‘Tis the Season to make TAPENADE! Tapenades make a festive and practical hostess gift, a quick and easy impromtu hors d’oeuvres addition, and they are all just too darn easy to make. A voluptuous fig crop helped this year, and special thanks to neighbors and friends Buddy and Kristen for the ripe supply.

Here are a few ideas for tapenade. I like sweet and salty, so these all feature that theme. It is very easy to adjust a tapenade recipe to your own tastes. Use similar ingredients in roughly the same quantities and the consistency will be fine. Go slow and do not over process, as you want the tapenade on the chunky, textural side.

Now let’s whip something up (I heard you have company coming).

Begin by roasting about 3/4 cup of pine nuts (to have on hand as an optional addition) in a single layer at 300 degrees until brown, just a few minutes and roll them around for even browning.

Into the same oven goes some garlic cloves and rosemary drizzled lightly with olive oil …

While you are toasting and roasting chop up about 4 cups of fresh figs, or 3 cups dried figs, and add to your food processor.

Add about 4 cups of PITTED Kalamata olives, dried or jarred, don’t bother chopping unless you’re paranoid about cracking a crown.

Add the juice from half a lemon, a couple of tablespoons of capers (I use the little ones for this, not those jumbos that double as cocktail garnish!) about 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary (after roasting) all of the garlic, 2 generous tablespoons of honey, a teaspoon or so of coarse grain mustard, some dried fruit if you used fresh figs (dates, prunes, raisins anything to add some sweetness and texture) and about 1/4 cup of olive oil.

Pulse until this starts to come together, and add more olive oil, up to 1/4 more. You can taste and add salt if you like, but even for the Sodium Dependents (like me) this is pretty salty anyway. Do what you do. Things should look like this…

Ok, It looks better in the jar.

As I mentioned, you can change this recipe very easily. Swap out figs for a jar of roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes (about 2 cups, 1 in oil and 1 dried version) as well as 1 cup of dried cherries or cranberries for a pretty red version! Or go all green olives just use dates for sweetness to maintain the green color.

I like to do several kinds while I have Johnny out (I have named my Cuisinart Johnny after John Cusak, who I have been in love with since The Journey of Natty Gann . Oh Jeez, that was a Disney flick. Oh, well. Seemed steamy at the time. (They did kiss in the end right? Maybe I made that up. Lady and Tramp kissed so I can’t be that far off.) In any case, do it up while things are dirty. I buy half pint jars and the finished products go right in. Unprocessed, they can be stored for up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator, at the ready for whatever comes your way.

There you go! Instant party! Enjoy.

For more recipes, naughty and nice check out the book!