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Sunday, December 07, 2003

Fig, Onion and Black Olive Tapenade:Recipe

I get a lot of good ideas from reading Craigslist Food Forum. Recently I read about an olive fig tapenade that people seem to be raving about. Needing an appetizer that could survive for a few hours without refrigeration, I figured it would fit the bill. The recipe originally comes from the "Jimtown Store Cookbook:Recipes from Sonoma County's Favorite Country Market", a recipe collection that also comes recommended by one of my favorite food bloggers--Heidi Swanson on her site 101 Cookbooks.

Tapenade, a French condiment, is a thick rough paste typically made from capers, anchovies, olives, olive oil, and lemon juice. You can use it as a sandwich spread, to spread on bread, crackers or as a dip for raw vegetables. There is also an Italian version, olivada which is a simpler puree of black olives, olive oil and black pepper. Either way, because olives are so salty, combining them with sweet figs makes perfect sense. Though making it with a mortar and pestle is traditional, a food processor will save you a lot of time and effort!

I found this recipe reprinted on Craigslist Food Forum, but the original version does come from the Jimtown Store Cookbook. After trying it I decided to improve it by adding some caramelized onions, increasing the poaching water and decreasing the olive oil.

Here's my version of the Jimtown Store's fig-and-black-olive tapenade

Fig, Onion and Black Olive Tapenade


1/2 cup (about 3 ounces) stemmed and roughly chop, dried Black Mission figs
2 cups water--use as much as you need to keep the figs from drying out
1 cup oil cured black olives, rinsed and pitted
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
1 small garlic clove, peeled
1/2 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 onion thinly slivered (use a mandoline if you have)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil


In a small saucepan, simmer the figs in the water for about 30 minutes, until very tender. Drain, reserving a few tablespoons of the reduced liquid which should be syrup-like in consistency. Saute the onion in the olive oil until caramelized, then let the onions and oil cool. In a food processor, pulse the pitted olives, drained figs, onions and oil, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, capers, and fresh rosemary to create a thick paste. If you don't have a food processor you can make this by pounding the ingredients with a mortar and pestle. The spread can be thinned with a bit of the reserved fig poaching liquid.
Before serving, bring tapenade to room temperature. Serve with toasted baguette slices, crackers or raw veggies.

Tapenade also pairs well with cured meats such as prosciutto and salami or cheeses, especially goat cheese.