If you know me, you might just find a small food basket on your doorstep this Christmas. In it there’ll be a little jar of Fig and Ripe Black Olive Tapenade, a small log of goat cheese, and a package of nice crackers. I love food gifts like this, because they entice the recipient to stop for a few minutes during the busy holidays—build a fire, maybe—and enjoy this little nibble with a glass of their favorite. If it can be with people they love, even better.
I got the idea for this year’s food gift on the California Olive harvest tour in October. Chef Ryan Jackson served Fig and Ripe Black Olive Tapenade on Brie-spread toasted baguette as an hors d’oeuvre at the Schoolhouse Restaurant in Sanger, California. I’ve used his recipe as a model for my own, and I plan to make scads of it for this year’s holiday food gifts.
Unlike classic tapenade made with bolder Kalamata olives, this one pairs the milder briny California ripe black olives with sweet figs, and the result is astonishingly good. Jackson’s recipe calls for Black Mission figs, which I couldn’t find. I made the spread with Turkish figs instead and actually prefer the color contrast between the dark black olives and the golden hue of this variety.
My Fig and Black Ripe Olive Tapenade is all made, so I’ll go first. At some point in the coming weeks I’ll build a fire, set out a bottle of wine, and invite over a few close friends to celebrate the season. Among all I have to do, I look forward to taking a little time for this.
Fig and Black Ripe Olive Tapenade
Makes 2 cups
To serve, spread fresh goat cheese on toasted baguette slices or good crackers and spoon on tapenade.
1 medium garlic clove
1 cup Turkish Figs
1 cup California ripe black olives
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
A few grinds of ground black pepper
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Mince garlic in a food processor. Add figs, olives, herbes de Provence, rosemary, zest, and pepper; process until figs and olives are finely chopped. Add vinegar and oil; pulse to incorporate.