Most people think of lavender when they think of an herbal Provence, but I think of all that rosemary and thyme growing abundantly in that rocky dry soil. Rosemary has been especially lauded for its ability to support heart health and to decrease excessive inflammation in the body. It’s also been shown to support mental health and reduce risks of Alzheimer’s disease.

Tapanade

Rosemary Tapenade Recipe

This tapenade recipe is one of thousands of variations. The result is a savory and salty spread that can be served before the meal or alongside it. When consumed regularly this tapenade can support a healthy heart and cardiovascular system. This yields 1.5 cups.

What you’ll need…

  • 2 cups of olives (see notes above on what kinds of olives to use)
  • 1 Tablespoon capers
  • 2 anchovy filets
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/8 cup roasted tomatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons minced fresh rosemary and thyme
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil (roughly)

Assemble all of the ingredients with the exception of the olive oil and place them in a food processor or blender. Process until throughly mixed and the olives are broken into small, but definable chunks.

Tapanade

Slowly add the olive oil. It’s easy to over do it with the olive oil. It won’t be disastrous if you add too much; your mixture will just have excess oil around the edges.

Tapanade

Voila! Simple as that. You can serve this with bread, crackers, or even on veggies or meats. It will keep in the fridge for about a week.

Enjoy!

Which herbs & remedies should you always stock in your kitchen?

53 comments
  1. This looks amazing! Anyone making it for your Holiday parties?

    • Hi John,

      I live in Greece and I live on tapenade! Great recipe you posted.

      And yes, I’d say 24 liters per person is about right. Every year I buy about 100 liters for our family of four.

      Congratulations on all the good work you are doing!

      • Thanks Demetra!

  2. How do you find a reputable farm for olive oil?

    • You could google for an olive oil farm in CA. I would prefer a farm that is small, family owned, organic or otherwise not using harmful chemicals. I buy mine from Chaffin Family Orchards. I am sure there are other great sources out there as well.

  3. Definitely want to try this! Love to fool doctors by showing them my heart can get better with foods!

  4. Can’t wait to make it!
    Can you share from where you purchase your olive oil?

    • I buy mine from Chaffin Family Orchards. I am sure there are other great sources out there as well.

  5. Wonderful! I love tapenade. Good to have healthy excuses to celebrate that love. As Rebecca asked, any good suggestions for reputable farms form which we can order? Thanks!

    • You could google for an olive oil farm in CA. I would prefer a farm that is small, family owned, organic or otherwise not using harmful chemicals. I buy mine from Chaffin Family Orchards. I am sure there are other great sources out there as well.

  6. Thanks so much for the info
    Cannt wait to try it

    • Awesome!

  7. How do you find a farm for the olive oil in California? Thanks for you help!

    • You could google for an olive oil farm in CA. I would prefer a farm that is small, family owned, organic or otherwise not using harmful chemicals. I buy mine from Chaffin Family Orchards. I am sure there are other great sources out there as well.

      • I like California Olive Ranch which offers unrefined olive oil and organic also. Here in California it is well priced and in most the grocery stores.

      • Sorry, my mistake. I checked their website at californiaoliveranch.com and they do not offer organic at this time.

      • It’s always worth checking with the farm directly to hear what their practices are. Some farms can’t afford an expensive organic certification but have strict standards about what they use.

  8. Anchovies such as those called for in this recipe make my mouth itchy, though I am not allergic/sensitive to anchovies so far as I know… What’s a reasonable substitution for them? (As opposed to having a fish-less tapenade.)

    • Hmmm… I’m really not sure. I would just try it without, though you may want to add some salt depending on your taste preference.

  9. I’m drooling….love an excuse to use anchovies….well, honestly, the sight of them makes me cringe, so I keep anchovy paste in my fridge…easy to find some that is nothing but anchovies and a little oil to make them a puree. thank you…..looks like a great addition to the holiday appetizer list.

    • Umeboshi plum paste might work. Try it. I sometimes use it instead of parmesan cheese in recipes with good results.

