Valerie’s Fig and Olive Tapenade with Sun-Dried Tomatoes


Mary Anne here. We truly are a modern family! When my ex-husband remarried about seven years ago, we all reaped the rewards of his union. While he acquired a beautiful and gracious wife, my children gained an incredibly supportive ally and I got myself a brand new friend who I have affectionately dubbed my “wife-in-law.” Valerie completed our family with her very sweet and talented daughter, Kate: my step-daughter-in-law!

This may seem unorthodox or even somewhat hysterical to our readers, but it’s truly a blessing as we share every holiday together, each taking turns hosting and playing guest. This year, Valerie was assigned the task of bringing appetizers to our Thanksgiving feast, held at Mariel’s in-laws. Valerie has a well-informed palate and instinctively marries assorted cheeses and tapenades. This year was no exception as we gobbled up her Fig and Olive Tapenade and still managed to consume our fair share of turkey!

Her luscious appetizer has been on my mind ever since and Valerie has so generously offered to share it on our blog. Naturally I added my own touches and additions, including the sun-dried tomatoes, but the real kudos go to my wife-in-law!

Mariel made her own version of this treat and brought it to a Book Club party last week. While preparing the recipe, she discovered – ever mindful of tiny NY kitchens (and those cooks who do not have a food processor) – that a hand mixer is all you need to combine this mixture and produce the proper consistency.

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Valerie’s Fig and Olive Tapenade with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Serves 14

Note: This can be prepared 2 to 3 days ahead of time and I whipped it up in less than 30 minutes!

To toast walnuts, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the chopped nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned and fragrant.

1½ cups dried figs (Mission or Calimyrna), finely chopped (be sure to remove the hard stems) – $3.49
¾ cup water – stock
1 Tablespoon plus 1 Teaspoon olive oil – stock
2 Tablespoons plus 1 Teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar – stock
1 Teaspoon dried Oregano – stock
1 Teaspoon dried Thyme – stock
1/8 Teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste – stock
1/3 cup Kalamata or Greek olives, finely chopped – $1.33
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, finely chopped – $1.25
2 cloves of garlic, minced – stock
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste – stock
1- 8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened – $1.79
½ cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted – stock
Grand Total Assuming Well-Stocked Pantry: $7.46
Total Per Serving: $0.56

1. Combine the chopped figs and water in a saucepan. Over medium flame, bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, until the figs are tender and the liquid is reduced to about a Tablespoon.

2. Remove from the heat, and stir in the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Oregano, Thyme, and Cayenne pepper.

3. Add the olives, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper. Using a mixer, combine well. Mixture should be a somewhat chunky “paste” consistency. Correct seasonings and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight to allow flavors to meld.

4. To serve: Remove the tapenade from the refrigerator about 1 hour before you plan to serve it. Stir well. Place the cream cheese on a serving plate and spoon the tapenade over its top. Sprinkle with toasted walnuts and serve with Pita chips or crackers.

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