No Recipe Cooking: Kalamata Olive Tapenade

Kalamata Olive Tapenade on Foodie Underground

Let’s have a little chat about recipes.

I love recipes. I love looking through cookbooks to find new recipes. I write books with recipes. But 90% of the time that I am cooking, I don’t have a recipe in front of me. And even if I start out with a recipe, it’s rare that I follow it all the way through. I tend to veer from the main drag quite early on.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, mostly in relation to Foodie Underground. This is a site about food, and it’s a site to inspire you to eat better, and hopefully, it’s a site that acts as a resource, because it’s my belief that we should all be eating more real food.

But in the world of food blogs where plates of food are shot with special lighting and white paper backdrops and stylized twine, sometimes I get overwhelmed, and even annoyed.

I just want to eat. I am pretty sure that you do too.

I enjoy maintaining Foodie Underground because the point is to share and inspire. And let’s be honest, I want to share most things that I make with you. But then comes this problem of recipes. If I throw together a salad, and it ends up being delicious, that doesn’t mean that I have kept exact track of what’s in it and I certainly haven’t meticulously taken photos of every single step of the process, which in the end makes me feel a little self conscious.

It shouldn’t.

The beauty in food is that you don’t always need recipes. If you have the basics down (chopping, sautéing, pairing flavors) you can taste your way to a good dish. After all, a good recipe is only as good as its ingredients, which means that if you start with quality food, you’re already on your way to success.

Which is why I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a few No Recipe Cooking posts. It’s something I’ve started over on the Foodie Underground Instagram feed. Why? Because sometimes you don’t need a recipe, you just need inspiration.

Which brings me to this olive tapenade.

At the market last weekend I broke down and bought a ton of Kalamata olives. They sat floating in their oily bed of goodness and I couldn’t wait to use them. They were amazing on their own, but I knew they would also make a good tapenade.

Olive tapenade is something that I love making, because it’s as simple as throwing a bunch of ingredients in the food processor, and in fact, if you are using good quality ingredients, you don’t need very many of them.

Olive tapenade is also the perfect addition to a summer picnic menu. Use it as a dip, spread it on bread, serve it with almond crackers and a glass of rosé, eat it by the spoonful. In need of a quick lunch yesterday, it even got thrown on top of some steamed green beans and topped with chopped nuts. See, No Recipe Cooking in action.

But now that I’ve chatted up all this No Recipe Cooking, I’m at least going to provide you with a little direction. Because while this isn’t a recipe, it’s a recommendation for olive to sun-dried tomato ratio. But you could also use roasted red peppers if you wanted to. And you you can scale this recipe as you see fit, as well as using it for a base for adding in other spices and herbs. The options really are endless. Remember though, the quality of the tapenade is in the quality of the ingredients: buy good olives.

Kalamata Olive Tapenade on Foodie Underground

Kalamata Olive Tapenade


1 part sun-dried tomatoes

2 parts kalamata olives

Fresh basil leaves


Put all ingredients in a food processor, and mix until you get desired consistency. You may want to add in a little olive oil, depending on how oily your olives were to begin with. And if you feel like a dash of pepper, go for it.

See, wasn’t that easy? Real food, no real recipe. Like I always say: just eat.


Comments 1

  1. ellensue spicer-jacobson

    My sentiments exactly! I sometimes just give a list of optional ingredients with general directions.
    Inspiration is the key word.
    Thanx, ellensue

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