A Mediterranean Apéro: Fig Tapenade & Herbes de Provence Cashew Cheese

August 19, 2016

You know when you have a close friend, but haven’t spoken to them in a while and it’s pretty much your fault. They’ve sent you a text message, an email, a facebook inbox, and even tried to call you. But because you were working when you saw the message (and promised yourself to answer back as soon as you got off work…and then forgot), or driving when they called, or because you just have a very busy life and don’t necessarily have your sh*t together, you never got back to them. And then days go by, weeks, and then months. This feeling of guilt slowly starts to creep up inside you, but you feel too embarrassed to reach out to your friend because so much time has gone by since the last time you heard from them. One day you finally wake up realizing that if any more time goes by, you will end up losing your friend. So you pick up the phone, prepared for what might be a long talk – awkward at first … soooo how’s life? are you still seeing that guy? what’s his name again? oh no? I’m sorry… and then the ice gets broken and the resentment in your friend’s voice becomes less audible.. finally you guys are best friends again and you promise to stay in touch more regularly. Well let’s just say that I’m that person who hasn’t quite figured out how to commit to communicating with her friend on a regular basis. And my friend is this blog.

It’s literally been forever since my last post. I’m not even sure if I want my approach to be the same. Should I use this as a platform to let go of my thoughts, feelings, doubts, and secrets in all honesty? Or should I keep it strictly business: a few anecdotes here, a couple tries at making a joke there, and some overall comments on the recipes? Honestly, I don’t have a clue. All I know is that I want to keep going and that, by overthinking everything, I end up being stuck and not doing anything. I’m still cooking. I still have ideas. I’m still taking pictures. And I will still post new recipes here.

I’ve already made this intro quite long, so I won’t go too much into details here about the two recipes I’m sharing today. All you need to know is that I went to the South of France this summer, and there the apéritif is an essential part of family dinners. Essentially, the “apéro” consists of finger foods and drinks. But the rule is that, before you can touch the food, everyone around the dinner table has to cling their glasses, look each other into the eyes, and say cheers to one another. Then only, can you dig in. This fig tapenade and herbed cashew cheese are inspired from Mediterranean flavors and are sure to please everyone! The fig tapenade is the perfect amounts of sweet, pairing perfectly with the creamy and herby “cheese” (please DO NOT expect to feel like you’re actually eating cheese). It’s the perfect summer apéro that will make the best impression on your guests – or your own tummy for that matter. Bon appétit!


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Fig tapenade – serves: 6-8 | prep time: 5 min | cooking time: none

Ingredients:

  • 8 turkish dried figs
  • 1½ cup Kalamata olives (or a 12oz jar)
  • 1 heaping tbsp dried herbes de Provence
  • 2 tbsp Modena balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt & fresh pepper, to taste
  • Mary’s Crackers, for serving (optional)

Preparation:

Start by draining the liquid from the jar of olives, and coarsely chop the figs. Place all the ingredients in your food processor and blend until the tapenade reaches a smooth, homogenous consistency.

Serve right away or place in the fridge if you prefer a chilled tapenade.


Herbes de Provence Cashew Cheese – serves: 6-8 | prep time: overnight + 1hr 10min | cooking time: none

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 heaping tbsp Herbes de Provence, divided
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped very thinly
  • 2-3 tbsp filtered water + more for the soaking
  • sea salt, to taste
  • Mary’s Crackers, for serving (optional)

Preparation:

The day before you plan on making your cashew cheese, soak the cashews in filtered water – just enough so that all the cashews are covered. Place in the fridge, and let sit overnight or for at least 3 hours.

Once the cashews are well soaked, rinse them well and place them in a food processor. Add the lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast, 1 tbsp Herbes de Provence, 2 tbsp filtered water, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix for about 30 seconds and scrape the sides of the food processor, adding an extra tbsp of water if the mixture is too thick. Continue blending until completely smooth.

Scoop out the cashew mixture onto the lower edge of a rectangular piece of parchment paper and form a log horizontally. Then roll the cashew cheese in the parchment paper until tightly wrapped. Seal in both edges of the log and place in the fridge for at least an hour.

In a small bowl, mix the remaining tbsp of Herbes de Provence with the freshly chopped thyme and spread the mixture over the surface of flat plate. Once the cashew cheese as firmed up, roll it into the herbs mix until completely and evenly covered.

Serve immediately with crackers and the fig tapenade. :)

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