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Fig and Walnut Tapenade

I didn’t talk about my annual holiday party at all this year.  But I did have it and it was a lot of fun!  I had all kinds of plans to tell you about all the various dishes I was making.  But an auto accident a week prior and a cold that kept hanging on and sucking the life out of me prevented me from the early and relaxed schedule I’d been imagining.  Instead the day and a half before the party I ran around like a crazy person pulling it all together with no time to write or take photographs.  Dang it! 
I know the important thing is that my guests enjoyed themselves and I was able to provide a menu of items that I was proud of.  And the house was clean and organized, the fires welcoming, the Prosecco chilled.  All in all it was a successful evening.  Still, I hate not having been able to document it and share it with you.  But I hope to pull a few things together so I can tell you about them. 
One thing that was totally new this year was this Fig and Walnut Tapenade.  It’s the perfect blend of sweet and salty with a little crunch from the walnuts.  It’s flavorful enough to serve on its own with bread or crackers but you can add another layer of flavor and texture by serving it along with a fresh goat cheese.   The creamy, tanginess of the cheese really rounds out the flavors. 
Fig and Walnut Tapenade
adapted from Bon Appétit  
1 cup chopped stemmed dried figs
⅓ cup water
⅔ cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon drained capers, chopped
1½ teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
½ cup chopped toasted walnuts
Combine chopped figs and water in heavy medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until liquid evaporates and figs are soft, about 7 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl. Mix in olives, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, capers, and chopped thyme. Season tapenade to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.) Stir chopped walnuts into tapenade.  
Mound tapenade into serving bowl, drizzle with a little additional olive oil and serve.    
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