Tapenade Tuna (Tonno)


Tuna (Tonno) Tapenade is a delicious summer party food. It’s simple to make, served chilled.  -Smear it on crusty bread, or hearty crackers, and you can also toss it into a bowl of freshly cooked pasta. There are many ways to make this, and so like everything else in cooking base it on what you like. Some recipes for Tuna Tapenade call for anchovies, lemon juice, capers, olives. I like to make my Tapenade with minced carrots, onion, garlic, capers, a spot of tomato puree (or paste), and lots of olive oil is a must.

Tapenade means savory spread or dip. It’s usually made with olives, anchovies, and capers, but its ingredients are not limited.

I make my Tuna Tapenade minus the anchovies and olives, but I suppose those items would be excellent to add to my recipe. I also cook my Tapenade, and chill it overnight in one of my fancy mason jars that I bought in Great Barrington, MA.   -I think I was a bit tipsy when I bought it, cost me big bucks, but it’s lid came with clips, how could I say no? Anyway, you don’t have to cook Tapenade, but my recipe calls for it. I think cooking it enhances the flavors.  -Clearly, you would not cook an Olive Tapenade.

Tonno means Italian for Tuna. For this recipe I use imported Italian Tonno pack in olive oil. It’s a little more expensive, but worth it.  All Italian markets have it, buy the one packed in a jar with olive oil.


So this is how you do.


A jar or two of that expensive Tonno packed in Olive Oil.

A tablespoon of Canola oil

1/4 Extra virgin Olive Oil (or more)

One large carrot

Half of medium size onion

One good size garlic clove

About a cup or less of tomato puree or two tablespoons tomato paste

A tablespoon or more of small capers.

A pinch of red hot peppers flakes

A pink of sea salt

A pinch of sugar

One bay leaf

Extra virgin Olive oil to add at the end



Put the garlic, carrot, and onion in your Cuisinart until minced fine, then add it all to a sauté pan that has heated canola oil inside (medium heat is fine). Cook for a few minutes stirring constantly. Add the bay leaf, and the Tonno (olive oil it’s packed in too). Next add red pepper flakes, salt and sugar. Mix everything together over medium low heat, start to mash the tuna with the back of a wood spoon or fork until its very fine. Remove from it heat and let cool for a bit. Next add olive oil, and capers, mix that all in, and let it cool some more. Now pack it into a jar, or a mason jar. Let it chill in the refrigerator overnight. You can serve this right from the jar with crusty bread or crackers, or even sliced cucumber, and celery. The oil will come to the top, mix it in before you serve it. Don’t drain the oil off, it’s the best part, and when my guest leave I savagely dip bread into,  you should do the same. Oh, keep the bay leaf inside, don’t discard it…

About johncpicardi

Welcome to my blog. I am the author of the novel Oliver Pepper's Pickle and the published plays The Sweepers and Seven Rabbits on a Pole, both plays have been produced off Broadway and around the US. I am a graduate of Johnson & Wales University where I majored in Culinary arts. I have a BA from The University of Massachusetts and an MFA from Carnegie Mellon University. This blog is about food and food memories and every other fantastic and scrumptious thing to do with it. My appetite and passion for food is large and runs deep, sometimes its indulgent and wild and other times wholesome and simple, often humorous and always immeasurable. I grew up outside of Boston and spent many hours of my childhood in front of the TV watching Graham Kerr (The Galloping Gourmet) and Julia Child prepare all kinds of luscious meals that would make my mouth water. Other days I’d follow my mother and two grandmothers around their simple, tidy kitchens as they busily prepared hearty fragrant meals, hand-cut pastas, preserved fruits and vegetables, baked yeasty breads, spicy cookies and frosted lopsided cakes. I was there by their side asking questions and helping where needed and there were plenty of times I was ordered to leave if I was in their way. It was a given that by the time I graduated High School I would be going off to Johnson & Wales University to study Culinary Arts. Those years were fine and good. I loved the hands on creativeness of cooking whether it be the simple lesson of washing a sink full of colorful salad greens, trussing a chicken or peeling a gorgeous carrot or the complicated lessons of making a French Country Pate or Julia Child’s Cassoulet or making Brioche, it all thrilled me and my dream had arrived!
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