Asparagus Tapenade ♥ Recipe

Asparagus Tapenade, another healthy vegetable appetizer ♥ Fresh & Seasonal. Low Carb. Weight Watchers Friendly. Great for Meal Prep. Vegan. Gluten Free.
A bright green asparagus spread for crackers, sandwiches, pasta, steaks, "scoops" and more, just lightly cooked fresh asparagus plus garlic, walnuts or sunflower seeds. It's not really a tapenade (since it has no olives). It's not asparagus pesto (but has basil and walnuts). It's not really an asparagus dip (it's thicker than a dip). What the heck do we call this delicious stuff???

Fresh & Seasonal, a Summer Classic. Low Carb. Weight Watchers Friendly. Great for Meal Prep. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Naturally Gluten Free.

An Early Recipe That Still Completely Works

Today I'm bringing back the recipe first published on Day Seven – really!! – of A Veggie Venture, that was way back in 2005 when I thought it might be fun to cook and write about a new vegetable recipe every day for a month. Funny thing, a month seemed ambitious at the time! But fifteen years and 1000 vegetable recipes later, the rest, as they say, is history.

Asparagus Tapenade was a keeper back in 2005 (and even before, this recipe long precedes blogging) and remains a winner today. But only days into cooking vegetables every day, I was still figuring out my mission here on A Veggie Venture and thought that meant focusing on vegetables recipes that could be cooked and eaten right away. Asparagus Tapenade was the first early sign that my definition of what qualifies as vegetable would evolve. That's because Asparagus Tapenade is made in advance and served cold as a ... yup ... spread.

But Day Seven's recipe for Asparagus Tapenade remains a total winner, an easy spread made from cooked asparagus, garlic and fresh herbs. These days, I love to make it when fresh asparagus is kinda-sorta getting "old hat" but I'm not ready to give up the season. I think you'll love it, enjoy!

What Is Tapenade? And What Do You Do With It?

Officially, a tapenade [pronounced taa-puh-NAA-duh] is a French spread made with finely chopped olives and capers. For years, I've made an Italian version called "olivada," the recipe is one of three Easy Italian Appetizers I've been making forever and ever. But since there are no olive or capers, I supposed this asparagus dip/spread is really not a tapenade.

But what to call it then?

There are so many different titles for spreads, maybe "asparagus pesto" or "asparagus jam" or "asparagus chutney" or "asparagus dip" would work too. I love these types of things, you'll see a whole collection of vegetable spreads here on A Veggie Venture plus even more with the appetizer recipes on Kitchen Parade (just scroll down a bit to the section called Spreads).

So unless someone suggests otherwise, I'm sticking with "tapenade".

Asparagus Tapenade is another good way to use the fat spears of asparagus that show up early and late in the asparagus season. This thick spread can be used as an appetizer with crackers or bread, tossed with hot pasta, tucked into an omelet, dabbed onto a steak hot off the grill.

And really, try this, eaten by the spoonful, straight from the jar. Yum.

"I just made this, and it is deeeelish!" ~ Sarah

Asparagus Tapenade, another healthy vegetable appetizer ♥ Fresh & Seasonal. Low Carb. Weight Watchers Friendly. Great for Meal Prep. Vegan. Gluten Free.


Active prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes plus refrigeration before serving
Makes 1-1/2 cups

1 pound asparagus (medium-thick or thick spears, no pencil thin asparagus, please)
2 large cloves garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup fresh basil or fresh tarragon (see TIPS)
1/4 cup toasted walnuts or sunflower seeds or pine nuts
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon fresh pepper
Cooked Asparagus
Additional salt and pepper to taste

PREP THE ASPARAGUS Remove and discard the woody ends from the asparagus, here's how Asparagus & Woody Ends (Step-by-Step Photos & Video). Cut off the tips and set aside. Cut the center portion of the spears into one-inch lengths.

COOK THE ASPARAGUS Either steam (in a collapsible steamer basket or an asparagus steamer) or simmer in salted water (in a saucepan) or microwave (How to Microwave Asparagus) the one-inch lengths until tender; add the asparagus tips just at the end, they take much less time. You want the asparagus to be just soft (not mushy) and still bright green. If needed, drain well.

PROCESS Meanwhile, process the garlic and salt by themselves in a food processor. Add the basil, walnuts (or sunflower seeds or pine nuts), olive oil, pepper and Cooked Asparagus. Pulse until thoroughly blended but still roughly chopped. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Transfer to a clean container and refrigerate until fully chilled.

TO SERVE Serve with crackers or vegetables or on crostini. It's especially good with a bit of Homemade Ricotta spread underneath or crumbled on top. Having a little Asparagus Tapenade open-faced sandwich just makes a light meal!

This is so easy to make! The next time you cook asparagus for dinner, cook an extra pound just for this.
Fresh herbs from the supermarket are convenient (if expensive) as long as you remembered to buy them. This recipe is one of the reasons why I plant just a few herbs in my garden every year. I make sure to have enough basil on hand for pesto but also love having just a bit of sage, a bit of rosemary, a bit of chive, anytime I want just by stepping outside. See Never Buy Fresh Herbs Again, tips on growing fresh herbs in pots.
This recipe originally called for pine nuts. But they are hard to find, so expensive and go bad so quickly. So now I use sunflower seeds (cheap) or walnuts (more expensive but easier to find).
One batch, I added a ripe avocado, thinking I'd create a sort of asparagus guacamole. Fail! Too bad, the avocado taste and mouth-feel didn't come through and really too bad, the outside of the tapenade turned brown. Needless to say, I don't recommend adding an avocado!

A Veggie Venture - Printer Friendly Recipe Graphic

Looking for healthy new ways to cook vegetables? A Veggie Venture is home to hundreds of super-organized quick, easy and healthful vegetable recipes and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables. Join "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg to explore the exciting world of common and not-so-common vegetables, seasonal to staples, savory to sweet, salads to sides, soups to supper, simple to special.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade
2005, 2008, 2010, 2014 (repub) & 20202

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. I just made this, and it is deeeelish!

  2. Do you think it is worth growing in your own garden?

  3. Anonymous ~ Great question! I "inherited" an established asparagus garden but here's what I'd say. It takes dedicated ground. The season is quite long, several weeks. A 10x10 space produces enough asparagus for two people for those weeks. But -- asparagus is readily available in the grocery and is usually very good, even during the season, I still find myself supplementing with supermarket asparagus, the plot becomes quite unsightly though the asparagus ferns are very pretty as the "green" in flower vases. Hope this helps!!

  4. Hi Alanna! How long will this keep in the refrigerator? Would it help keep it if you put a thin layer of olive oil on top (kinda like pesto?)

  5. I love oldies but goodies! This is a terrific recipe. I can taste it already, and I know it's delish. Thanks!


  6. Pam ~ Great question! I’d estimate two or three days and don’t remember any issues with browning, say. I think there are enough other ingredients to counteract that oxidation. I wouldn’t add a layer of oil unless you want it to really glisten.

    John ~ Me too! I really love this stuff! And it’s “unusual” without being “weird”, you know? Thanks for stopping in, always good to see you! :0


Post a Comment

Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna