This wonderful tapenade of sweet figs,  savory olives and vinegary capers is an outstanding blend of sweet and sour/tart and it is hard to stop eating it. It is always a hit. Tapenade goes back to Roman times and can be made many different ways. This recipe featuring figs mixed with the olives and capers is one of my favorites.  There are many recipes for this Provencal dish, with or without the green olives and capers. Jacques Pepin adds the  green olives and capers to his, so I did too. In fact, the name tapenade comes from the Provencal word for capers. It is important to crush the rosemary and thyme if using home-dried and cook them with the figs because otherwise the herbs resemble miniature pieces of wood. Also, crushing releases fragrant oils.


  • 1 cup finely chopped dried figs
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teas. dried rosemary, crushed in mortar (1 tbsp. fresh, minced)
  • 1 teas. dried thyme, crushed in mortar (1 tbsp. fresh, minced)
  • ¼ teas. cayenne pepper (or smoked Spanish paprika)
  • ¾ cup finely chopped Kalamata olives
  • ¾ cup finely chopped green olives
  • ¼ cup chopped capers
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

METHOD Combine figs, rosemary, thyme, cayenne pepper and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until figs are tender and liquid has been reduced – approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add the chopped olives, capers and garlic and mix well.

Alternatively, instead of chopping the olives by hand,  put the olives, capers, garlic in a food processor and pulse to a medium chop.  Add the fig mixture and pulse once or twice more. This gives a smoother texture that is easier to spread.

Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight to allow flavors to blend. Serve tapenade, sprinkled with the walnuts, at room temperature with bread or crackers.

You also can use this as a dip with cut up vegetables or spoon over cooked vegetables as a condiment.



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