Day 159: Chicken Shawarma and Fig Olive Tapenade

OK, here’s the thing: I had planned to make a cold Japanese buckwheat noodle dish for dinner tonight; I even bought fresh buckwheat noodles and marinated the tofu. But I was speaking at the Diabetes Expo up at SAIT this afternoon, which happens to be a couple blocks south of 20th Avenue NW, directly in line with Jimmy’s A&A Deli. We aren’t in that area of town very often, and when we are, if it’s anywhere near eating time we take advantage of our proximity to the very best shawarmas in the city. A medium ($8) is huge enough to feed us both – I have seen them loading up a large ($10), and cannot fathom how they close the pita after piling on handful after handful of perfectly spiced shredded chicken. Honestly, you could take it home, unwrap it and feed a family of 4.

So you understand then why when Mike came to pick me up at 5 and all of us were tired and hungry we would pop over to see if there was a lineup. There wasn’t, so we sat in the car and shared a shawarma (W pulls chunks of chicken out for himself, and there’s plenty to spare) while the rain hammered the roof and we thoroughly steamed the windows. If you ever try one of Jimmy’s shawarmas, ensure you have a stack of napkins or a beach towel on hand, or eat them outside in flip flops and run through the sprinkler afterward. All of us ended up with so much garlicky sauce down our fronts that we had to do a load of laundry as soon as we got home.

Speaking of getting home, we drove right past Peter’s (Drive In) on the way, and even though it was a Saturday afternoon in June there was no one in line due to the torrenial downpour, so we really had no choice but to go and get a hot fudge sundae. (Generally on weekends in June Peter’s is packed with wedding and grad limos along with the thousand or so regular customers.) It’s like when you drive past Tim Horton’s and there’s no lineup, but even though you’ve already had a coffee you have to go get one anyway just because you can.

(I should point out that Mike an I are sharers of food. Some might find it odd that rather than get two small shawarmas we share a medium; really, it`s a great way to save money and calories. Similarly, whenever we need a burger and fries we share one order, and at Peter`s we always split a sundae; we`ve never gone and ordered two. Mike said once that I should write a book about it. It would be a mighty short read: Chapter One. Share stuff. The end.)

So when we got home around 6, making dinner didn’t seem like such a great idea after all.

But I did have to test a recipe for an article I’m working on on the subject of figs. I’ve heard of various versions of an olive tapenade made with figs, and so thought I’d give it a whirl (literally, in my food processor). I am a huge fan of fig jam with goat cheese spread onto anything; I suspect this would be equally delicious. Or perhaps turned into panini…


Fig & Olive Tapenade

Recipe link


June 7, 2008

  • Makes: Makes almost 2 cups; will keep the fridge for a week or so.


half a 250 g package of dried figs

1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted

1 Tbsp. capers, drained

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp. olive or canola oil

a few sprigs of fresh thyme or one of rosemary, leaves pulled off the stems


1Make sure your dried figs are nice and plump; if not, pour boiling water over them and let them sit for 20 minutes or so, then drain them well. Put everything into a food processor and pulse until as chunky or finely blended as you like; add a little extra oil if you need some more liquid to help move it along.

Makes: Makes almost 2 cups; will keep the fridge for a week or so.

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7 comments on “Day 159: Chicken Shawarma and Fig Olive Tapenade

  1. Dana mccauley
    June 8, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Cool – I would never think of figs with black olives. Must give this a try. Thanks for a cool idea.

  2. Shaun
    June 9, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    I love your Woodward’s bowl. Brought back lots of memories of the Macleod (?) Room at Chinook. Oh, and the food looks awesome, too.

  3. Marisa
    April 23, 2009 at 5:02 am

    That looks insanely delicious – will have to try that out when it’s fig season again.

    PS: I love your blog! I’m hoping it will inspire me to update my own blog more regularly.

  4. penny
    March 29, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    My husband & I love listening to your mouthwatering creations on CBC. Unfortunately, we are both of a certain age & need to watch sodium intake. Your recipe with the salsa, peanut butter & chicken thighs really interested us but have you looked at the sodium content in commercial salsas lately? Don’t even get me started on commercial soups – they say “sodium reduced” and the content is still crazy. I do try to make my own most of the time but sometimes I find interesting combinations I’d like to try. Help!!!

  5. Nanci
    June 26, 2011 at 8:56 am

    I love the salty/sweet combo in this spread. It sounds fabulous!!!
    My sisters and I just started our first themed blog hop over at http://everydaysisters.blogspot.com every Sunday!. This weeks theme is appetizers. We would love for you to come over and share these or any of your favorite appetizer recipes with our blog readers. Have a great weekend.

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