I have a confession to make…I only just learned that I might like olives. I know, most of you are groaning and wondering, “What? How can she not be sure if she likes olives?” Well, growing up, I never touched one – not even on the finest of pizzas or pastas. I just did not like the taste or the texture! In my twenties, I spent several months in Greece, the land of olives, rolling those salty, black orbs off my plate towards my travelling companions. In the kitchen, I have routinely avoided recipes that include olives. Well, I am told that our tastes change as we get older and I now think this is true, because here is one of my favourite recipes…and it focuses on olives…imagine that! In this tasty appetizer, I love the contrast of the creamy sweetness of the figs and the earthy saltiness of the olives. The fresh thyme lends a lovely floral note. A dab of this tapenade and a thin slice of goat cheese on some fresh, soft baguette and I’m in heaven! I hope you like this recipe too. I found it in a Bon Appétit magazine a number of years ago and have tweaked it to my own taste.
1 cup chopped, stemmed, dried Calimyrna figs
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup chopped, pitted Kalamata olives or other brine-cured black olives
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon drained capers
2 teaspoons chopped, fresh thyme
2 5.5-ounce logs goat cheese
½ cup chopped, toasted walnuts
¼ cup toasted walnut halves
Fresh thyme sprigs
Combine chopped figs and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until liquid evaporates and figs are soft, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl.
Mix in olives, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, capers and chopped thyme.
With a hand-held blender, lightly blend the ingredients. There should still be visible pieces of of fig, olives, and a few capers. At this point the tapenade can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Just before serving, stir in the walnut pieces.
To serve, simply place the tapenade on a platter and top with the walnut halves. Cut rounds of goat cheese and place next to the tapenade. Garnish with sprigs of fresh thyme if desired. Serve with baguette. Watch your guests gobble this up in a heartbeat!