Friday, September 21, 2012

Tapenade with black olives and figs

Tapenade is one of those things I always gazed at longingly - in fancy cafes and grocery stores in small expensive jars, it seems to promise a wealth of complex flavors and an addictive saltiness. The other day I nearly bought a jar at Trader Joe's - but as I was checking out the ingredient list, it occurred to me that I could very well make this myself.

So I came home and googled around; I quickly found a recipe posted by David Lebovitz that made me sit up. Fig and olive tapenade. I mean, figs? You know how I feel about figs. The texture of those tiny seeds. Irresistible.

I had everything I needed on hand:

1/2 cup (about 3 ounces, 90 grams) dried black figs (use dried Black Mission figs, if available)
3/4 cups (180 ml) water
1 cup (about 150 grams) black olives; Niçoise, Kalamata or any kind you like - I even used a few dried Moroccan ones.
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
1 large garlic clove, peeled
1/2 tablespoon capers, rinsed, drained and squeezed dry
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary (or thyme)
1/3 cup (150 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
black pepper  to taste

It's super easy. Just remove the stems from the figs, chop up roughly and simmer in water until softened, about 15 minutes or so. If the water seems to be drying out, just put the lid on. 

Rinse the capers and squeeze dry. Rinse the olives and pit them and drain well. Finely mince the fresh herb (I used rosemary.)

I'm not a mortar and pestle kind of cook. I like appliances. 

Let the figs cool a little bit and drain, keeping the liquid. You might want to add that later if the tapenade is too dry - but I didn't need to. 

Put in all your ingredients in the food processor except the olive oil and pulse a few times. S crape down the sides once or twice to merge that stray slice of garlic or two. 

Add the olive oil and puree until a rough paste forms. Add black pepper if you wish. 

It's recommended to make this at least a day ahead to let the flavors merge. That sounds about right - when I tried it last night, the figs were a bit strong, I tasted the olives separately and ocassionally felt the mustard. Today, they seem much more seamlessly blended. 

I love tapenade on anything - baguette slices, pita, boiled eggs (recommended! I like a boiled egg and tapenade sandwich) veggies, anything. If I'd known it was so easy to make (and that I could put figs in it), I would have made this long ago, instead of standing irresolute in speciality grocery stores, taking up and putting down fancy jars of the stuff. 

And.... because I just bought, instead of a DSLR, yet another app for my phone:

It's called picfx. Cool for artsy stuff. I wouldn't rely on this for food photography - I use the Loftus combination on Hipstamatic and Camera+ - but it's cool to play around with this app.


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