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Vegetable tempura dipped in tapenade make for an utterly unique nibble in Cynthia Nims's Salty Snacks. To those used to dipping tempura in soy sauce and spreading tapenade on crackers, it may sound off-putting, but the two make better bedfellows than one might expect. In fact, the briny olive-caper-anchovy mixture is a perfect counterpoint to fried food, and the light grassiness of the beans takes well to delicate tempura batter. Still, you'll want a couple of small utensils on hand to help with serving, as the dip doesn't always adhere well to the beans (a quick smear with a butter knife or spoon solves the problem).
Why I picked this recipe: I'd never before seen tempura and tapenade together in one dish, so I was curious to try this unique snack.
What worked: The tapenade came together easily, and the frying went off without a hitch. Each bean had a delicate crunchy golden coating outside while remaining crisp-tender beneath.
What didn't: I had a hard time actually dipping the beans into the dip (most of the tapenade just slid right off). But when I smeared on the spread, I was greeted with a delightfully briny mouthful.
Suggested tweaks: Next time, I'd try blending the olives, capers, anchovies, and garlic to a smooth purée before adding the lemon and olive oil in hopes of forming a more dippable dip.