Date and walnut tapenade with goat cheese

Date and Walnut Tapenade with Goat Cheese recipe

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This is a twist on the classic olive tapenade from Provence. You can use toasted pine nuts in place of walnuts and cream cheese or another similar cheese in place of goat cheese. Garnish with fresh thyme or rosemary sprigs.

1 cup chopped dates
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives or other brine-cured black olives
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon drained capers, chopped
1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
Two 5-1/2-ounce logs soft fresh goat cheese, each cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1/2 cup toasted walnut halves

Combine chopped dates and 1/3 cup water in heavy medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until liquid evaporates and dates are soft, about 5 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 up to 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate, but bring to room temperature along with cheese before serving.

Arrange cheese pieces in circle on serving platter with room for tapenade in center. Stir chopped walnuts into tapenade; spoon into center of cheese circle. Arrange crackers and/or bread and garnish with walnut halves.

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