Olive Tapenade Grilled Cheese (Homemade)

Today’s sandwich is the “Olive Tapenade Grilled Cheese.” It combines black olive tapenade, mozzarella cheese, and tomato on butter-griddled rustic Rosemary Olive Oil bread.

Notes: I know we write a lot on this site about sandwiches. But they are one of civilization’s truly great inventions. All you need is bread. Flat bread, crusty, rustic Boule, or even ghostly pale American slices of non-nutritive white in a plastic sleeve. A little meat is nice, but not necessary. Cheese goes a very long way. Especially if you feel as I do about meltiness.

A wayward piece of lettuce, if you can find one in the bottom of the crisper, fancies things up nicely. And a liberal smear of mustard or mayo, to add creaminess or kick. Peanut butter, all on its own: Boom. Cream cheese and jelly is Violet’s new favorite. My mom really liked a salad sandwich made with dressing-drippy leftover lettuce. In the Russian folktale, Bony Legs, or Baba Yaga, the young heroine saves herself from the eponymous crone, through her own generosity as well as the help of an ingenious cat, by sharing bread, butter, and meat with creatures who remember her kindnesses. I will never forget a ham and butter on baguette, enjoyed in the sunshine in the Place de Vosges when I was sixteen on a school trip to France. We came back to American from Mexico for the love of sandwiches. To start a family, sure, and reconnect with friends and seasons. But mostly, it was for a more familiar lunch.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to find a good sandwich in this town. I am happy to hear suggestions if you have them. Since Sweets and Meats seems to be not reopening, I can’t think of one I really want very much at all. In Clinton, it’s Sal Demarco’s eggplant parm. In New Haven, it’s The Flag from Nica’s on Orange Street in East Rock. In Portland, it’s anything from Aurora Provisions. Ever resourceful, we decided to make our own. A good sandwich needs only three elements. And while tomatoes are nowhere near in season, thinly sliced and grilled, they add enough juiciness and acidity to make their presence worthwhile.

Olive Tapenade Grilled Cheese
Makes one big sandwich


  • 2 slices rustic bread, sliced
  • 4 tablespoons black olive tapenade
  • 2 slices mozzarella cheese
  • 2 slices tomato
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter


Olive Tapenade Grilled Cheese

Pat tomato slices dry, sprinkle with salt, and set aside while you assemble the other ingredients. Spread each slice of bread with two tablespoons of the tapenade. Top with cheese, and the sliced tomato. Butter outside of sandwich, and cook in a skillet over medium heat until cheese melts and bread is golden brown.

Olive Tapenade Grilled Cheese

Jillian Bedell

Jillian Bedell is a writer and mother living in a farmhouse in Cushing, Maine. She is very good at talking about herself in the third person. She is co-author of Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road.

1 Comment

  1. oh, that picture is the purtiest thing I ever did see! and I happen to have some olive tapenade kicking around in my fridge!

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