  10. Would that be 3 T rosemary AND thyme?? Or – 3 T of each?? thanks….

    • 3 tablespoons of rosemary and thyme. NOT 3 T of each – that may be a bit too strong. :)

  11. Sorry, i was mistaken. California Olive Ranch does not offer organic oil at this time.

  12. This sounds amazing. Food for health indeed!

  13. sounds wondeful, just without the anchovies. Vegetarian here. healthy eating is so wondeful…Work part time as a personal chef for clients with some serious health issues. It has been a creative experience. makes one so in touch with the bodies needs.

  14. Won’t last a week in my house…

  15. Chaffin Family Orchards Olive oil looks amazing! Thanks for that tip! Unfortunately they are sold out for this year…Sad but so impressed by the fact that they say this on their website as it is missing in most debates about organically grown food!
    Quote: “Trees that are propped up on conventional chemical type agriculture don’t have to struggle to the same degree against the elements and therefore are likely to produce fewer antioxidants and polyphenols.”
    Love it and love the recipe too! Thanks so much!

  16. Are sardines good? I eat lots of them at least 2 cans a day

  17. Looks so good. I wanted to print it so I could take it to my kitchen and make it, but it is 12 pages long. A printable version would be fantastic.

    • You could cut and paste just the recipe into a word document to print it.

  18. Can this be frozen?

  19. I make that tapenade on a regular basis, just without the tomatoes. Looking forward to trying the variation. Regarding the oil, i’ve also heard that it’s a good idea to look for cold pressed, since it looses a lot of its qualities when heated and it definitely gets hot when pressed. That’s also a good reason to use other fats for cooking, and brilliant to ingest olive oil in recipes like this one! Also might be good to look for first pressed if you are not buying organic oil, since they use chemicals to get the most of the olives after the first press. And if you are really interested in diet, might want to have a look at the book “Nourishing Traditions”. Some of your beliefs about the relationship between fat and heart disease might be deeply and healthily questioned.

  20. I’ll be making this tomorrow! Can’t wait to check into a source of good olive oil. Thank you so much for this!

  21. This looks great for upcoming Christmas parties. Oh course I better make a sample batch first ;)

  22. Keeps a week? I think it’d keep for a month or more (in the fridge or a similarly-cold place). I know I’ve kept other tapenades that long.

  23. really this is a precious gift, it would be great if was demonstration link with this. anyway I am thankful to receive this from your side.

  24. One can add some fermentation cultures & let it sit out 8hrs before refridgeration to extend tapanade’s shelf life a couple months. Even a dash of raw apple cider vinegar will preserve it several weeks longer. Did I mention fermentation increases nitrient content? Enjoy

  25. Can’t wait to try it! Certainly telling my patients about it for Holiday gatherings!
    I practice Acupuncture and TCM…if love brochures to advertise your products, or contact me for wholesale pricing?
    SJS
    RN MSN L.Ac. Dip. NCCAOM

    • Hey there! Thanks! You can simply lead people to our site, as we don’t have printed materials for our products.

  26. I would love this, but what can I use as a sub for the anchovies? I am very allergic to fish.

    • I would just leave them out. You may want to add some salt, but give it a taste first and see what you think.

  27. Anchovies, olives, and capers? Sounds delicious but extremely salty. I would worry about ingesting so much salt for someone with high blood pressure.

  28. Sounds great… is there a good way to print just the article without ads, comments, etc?

    • Hi Susan, We are still working on an easy print option. We hope to have this feature available soon. For now you could copy and paste into a word processing document and print from there.

  29. Tuna (yes- I do use a good quality canned) with black Kalamata olives, lemon juice/rind, rosemary, thyme and some fresh ground black pepper! If I had fresh tuna I’d cook it on the grill and add a Tapenade of black olives with herbs and capers and lemon wedges and curled lemon rind garnish!

  30. i would love to try it but i don’t eat tomatoes nor garlic. the tomatoes effect my joints since i had lyme disease twice and garlic lowers my blood pressure so low it makes me dizzy. so i guess with these two left out it wouldn’t be so good, right?

    • I’d give it a try without those ingredients.

  31. Hi Roselee, Could you please tell me where you get your olive oil and the brand.

    • I buy mine from Chaffin Family Orchards but have recently learned that they are already sold out for the next year. You could google to find another farm in CA – there are many!

  32. How about a recipe for roasted tomatoes preserved in olive oil for those of us who need the help?

    • I just buy mine at the store. I am sure you could google a recipe for that though.

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