Monday, December 31, 2007

Recipes: Fig Tapenade, Garlicky Goat Cheese Spread, and Garlic Croutons

When I was shopping for Christmas Eve dinner, I spied a tempting display of organic dried fruits. I succumbed to the call of black mission figs, and brought home a large bag. When the time came for holiday entertaining, I turned to the figs.

Several months ago, I’d read a recipe for fig and olive tapenade. I love tapenade, a Provençal paste of black olives, anchovies, capers, herbs, garlic, lemon, and olive oil, so decided to pair it with my bounty of figs. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember where I’d read about fig tapenade, a distressing complication of owning too many cookbooks.

I did find a few recipes for tapenade with figs on the internet, but either the ingredient list or procedure didn’t appeal to me, so I was stuck with creating my own version. I started with a basic tapenade, left out the anchovies, and added figs and a healthy dose of wild thyme.

The sweet figs and salty olives and capers combine to form a deliciously vibrant spread. I made it this morning, enjoyed Fig Tapenade and Rosemary Bread for lunch, and brought the rest to a New Year’s Eve party tonight.

The best thing about Fig Tapenade is how easy it is to make. The ingredients are simply tossed into the food processor and processed until smooth. The flavor comes from good ingredients, not hard work on the part of the cook.

Fig Tapenade is rich and flavorful. It can be served on its own with crusty bread, or dressed up, as I did tonight, with Garlicky Goat Cheese Spread and Croutons.

Fig Tapenade
Makes about 2 cups
Although it may be tempting to buy pitted olives, their flavor pales in comparison to that of olives with pits. To easily pit Kalamata olives, spread them out on a cutting board and smash each olive with a meat pounder or other heavy object. After being pounded, the pits slip right out of the olives.

1 cup dried black mission figs
1 1/2 cups Kalamata olives
2 Tbsp. capers, preferably salt-cured
1 Tbsp. dried thyme, crushed
1 Tbsp. minced fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

Cut any stems off the figs, and cut the figs into quarters. Rinse, drain, and dry the olives and capers. Remove the pits from the olives.

Place all the ingredients, except the olive oil, in a food processor, and process until the ingredients are chopped into small pieces. While the machine is running, pour in the olive oil and continue processing until the ingredients form a smooth paste. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and process again. Place in a glass container and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.

Garlicky Goat Cheese Spread
Makes 2 cups
If you prefer mild hints of garlic, use the smaller amount; bolder palates may prefer the full measure. Garlicky Goat Cheese Spread may be served in a bowl, or unmolded onto a platter. If you want to serve it unmolded, line a bowl large enough to hold the spread with plastic wrap. Spoon the spread into the plastic-lined bowl, press down to remove any air pockets, and cover the spread with plastic wrap. To unmold, open up the plastic wrap so the spread is exposed, invert the bowl onto a platter, then remove the bowl and plastic wrap.

1 – 3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup (8 ounces) chèvre (soft goat cheese)
1/2 cup mascarpone or cream cheese
1/2 cup whole-milk yogurt or sour cream

Puree the garlic by mashing it together with the salt either in a mortar and pestle or on a cutting board with the flat side of a knife blade. Mash the pureed garlic, chèvre, mascarpone, and yogurt together (this may be done in a food processor). Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.

Garlic Croutons
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 tsp. salt
2 baguettes, cut into thin slices

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Brush the garlic butter-oil mixture onto one side of each baguette slice. Put the buttered baguette slices in one layer on a baking sheet and cook for 10 – 15 minutes, or until the bread slices are crispy.
This is my entry for A Fruit of the Month: Dried Fruit hosted by The 'Yum' Blog. It is also my entry for Antioxidant Rich Foods/5-a-Day Tuesdays sponsored by Sweetnicks.


Peter M said...

Laurie, Happy New Year!

This is a fantastic dip...the ingredients here list amended!

Elly said...

Oh yum! These all look delicious!

La Madame Chapeau said...

Figs, thyme, olive, garlic hmmmmmm! All yummy! So delicious, and just a ReaL wave from Mediterranean!

Adding this to my "trying" list, and do it at fresh fig season :)

La Madame Chapeau said...

I skipped the detail... So this sepread is made of dried figs... Hmm good news then :D

Laurie Constantino said...

Thanks Peter. I'll bet your shoppping list is a doozy!

Elly, so nice of you to say so! Happy New Year!

Bal, glad you figured out you could make it now!

Katie Zeller said...

They both sound so good I want to crawl right through the cables and get some!
I would be in big trouble with these...and a baguette...

Thistlemoon said...

This sounds so freaking good!

KayKat said...

The fig tapenade sounds delicious! I'm always seeking new flavours, am definitely going to try this out :)

test it comm said...

The fig tapenade sounds really good. Sweet figs, olives, lemon and garlic...mmm...

Shayne said...

these look really good I may try one this weekend.

Laurie Constantino said...

Katie, that's why I make it to bring to parties -- I couldn't be trusted if I were home alone with the Fig Tapenade.

Thanks Jenn! You're always so kind!

Kaykat, I'm glad you like it. I'd love to hear if you try it what you think!

MMMm-mmmmm, Kevin, almost as good as your food!

Shayne, I'd also love to hear back if you make it - I'm always curious how things turn out for other people.