Author Notes: What is it about the holiday season that lends itself so well to appetizers? This is a tasty little bite that's a lovely addition to a party menu, and if you leave off the ricotta it is a vegan option. The tapenade combines olives, figs and walnuts for a salty, sweet and crunchy flavor. The slices of Asian pear provide a crisp, juicy alternative to crackers. —BlueKaleRoad
Makes about 12 individual appetizers, 1 1/2 cups tapenade
- 1 cup dried figs, roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup green olives, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped (plus a few sprigs for garnish)
- 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
- 1 large Asian pear
- 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese, store-bought or homemade (use Jennifer Perillo's recipe!)
- In a small saucepan, combine the figs and water and bring to a simmer. Cook until the liquid evaporates and the figs are soft, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and when cool, puree until smooth.
- In a small bowl, stir together the fig puree, olives, oil, vinegar, salt, thyme leaves and walnuts. Taste for seasoning. The tapenade can be prepared ahead of time. Cover it and set aside at room temperature.
- When ready to serve, slice the Asian pear cross-wise into roughly 12 1/4 inch slices (the very middle ones will have some core that you can cup out). Arrange the slices on a serving platter. Scoop about 1 tablespoon of ricotta cheese on to each slice and spread gently. Top each with 1 tablespoon of tapenade (you will have extra tapenade leftover). Garnish with a sprig of thyme and serve.