Make Ahead

Fig and Olive Tapenade

January 14, 2011
6 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 8 as a party snack
Author Notes

I love figs. I love olives. I always have a good supply of both on hand. I wanted a spread to go with crostini for an impromptu gathering one evening, and I went searching to see what I had in my pantry. I came out with a jar of Kalamata olives, a jar of big, green, pimiento-stuffed martini olives, and a box of dried Mission figs. Fifteen minutes later, I had this tapenade, and I still have people asking for the recipe. —Kayb

Test Kitchen Notes

This is our new throw-together-10-minutes-before-the-guests-show-up appetizer. The figs and olives strike a lovely balance of savory and sweet, with the balsamic vinegar adding twang and the rosemary anchoring the spread with its woodsy scent. We made ours in a food processor and loved the fine texture, but chop it all rustic-like if you prefer. Crackers or crostini are a must, but serve it with fresh goat cheese (or parmesan, or blue) for even more party karma. - A&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 4 ounces dried figs
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup pimiento-stuffed green olives
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  1. Mince figs and olives finely (or, if you prefer a finer texture, pulse a few times in the food processor).
  2. Add rosemary, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil and mix (or process). You may need to add a little more olive oil to get to the texture and consistency you want.
  3. Serve as a dip or spread with crostini and crackers. I like to serve it alongside goat cheese.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Kandy Kappler
    Kandy Kappler
  • meeshybells
  • Kaite
  • Jaxmccaff
  • Kate
I'm a business professional who learned to cook early on, and have expanded my tastes and my skills as I've traveled and been exposed to new cuisines and new dishes. I love fresh vegetables, any kind of protein on the grill, and breakfasts that involve fried eggs with runny yolks. My recipes tend toward the simple and the Southern, with bits of Asia or the Mediterranean or Mexico thrown in here and there. And a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on a float in the lake, as pictured, is a pretty fine lunch!

54 Reviews

Kandy K. August 19, 2022
Could this be made with fresh figs?
fuhsi August 31, 2022
Did anyone answer your question, because I would like to know, too - and would the amount of fresh be equivalent to dry?
Kandy K. August 31, 2022
fuhsi, no I did not get an answer. Wish they would respond to our questions when asked.
marjorie L. December 25, 2021
Great flavor. Must use a sweet, expensive balsamic.. My guests loved it.
Lydia W. November 10, 2018
Great recipe. This is in regular rotation in our house and so easy to make! The goat cheese pairing knocks it out of the park.
Alicia January 2, 2017
I've had this recipe saved for some time but never made it. Then, my dad served it as an appetizer when a family friend came over for dinner. It was so delicious that my husband and I made it ourselves immediately for a New Year's Eve gathering. Everyone has been skeptical about the olive/fig combo, but they have all been won over by this delicious (and incredibly easy to make) dish! Goat cheese and crostini paired with this for the win!
meeshybells December 19, 2015
Hi. I added @2 tbsps of pomegranate molasses, 1/4 c fresh parsley, and 1/4 cup walnuts. I'm going to try it with a clove of fresh garlic as well. Great recipe to be creative with. Thanks for posting. This would work just as well with just the green olives.
Tereza September 9, 2015
Ann July 28, 2015
My "tapenade" had a very strong fig taste. I used Mission figs--all the market had that day--and thought I measured the figs carefully. Anyway, I liked the recipe but was disappointed that I simply could not taste the olives at all. I'd like to make the recipe again, just not sure whether to add fewer figs or more olives!!!!
Kayb July 29, 2015
Odd. Maybe it was the kind of olives? I'd certainly add more olives -- quantities in this recipe are something of an estimation, anyway!
Kaite June 9, 2015
I made this yesterday and was quite disappointed as I kept getting a really strong bitter taste towards the end. I suspected it was from the kalamata olives. I let it sit in the fridge for a few hours and the bitterness mellowed out. I can't say I'm in love with this but it is a quick and tasty recipe. Perhaps I'll try it tonight to see how it tastes.

