Asparagus Tapenade ♥ Recipe

Asparagus Tapenade, a thick, nutty asparagus spread.
graphic button small size size 10 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! (A month seemed ambitious at the time!) Nine years and 1200 vegetable recipes later, the rest, as they say, is history! But Day Seven's recipe for Asparagus Tapenade remains a total winner, an easy spread made from cooked asparagus, garlic and fresh herbs. It's low carb and Weight Watchers friendly. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real". These days, I love to make it when fresh asparagus is kinda-sorta getting "old hat" but I'm not ready to gie up the season. I think you'll love it, enjoy! graphic button small size size 10

~recipe & photo updated 2008 & 2010 & republished 2014~

2005: A Keeper. But then I knew that because this "asparagus guacamole" has been a favorite recipe for some years. But my definition of what qualifies as 'vegetable' for A Veggie Venture may be changing. Asparagus Tapenade is made in advance and served cold as a ... yup ... side dish. Its main ingredient is asparagus. It's quick and easy. But for the remainder of this Veggie Venture, I'll try to err toward vegetables that can be cooked and eaten right away. (2008 & 2014: Obviously, I changed my mind on this!)

2008 & 2010: I just love returning to favorite recipes! This easy asparagus spread was just as good as remembered, maybe better. It's 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


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

Salted water
1 pound asparagus (thick spears work fine)
1/4 cup pine nuts (see TIPS)
2 large cloves garlic
1/2 cup fresh basil or fresh tarragon (see TIPS)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, optional
1/4 teaspoon fresh pepper
Additional salt and pepper to taste

Bring pan (see ALANNA'S TIPS) of water to boil over high heat. Rinse and trim ends from asparagus, then cut in 1 - 2 inch pieces. Add asparagus to water, return water to boil, reduce heat to medium. Cook until just soft and still bright green, about three minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, toast pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium high, stirring occasionally, watching carefully to avoid burning.

Meanwhile, add remaining ingredients to a food processor. Add toasted pine nuts and cooked asparagus. Pulse until thoroughly blended but still roughly chopped. Transfer to clean container and refrigerate until fully chilled. Serve with crackers or vegetables or on crostini.

2005: This is so easy to make! Still, next time I'm steaming asparagus, I'll plan to cook an extra pound or so, just for this.
2005: I haven't purchased an asparagus steamer yet but was inspired to try a 9x13 metal cake pan that happened to be on the counter waiting to be put away. Instead of cutting the spears into 1 - 2 inch lengths before cooking, I cooked the spears, bottoms to the center (directly over the flame) and tips to the ends (further from the heat source). And frankly – it worked! Certainly an asparagus steamer is more elegant but if you've already got a 9x13, give this technique a try.
2014: Ever wonder how to cut asparagus? It's so easy, now there's a quick set of photos and even a video. Learn by watching, soon you'll be doing the bend-bend-snap too! Just check out Asparagus & Woody Ends (Step-by-Step Photos & Video)!
2008: 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 no attempt to have enough basil on hand for pesto but I DO 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.
2010: The price of pine nuts has jumped through the roof so I made the last two batches with toasted walnuts and roasted/salted sunflower seeds. Both worked great and are much easier to find than pine nuts. If using walnuts, toast them in a 350F oven until aromatic.
2010: One batch, I added a ripe avocado, thinking I'd create a sort of asparagus guacamole. 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


~ Six Years of Favorite Asparagus Recipes ~

~ Gorgeous Raw Asparagus Salad ~
~ Slow-Roasted Asparagus ~
~ Spring Garden Vegetable Soup with Asparagus, Artichokes, Peas & Spinach ~
~ more asparagus recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture

~ Roasted Salmon & Asparagus ~
~ Easy-to-Elegant Asparagus Soup ~
~ Asparagus Custard Tart ~
~ more asparagus recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column

© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2005, 2008, 2010 & 2014
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