Roasted Eggplant Tapenade + Pasta Sauce

Tapenade made from roasted eggplant is so easy and delicious
Roasted eggplant tapenade also makes a delicious pasta sauce.

Yesterday was summery here in Southern California. In a Meg Ryan breezy kind of way- not in a sultry no air peel off your jeans, cowboy boots and socks Jennifer Lopez in U Turn kind of way. Nope. Sunny and warm it was- but not hot like New Mexico.

We've moved into our sublet (above one of Santa Monica's most famous vegan restos). The Honda is Cuisinart and bread machine and wooden spoon free again- after lugging armloads of bags and boxes (via elevator, thank goddess) up to our cozy fourth floor cutie. Yesterday we walked to the ocean, inhaling deep. In truth? I am exhausted. Running on gluten-free fumes. Too tired to shop or cook or make even the tiniest decision, never mind attempt to be clever and insightful and entertaining in a recipe post.

And so, faithful reader, I hope you'll forgive me for reprising a recipe from my abundant archives. It's a good one. I promise. A delightful roasted eggplant tapenade. Serve it as a spread on wedges of gluten-free focaccia. Slather on your favorite pizza shell. Or add it to hot cooked pasta.

A bowl of gluten free eggplant tapenade spread
Roasted eggplant tapenade.

Roasted Eggplant Tapenade and Pasta Sauce Recipe

My decades-long mainstay appetizer hummus is currently on my off-limits list (due to the whole legume/bean issue I suddenly seem to be experiencing). So I needed an alternative dip. Something besides salsa). Something garlicky. I decided to whip up a tapenade. And by the way, this makes a fabulous quick pasta sauce.


To roast:

2 smallish eggplants- you know, just right, not too big (or you'll be eating tapenade for breakfast lunch and dinner)
Sea salt
1/2 red onion
5 cloves of garlic (what can I say?)
4 plum or Roma tomatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar- or use lemon juice if you like
Dried or fresh Italian herbs- oregano, thyme, marjoram, basil, parsley

To assemble:

1/2 cup ripe olives
1-2 teaspoon agave nectar
1 heaping tablespoon capers
1 tablespoon or so chopped fresh parsley, for serving


Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Peel the eggplants and cut them lengthwise into four pieces each. Lay them in a roasting pan and sprinkle both sides of the eggplant with sea salt. Set them aside to let the salt do its thing (salting the eggplant draws out the moisture and bitterness; at least that's what they tell me).

Meanwhile, roughly chop the onion and garlic. Halve the tomatoes.

When the eggplant is weeping- about 10 to 15 minutes- blot with a paper towel to remove the excess moisture. Cut up the slices a bit. Add the onion pieces, garlic and tomatoes. Drizzle it all with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Stir with a wooden spoon to coat.

Face the tomatoes cut side up. Sprinkle the whole shebang with dried herbs (no need to waste fresh herbs for this roasting process).

Roast in the oven for an hour or more, as needed. The eggplant should be very tender. Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool a bit.

Spoon the eggplant mixture into a food processor bowl; add the olives and agave nectar; cover and pulse until the mixture is finely diced- or you can make it less chunky and puree it. I like mine with some texture.

Scoop it out into a bowl and add the capers and chopped fresh parsley. Taste test for seasoning adjustments- more salt? Vinegar? Olive oil? Some pepper? Cover and chill until serving.

I like this tapenade best at room temperature; so I took it out of the fridge about fifteen minutes before serving.

Serve with Parmesan Crisps or easy Brown Rice Tortilla Chips or Buttermilk Flatbread. Grilled slices of focaccia style bread would be awesome, too.

Also- see how I make an easy gluten-free focaccia using a Gluten-Free Pantry French Bread Mix.

Serves 6.

Recipe Source:

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Karina's Note:

This tapenade is fabulous as a pasta sauce. We toss it with hot gluten-free penne. And scrape our plates clean.



Dani Spies said...

And let me tell you...I completely hear ya on the "ready to roast" tip...ABC ya summer salads...hello butternut squash!

Slacker Mom (aka Mrs. GF) said...

