Back in 2001 I was still working on yachts as a chef. It was a career that was slowly coming to a finish. At the end of every charter or cruise my body would feel more beat up. Its long hours and sometimes thankless work. The client would say, she can’t eat this or he wont eat that (usually lies). The only thing that kept me in the business was my passion for food.

Not just the taste of food, but the colors, textures and aromas. From season to season you can happen upon the most wonderful fruits and vegetables to work with. I know this is the age of computers and I suppose 2001 was too, but I just wasn’t there yet, and am barely there now. I had to try to keep things fresh and new. So in order to help me in that I would sink myself into the latest Bon Appetite Magazine or Cooks Illustrated Magazine. They have always been my two favorites.

The R.S.V.P section of  Bon Appetite was my favorite place to get “new to me” recipes. R.S.V.P.  is where a reader would write in begging for a recipe from a favorite restaurant. If anyone could get it from a chef, Bon Appetite could. In the October 2001 issue I found this recipe. I still have the page I tore out of the magazine. Its stained and roughed up but I will probably keep it for another decade. This tapenade is tangy, sweet and salty with a bit of crunch.

I love everything about this recipe. There are a few things I am going to beg you not to do. Do not use dried thyme. If you don’t have fresh then leave it out or maybe try fresh rosemary but please do not use dried thyme. Also do not put the figs and olives in a food processor. These ingredients are meant to be chopped. You will want the texture that the recipe offers. It’s not meant to be a pesto. The image that I found on the net for this recipe shows capers un-chopped on top and it looks more like a pesto. The recipe is not like that they need to be chopped and blended. I think someone did that for the art of the photo.

I will put the link to where I found this recipe at the end. I also usually double everything except the cheese. I use crostini not crackers. If there is left over, there are a million things you can do with it. Toss some over a salad, or along side a grilled pork tenderloin. Try the recipe and come back to me with your comments. I always love to hear when people try new recipes.


Fig & Walnut Tapenade with Goat Cheese

1 cup chopped stemmed dried Calimyrna figs

1/3 cup water

1/3 cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives or other brine-cured black olives

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon drained capers, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

2 5.5-ounce logs soft fresh goat cheese (such as Montrachet), each cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds

1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts

1/4 cup toasted walnut halves

Fresh thyme sprigs (optional)

Combine chopped figs and 1/3 cup water in heavy medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until liquid evaporates and figs are soft, about 7 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl. Mix in olives, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, capers, and chopped thyme. Season tapenade to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

Arrange overlapping cheese rounds in circle in center of medium platter. Stir chopped walnuts into tapenade; spoon into center of cheese circle. Garnish with walnut halves and thyme sprigs, if desired.



fig tapenade goat cheese recipe