If you know me at all, you won’t be surprised that I’m absolutely smitten, head over heals in love with appetizers. I often order from the appetizer menu when I eat out, enjoying two and sometimes three starters for dinner, not leaving any room for a main course. I love the light and flirtatious nature of appetizers so much, that taking my meal to the next level and getting an entrée is often something I forgo.
At home too, I adore making appetizers. They are quick, easy and fun. People are often reticent to make appetizers. It’s a part of the meal that’s wrongly dreaded. When I’m invited, people would have elaborate homemade main courses but serve only chips, crackers and store-bought dips. I think appetizers deserve more attention than that, being—in my opinion—the most important part of the meal.
I love tapenades of all kinds, but I had never had one with a sweet ingredient like figs. So when I saw the recipe in David Lebovitz’s book The Sweet Life in Paris, I knew I had to try it. I’m glad I did, because it was fabulous—as are all of David’s recipes! Everyone loved it, especially me. I know I’ll be making it again. I didn’t make many changes to the original recipe except that I used Kalamata instead of black olives.
6 to 8 servings
1/2 cup dried Black Mission figs, stemmed and quartered
1 cup water
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 teaspoons capers, rinsed and drained
2 anchovy fillets
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
In a small saucepan, simmer the figs in the water for about 15 minutes, until very tender. Drain.
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the pitted olives, drained figs, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, capers, anchovies, and rosemary to create a thick paste. Pulse in the olive oil until you’ve achieved a chunky-smooth paste. Season with salt and pepper, if necessary.
Serve with slices of bread or crackers.