That looks great, and will be something I serve when I throw my first "formal" gluten free dinner party this fall.

I always knew you were a good cook, but having you weep the eggplant totally,totally solidified it for me. It's something my Mom always does, and her eggplant dishes are amazing.

nicisme said...

This looks amazing - the colour is beautiful! I think I'd really like it.

Dianne said...

Mmmmmmm! Sounds delish!
I love tapenade too!


Garrett said...

This recipe, like you darling, looks absolutely fabulous!

Anonymous said...

I would like to hear more about the buckwheat spiral pasta.

Karina said...

Hi Anon- We found it at Whole Foods in the gluten-free section- it's by Ogran. Quite yummy taste- trick is to not over-cook it.


goya bean said...

Uhm...hope this is not a stupid question...I don't really have much experience roasting veggies. Do you cover the eggplant in the oven or not? thanks!

Karina Allrich said...

Goya Bean- I do not cover the veggies when I roast them. It's so easy- toss in olive oil and herbs and roast!


goyabean said...

Thank you Karina. I was just worried that the veggies would dehydrate. will try it soon.

KarenLana said...

Hi Karina, I'm new to your Blog and you are a lifesaver. I just made this and's fabulous and easy! Other than two subsitutions due to allergies (red bell peppers for tomatoes and lemon juice for balsamic vinegar)I didn't change anything. Now I can have something really wonderful to use as a pasta "sauce" besides plain olive oil on my little gluten free pasta spirals. Sending you lots of grateful thoughts! =)

I Am Gluten Free said...

Quick. Easy. Delicious sounding. And I'm definitely going to look for the Buckwheat spirals. You could roast the eggplant on the bbq grill, too, right? That would give it a nice, smokey flavor. Congrats on your move. How often are you eating at RFD???!!!! I'm so jealous!

VeggieGirl said...

So hearty and delicious!!

Your sublet sounds nice!!

langelw46 said...


Congrats on your move...and I hear ya...I live in hot Tucson...and almost moved to San Diego instead in 1999..but folks are I stay here. I am also 55 years young..and so gluten intolerant that I was once diagnosed as celiac. Last test said Celiac but I know I should not eat gluten. Also allergic to eggs..but will still use them in recipes to make everything taste good. What is the news on beans?? why do you not eat them now?

judie said...

glad you are safely moved, Karina.I read your blog every day, and then go back and reread the older blogs, and find something new and tempting every day. Enjoy your ocean visits for all of us landlocked souls.

Rach said...

I'm so glad you and S. finally made it there! Relax, enjoy, and get comfortable. Hang with the family and revel in your new digs. <3

~M said...

This looks good. What brand of buckwheat pasta are you enjoying?

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the move! Santa Monica is so beautiful.
And thank you for still posting a recipe. I LOVE all your recipes, you have actually made me eat more healthy. I made your polenta vegetarian pie the other night and it was FAB! This looks delicious too...

j.cro said...

Take your time, we'll be here!
Congrats again.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the move - hope you're settling in okay.
I made this tapenade last night - YUM. I pretty much followed the recipe to the letter and I didn't need to make any adjustments in the end (I love recipes like that!). I may add more capers (I love them) and I'll probably chop my olives before adding to the processor (my big green ones didn't get chopped quite small enough and I didn't want the tapenade to be mush. Flavor was awesome!!

The Healthy Apple said...

Wow; what a wonderful recipe...I'll have to make this sounds delicious....
Great blog; keep up the wonderful posts!
Have an anjoyable afternoon.

Rosa said...

welcome to santa monica! i work across the street from that restaurant :)

good luck with the apartment hunt - we found a great place through westsiderentals.

Val said...

This sounds outstanding! Thank you for just enlightening me to peeling and salting eggplants! I never could figure these babies out no matter what size I bought or how long I roasted them. This recipe sounds amazing, I'll be trying it out soon. :)

Rachel said...

So yummy! I did make a couple of changes just because of what I had in the house - I didn't use capers or agave nectar and rather than using a food processor, I just chopped everything up. Made the Parmesan crisps as well to go with it, but great on it's own as well. So many different ways to interpret this recipe, all would be delish!!

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