Dried Fig and Olive Tapenade

This easy dip combines pantry staples I always have on hand—dried figs, good olives, capers, balsamic vinegar, and my best fruit-forward extra-virgin olive oil. Pulsed into a chunky tapenade, this quick appetizer marries olives’ briny, fruity, and sweet flavors with the woodsy aroma of fresh rosemary.

Though brain health qualities of olive oil are well-documented, many people don’t think of the olives themselves as brain food. They are! Like their oil, whole olives provide a brain-friendly fat profile and antioxidant punch that comes from a high concentration of polyphenols and vitamin E. Not to mention, there are perks to eating the whole olive rather than pressed into an oil since their fiber content can ameliorate the blood sugar spiking that happens after a meal. Figs are also brimming with brain-healthy polyphenols, like the catechins EGCG, EGC, and EC, on par with levels found in green tea and red wine.

This tapenade is equally delicious with black Kalamata, green Castevetrano, or even the pimiento-stuffed olives used in martinis. When available, I prefer the freshness of olives found in the bulk section of many grocery stores, but shelf-stable, jarred olives work just as well. If you have the time, buy unpitted olives and remove the pits yourself. Unpitted olives absorb less of the salt from the brine and retain their fresh, fruity flavor longer. Serve the tapenade with lots of fresh vegetables for dipping, like cucumber slices, sugar snap peas, and multi-colored carrots.

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