Easy Kalamata Tapenade with Sumac; A versatile condiment

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Easy Kalamata Tapenade with Sumac- HeDoesXrayIDoFood.comThis is a budget friendly way to make a tasty olive spread that shouldn’t be relegated to the sole use as charcuterie platter item. Its versatility surprises most. How do you eat tapenade? Spread it over toasted sliced of baguette for a simple appetizer. Place a dollop atop polenta discs for a hearty side dish. Layer under bread as a potent condiment for grilled sandwiches, or roll it into a pork tenderloin for a quick impressive dinner. But, my favorite is to use this easy tapenade on my Light & Fresh: Za’atar Pizzas with Labna/Labneh. 

Za'atar Pizzas with Labna- HeDoesXrayIDoFood.com

Can’t I just buy tapenade?

It amazes me that you’d be hard pressed to find a decent jarred olive tapenade for under $7. Even when you bite the bullet and buy a pre-made jar, how many of us end up finishing the entire thing, as opposed to throwing out most? It’s just too much! In an effort to not waste money, I like to make a smaller portion on my own. Using only about half of a jar of kalamatas allows me to not only have tapenade, but also have whole olives to use in other meals. The same goes for the salty, fruity capers which are great thrown into Picadillo Sandwiches.

I also prefer to up the typical olive oil content to mellow out the saltiness and add a more velvety texture. Some of the pre-made tapenades make my fingers swell up with water retention just by looking at them. Adding in a touch of fresh lemon juice keeps the color a vivid purple and adds a brightness in flavor. Its tanginess also enhances the flavor of the sumac.

Not Sure about this Sumac Stuff?

OK, I get it. It’s got an odd name, has this strange bright color, and maybe you think it’s not important enough to find and buy. But please, trust me when I say it’s something as essential to your spice rack as garlic powder. Sumac are berries that are dried and ground into this flaky powder and has a wonderful tangy flavor similar to a floral-lemon. It can be used in almost any dish from stir-fry to grilled chicken. Give it a taste and you’ll see what you’ve been missing.

The Benefits of Sumac

One of the great things about sumac is that it’s wonderful for people eating low-sodium diets. You get lots of flavor without the sodium, so you don’t miss the extra salt. Its known to help with digestive issues and strengthen the immune system because of its high antioxidant content. Additionally it has strong ant-inflammatory properties. (Read more here.)

Got your attention now?


Although its most generally used in Middle Eastern cooking, like with “My Za’atar Recipe; The addictive spice mix that is good on anything“, it’s so adaptable it can be used with any cuisine.

If you live in a city, you’ll easily be able to find it at any Middle Eastern grocery purveyors, and occasionally in Indian “Mom & Pop Shops”. Typically I run across it at Whole Foods and the local grocery store. If you don’t have a specialty spice store near you, (such as Penzey’s) you can order it online (with free shipping on Amazon) for $10 or less. I’ve even asked my favorite Israeli Restaurant for a bit to take home, as well as where they recommend I buy it. (Don’t be shy, people LOVE sharing their culture!)

To learn more about Sumac and its health benefits check out this great explanation and history aptly called “What is sumac?

What are your favorite uses for tapenade? Comment below

Easy Kalamata Tapenade with Sumac- HeDoesXrayIDoFood.com

Easy Kalamata Tapenade with Sumac

Makes 1/2 cup


  • 1 large garlic clove, diced and mashed into paste with salt (see video)
  • 1/2 cup (pitted) kalamata olives
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 2 tbsp flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil


  1. Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend.
  2. Refrigerate up to 1 week.


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