Artichoke and Kale Tapenade – Superstar Sauce for Simple Seasoning

Artichoke and Kale Tapenade

We are right smack in the middle of the busiest time of the year. The Holiday Season has a lot of things going for it. But one thing it doesn’t offer a lot of is extra time. Between the shopping, wrapping, writing out cards, office parties, school plays, and travel, there isn’t a ton of extra time to focus on complicated recipes and long lists of ingredients.

Today, I offer not one, but two wonderfully easy and super delicious and remarkably versatile sauces. This post focuses on the Artichoke and Kale Tapenade. I am simultaneously publishing related post on a Roasted Red Pepper Pesto. Both are made with a very short list of ingredients, which you probably already have on hand. You could make both together in less than a half an hour.

Either one alone or both make great dips to take to that last minute holiday party you forgot about. Or toss on some pasta for a quick dish at the school pot luck. Lets dive into how to make the Artichoke and Kale Tapenade.

How it Began

The Artichoke and Kale Tapenade was born out of a desire to create a dip using artichokes that wasn’t a classic Spinach and Artichoke Dip. While a worthy dish, I think it has been done to the point of approaching cliche. But I didn’t want to just sub out the spinach with kale and call it a new dish.

I also have been playing around with a green tapenade for a stuffed mushroom appetizer I have be contemplating. If you don’t know, a tapenade is a Southern European spread based on olives, capers and anchovies. The name comes from the Provençal word for capers (tapenos), but probably originated in the north west corner of Italy where it meets Provence.

I’ve tried my green tapenade with artichokes to go along with the olive and capers and have been generally pleased with the results. However, when looking for something as a solution to my Spinach and Kale dip ‘problem’ — I decided to marry the two projects. I added the kale to the green tapenade. At first I was underwhelmed, but quickly realized that ‘raw’ kale wasn’t ideal here.

Reusing An Old Trick

The solution to that actually became quite obvious rather quickly. Turns out I wasn’t fully satisfied with the taste of the artichokes as well. Then — my own solution for improving canned artichokes came back to me. Pan Roasted Artichokes. But skip the parsley, and add the kale instead. This allows the kale to braise and wilt a little. As it start to wilt, I added the olives and capers an tossed quickly. Then turned off the heat and let them all sit a moment.

This allows the cooler olives and capers to bring down the temperature of the artichokes and kale. Sitting for a few minutes off heat also helps. Both of these steps allow me to put them in the food processor “warm” and not “hot”

Altogether, from popping the top on the can of artichokes until ready in a bowl took about twenty minutes. At least five of that was just allowing it to sit a cool a bit, and actual active time was closer to ten minutes. The bright green color is delightful and looks fresh any time of year.

A Sauce by Any Other Name …

A small aside here. With dishes like this, I am always puzzled as to what to call them. Are they a dip? Certainly both dishes today can be used as dips, and would be at home in any mezze platter, tapas party or charcuterie board. But both are so much more than that. They can be used beyond that purpose as well. Topping chicken, tossed with vegetables,

I found the same struggle when describing my Romesco Sauce, the Beet Green Pesto and even the Moroccan Zaalouk. All of them can serve many roles in a kitchen repertoire beyond just “dip” or “side dish”. This sort of versatility is what draws me to them – but it makes it hard to put a single label on the.

So I’m going with “sauce” because in culinary terms “ Sauces are meant to relish and compliment foods, and make them more interesting to eat. They pull together different elements of a dish to compliment or provide a contrast in flavors and textures. (See)”

Dips (dipping sauce), pestos, tzatziki, hummus, vinaigrettes, salsas, and tapenades are all sauces. Our sauces can be used in a wide variety of ways to enhance our foods.

So Many Ways to Use!

The possibilities of how to use this are only limited by your imagination and sense of culinary adventure. Here are some examples of using the Artichoke and Kale Tapenade beyond just a dip.

A topping for grilled chicken

Whipped with some feta and used for a stuffed mushroom appetizer

Tossed in a Mediterranean Salad of Tomatoes, Cucumbers, and Chickpeas

Other ideas include adding a couple of tablespoons to a soup to ramp up the flavor. Dressing up a box Mac and Cheese. Using as a spread on sandwiches instead of mayo

One final note. If you find you’ve made to much Artichoke and Kale Tapenade, it freezes really well. I scoop mine into a silicon mini muffin pan and freeze individual portions. Each cup is about 2 ounce portion. After they’ve frozen, take them out of the muffin pan and store in an air tight container. Whenever you need a quick hit of flavor, thaw one of these out and use it to add some last minute zing!

Artichoke and Kale Tapenade

Course: Appetizer, mezze, Sides, Snack, Tapas
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: artichoke, Garlic, Lemon
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 7 minutes
Servings: 8
Artichoke and Kale Tapenade, made with a very few ingredients, which you probably already have, delivers amazing flavor with little effort
Print Recipe


  • 1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 15 oz can artichoke hearts, halved or quartered, drained
  • 2 cup Tuscan Kale Rough Chop and Thick Stems Removed
  • 1/2 cup green olives pitted
  • 2 TBS capers
  • Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper to taste


  • Heat olive oil and garlic over medium high heat until garlic just begins to get fragrant. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
  • Add artichokes to the garlic and olive oil. Sauté for about 3 -4 minute, stirring or shaking frequently
  • Add Tuscan Kale, and stir to combine
  • As kale begins to soften and wilt, remove from heat
  • Add Green Olive and Capers and stir to combine
  • Allow everything to cool for 3 – 4 minutes
  • Transfer everything to food process and process until desired texture is reach
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Serve immediately or let cool and refrigerate to use later


  1. Looks like a tasty, versatile and healthy sauce. Happy New Year, John!

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