Pesto originates in Genoa, Italy and the recipe traditionally consists of crushed garlic, basil and pine nuts blended with Parmesan cheese and olive oil.  The name originates from the Genoese word pestâ, which means to pound or to crush. This refers to the way in which the authentic sauce is prepared, with a mortar and pestle.   

Tapenade is a dish consisting of puréed or finely chopped olives, capers and olive oil, and its name comes from the Provençal word for capers, tapenas.  Originating from Provence, a region in southeastern France bordering Italy and the Mediterranean Sea, it is generally eaten as an hors d'oeuvre spread on bread.  The olives (most commonly black olives) and capers are finely chopped, crushed or blended.  Olive oil is then added until the mixture becomes a paste.  Tapenade is often flavoured differently in varying regions with other ingredients such as garlic, herbs, anchovies, lemon juice or brandy.  

Enter "tapenesto."  In my many attempts to create a dish that is dairy-free and a little more substantial (chunky) than both pesto and tapenade, my sou chef and I have come up with our own version...a blend of both.  When this dish is under construction in our kitchen, the countertop is cleared off, the chopping blocks come out, and there are usually no measuring cups to be found.  A little bit of this and a little more of that, is the method we go by, and we've managed to get it right, at least, most of the time.  I have done my best to guesstimate the amounts. 



  • 2 C cashews or other nuts (although cashews are my preference) 
  • ½-1 C fresh basil, chopped and lightly packed (or puréed with a little water)
  •  3-6 cloves minced garlic (or more - to taste)
  • 2 C each sliced black and green olives (drained)
  • • ¾ C capers
  • 3 C drained and chopped (not puréed) sundried tomatoes
  • ¼ C nutritional yeast
  • 1 T peppercorns (crushed)
  • ½ C brine from black olives 
  • Juice of 1/2-1 lemon (or to taste)
  • ¼ -1/2 C oil from sundried tomatoes or olive oil


  1. Coarsely chop cashews and set aside
  2. Chop or purée basil and set aside
  3. In the food processor combine olives and remaining ingredients and process until desired consistency is reached
  4. Transfer to a large bowl and blend in nuts and basil
  5. Taste and adjust if necessary
  6. Store in small glass jars in the freezer until ready to use.
  7. Once thawed, keep refridgerated and use within 2-3 days