This won’t come as a surprise at all. Even if you’ve only seen a tiny glimpse of my posts these past few years, you’ll know that I’m a bit obsessed with tapenades. Especially the olive kind. A traditional tapenade (Provencal, I believe) is served as a spread to be slathered on bread, or used to stuff meats with. It consists of blended—or finely chopped if you have the knife skills for it—olives, capers and anchovies.

There are many variations to this: some with tomatoes; others with capers and herbs. But whatever the variation, olives almost always make an appearance. With good reason this, because olives, especially when blended, pack a real umami punch. And with so few other ingredients this is an absolute requirement. I use green and black olives interchangeably based on what I have around, but generally prefer black ones for their more intense flavour.

Tapenades are usually heavy on the oil front. I like to keep it relatively light, and use just enough to help with emulsification and to make it last longer. I make a batch big enough to last a few weeks (a small jar’s worth) and stash it away at the back of the fridge. A little goes a long way with this stuff. They go on grilled meats and in tortillas for quesadillas. My favourite though – a little smear on bread before loading them up with veggies and cheese. It gives new life to your everyday toastie.

I took this tapenade down a pesto route and added almonds to the mix. I also borrowed from the famous Sichuan green beans (my recipe is here) and kept the beans whole; it retains its crunch and eats better this way. For the tapenade, you just pulse together a few dried red chillies, olives, and almonds to a coarse crumble. Olives are salty to begin with so don’t add salt additionally. Lemon zest, a bit of the juice and fried garlic get tossed through the beans in the end.

These are so good, and they go fast. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this, but there’s something about keeping the beans whole that makes me crunch my way through an entire plate of them, like fries, whilst contemplating what else I should serve myself. In other words, make extra.


Servings: 4 people


  • 500 grams green beans
  • 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Lemon zest and juice
  • Salt, to taste

Olive-almond tapenade:

  • 2 dried red chillies (or 1 teaspoon chilli flakes)
  • 3 tablespoons black olives, pitted
  • 3 tablespoons almonds


  • Remove the pointy ends of the green beans. Boil in salted boiling water for 3 mins or until just tender. Drain and run under cold water. Set aside.
  • Toss the almonds in a large wide pan and move them around until toasted with brown spots. Set aside.
  • Add the dried chillies, olives and almonds to a blender jar. Pulse just until you have a coarse crumble mixture. This is your tapenade. Set aside.
  • Add the olive oil to the same pan over low heat. Fry the garlic until lightly coloured. Garlic burns quickly so keep an eye out. Remove and set aside. Leave the remaining oil in the pan.
  • Tip the beans and the tapenade mixture into the pan and toss to coat for 2 mins. Don’t add salt; the tapenade is quite salty.
  • Take off the heat and toss in the fried garlic, lemon zest and a little lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.


Serves 3-4 as a side.

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