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Fig and Walnut Tapenade with Goat Cheese

Fig and Walnut Tapenade with Goat Cheese
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Traditional tapenade is a Provencal spread made of olives, herbs and garlic, but in this iteration, I gave it a California twist with the addition of dried figs. One of my holiday favorites, this dish offers a great contrast in flavors (sweet figs, salty olives, tart vinegar, bitter nuts, and rich cheese) for a real party in your mouth.

It’s that easy: Calimyrna figs are golden brown and usually come in a round or log shaped pack. They are larger than Mission figs and so must be stemmed and chopped before using them. I usually have both types in my pantry and use them constantly over the winter adding them to salads, stews, sprinkled over pizza or whenever I want to add sweetness and texture.

Fig and Walnut Tapenade with Goat Cheese

Start to Finish: 20 minutes
Hands on Time: 20 minutes
Serves 8


  • 1 cup dried Calimyrna or Mission figs, stems removed and chopped
  • 1/3 cup port wine
  • 1/2 cup pitted and chopped Kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped capers, rinsed, see note
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons minced Italian parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Two 4-ounce logs goat cheese, cut into 1/2-inch thick rounds
  • 1/2 cup toasted and chopped walnuts
  • Crostini crackers


  1. Combine the figs and port in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the liquid evaporates and the figs are soft, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl to cool.
  2. To the bowl add the olives, olive oil, vinegar, capers, thyme and parsley. Season the tapenade to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. On a large platter arrange overlapping cheese rounds in the center of the plate. It may be crumbly when slicing it but that is okay. Let the cheese warm up for 15 minutes if cold and spoon the tapenade over the top.
  4. Garnish with the toasted walnuts. Serve with crackers.
  5. Make-ahead: The tapenade can be made up to 3 days ahead covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before spooning over cheese and serving.
  6. In the glass: How about a festive Rosé? It’s not just for summer!
Fig and Walnut Tapenade with Goat Cheese

Fig and Walnut Tapenade with Goat Cheese

Carla Snyder

By Carla Snyder

Carla has spent the past 30 years in the food world as a caterer, artisan baker, cooking school teacher, food writer and author of 6 cook books including the James Beard nominated Big Book of Appetizers. Her passion is sharing fresh, cooked-from-scratch weeknight meals that cut prep time and practically eliminate that nightly sink full of dishes.

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