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I’ve had two things on my mind recently. France, Provence to be exact, and college football. What? Yes, I know that the south of France and football don’t go together. Especially when you’re talking football, not fútbol.

We’ve been enjoying some wonderful Rosés during the heat of August. They’re dry and crisp with hints of melon; perfect for a hot summer’s day. They pair beautifully with a light late summer meal. The heat of August also means college football is right around the corner and that means tailgating. Lots of tailgating. Hence, the mingling of the two in my mind.

Many Provençal foods would be perfect for a tailgate. Pissaladiére, salade Niçoise, olive fougasse are all wonderful, make-ahead foods that travel easily. However, a tapenade might just be the easiest, most flavorful food at any get-together. This recipe, with the addition of the dried figs, combines sweet and salty for a sugary yet earthy taste.

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Fig and Olive Tapenade

  • 5oz dried Black Mission figs, chopped
  • 5oz dry-cured black olives, pitted
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1 Tble capers, rinsed
  • 1 Tble good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tble fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp anchovy paste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • freshly cracked black pepper

Place chopped figs in the bowl of a food processor. With blade running, pour 1/4 cup boiling water through the hole in the top until a thick paste forms. Add olives, olives, garlic, capers, vinegar, thyme, lemon juice and anchovy paste. Pulse until olives, garlic and capers are finely chopped and mixture is like a paste. With blade running again, drizzle olive oil through the hole. Pulse to mix all ingredients together. Remove tapenade to a bowl, cove and refrigerate until ready to use. Serve with crackers.

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Notes:

  • I served mine with some multi-grain crackers, goat cheese and two kinds of walnuts; spiced and candied.
  • It’s better to make this at least one day ahead to allow the flavors to blend.
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