Tapenade Dip

I can’t eat capers without thinking of the award winning movie, Il Postina. In one of the first scenes, the postmaster instructs a woman how to send a package to her son and asks if she is sending him capers. When she says “si”, he says, in a knowing nod to Salina’s residents, that her son will be very pleased.

Why anyone thought to eat a caper is not known but they are mentioned as far back as the Old Testament and the Romans ate them with bread and used them to flavor sauces. Like herbs, they should be added at the end of cooking and while they have almost no nutritional value, they are thought to be an aphrodisiac, an antidepressant and an appetite and digestive stimulant.

This dip is not for anyone on a low-sodium diet. The combination of the olives, anchovies and capers makes for an incredibly wonderful, although incredibly salty concoction. Try it with unsalted crackers or endive leaves or on grilled swordfish! Sort of pesto –like in flavor but saltier and brinier.

Tapenade Dip
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1¼ cups
  • 1 cup well packed fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup pitted black Calamata olives
  • ¼ cup pitted green olives
  • 2 garlic cloves, quartered
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise, homemade if possible but store-bought is fine
  1. Place the basil, olives, anchovy fillets, garlic and capers in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until they are well chopped. While the machine is running, add the olive oil and quickly process until the mixture comes together. By hand, add the mayonnaise. Transfer to a small serving bowl, cover and refrigerate up to 2 days or serve immediately.