Instead of serving mine with the goat cheese everyone mentions, I bought a young manchego. The young manchego worked really well with the flavors of the tapenade due to its very mellow taste.
Kayb June 10, 2015
H'mm. Curious about the bitter, as well. I've never gotten that; I guess it's conceivable you could get that with olives, but I never have. I often leave it out on the counter for a few hours to mellow and let the flavors blend. And I can see it being excellent with a young manchego; I also love it with any Brie-ish cheese.
Jaxmccaff January 25, 2015
Love this recipe! So easy and such a big hit. I served it with crackers and goat cheese which really does pair beautifully with the 'tapenade'. This will be my go to appetizer for the winter!
Donna G. February 17, 2014
I make a very similar recipe, but without the green olives. i include anchovy and caper - it is absolutely fabulous. the key is to play with proportions so that the anchovy and caper do not dominate.
Kate December 27, 2013
Has anyone tried adding the traditional anchovies and capers to this?
Kayb December 28, 2013
I haven't, but if you do, please let us know how it is!
Aly W. November 26, 2013
I just made this ahead of time and so the flavors can marry. Amazing and tasty!
Nikki P. March 19, 2013
I have just made this and it is truly delicious but can someone tell me if I can freeze it, or if not, how long will it last in the fridge? Thanks!
Kayb March 19, 2013
I'm not sure how well it'd freeze, but it lasts a LONG time in the fridge. Longer than I've ever had occasion to keep it, the longest being a couple of weeks before it was gone.
Nikki P. April 1, 2013
In reply to my own question, I decided to freeze it in small tubs and defrosted overnight for a dinner party on Easter Sunday. It was PERFECT AND TASTED DELICIOUS on tiny crackers with a shaving of goats cheese on top. We served as canapés with a glass of champagne before the main went down very well!!
Kayb April 2, 2013
Excellent! Good to know.
Gracia E. March 4, 2013
We have a fig tree in our backyard, do you think this recipe would work with fresh figs? It looks delicious! I'll have to wait until late summer to try it.
Kayb March 4, 2013
It would seem to me that it should. Might be a bit more moist. I do envy you your fig tree1
rachaelmr December 3, 2012
I was very skeptical: but this was a HIT! at a gathering I recently went to. And I have to say it was all these great reviews that sold me - and I do love it, too. I paired my "appetizer contribution" with my goat cheese dip (which is just that big 365 goat log w/ a sexy olive oil, whipped until it is greenish w/ cracked pepper) - Ooh, La, La!
Kayb March 19, 2013
Glad you enjoyed! I actually paired it with fromage d'affinois the other night, and it was SO rich and marvelous!
gingerroot August 31, 2012
Hi Kayb, I've been meaning to tell you that I hosted an afternoon tea a few weeks ago for 60 people and I used this plus cream cheese and Italian parsley as one of the fillings. The sandwiches disappeared! Thanks for a great recipe.
Emilia R. March 6, 2013
gingerroot, what a wonderful idea!!!! I've been looking for a nice sandwich recipe--for parties--and your idea of this Tapenade + cream cheese + Italian parsley fits the bill!
Kayb March 19, 2013
Yum....that WOULD be good! Jotting that note....Thanks!
Ellen M. April 3, 2012
I may be the only person in the world who dislikes rosemary. Any suggestions for an alternative herb?
pierino April 3, 2012
I love rosemary but I wouldn't use it in an authentic tapenade. Now, thyme works very well.
Kayb March 19, 2013
I think you could use thyme or sage fairly easily. I just like rosemary.
pierino March 11, 2012
The missing ingredients are, most importantly capers as well as anchovies. The name itself, tapenade, comes from the provencale word for caper. I'm sorry but I'm a stickler on this stuff. It's not tapenade if it doesn't include olives, capers and anchovy. After that you can mess with it all you like. Or else call it something else.
jules October 1, 2020
You're an idiot...
BocaCindi December 30, 2011
I have to admit that I was a little hesitant to make this. It didn't seem like the flavors were going to meld. I tasted it right after I made it and still wasn't sure. I put it in the refrigerator for about a half an hour. Put goat's cheese on a cracker and a spoon of this on top. Very delicious. Intriguing flavor. And, best of all, the ingredients are all available either in the refrigerator or pantry. That is wonderful. Had to buy the rosemary. Cannot grow a rosemary plant, have a green thumb with every other plant. Enough about me. Try this, you'll really like it.
pamelalee November 27, 2011
I served this on Thanksgiving with crackers, stilton, and pears. My family loved it! I used calimyrna figs since I noticed the figs in your photo were light brown. Have you ever made this with missions figs? Thanks!
Kayb November 27, 2011
I usually use Mission figs, as that's the most common kind you find dried around here. Most any kind would work, I think. Glad you enjoyed!