Seared Duck with Roasted Walnuts and Green Olive Tapenade

Seared Duck with Roasted Walnuts and Green Olive Tapenade

Fresh walnut and olive tapenade is the perfect complement to this succulent duck first course.


  • 1 1/4 cups unshelled California walnuts
  • 4 cups green olives, large, pitted
  • 1/3 cup capers, drained
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons thyme, fresh, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons walnut oil
  • 1/4 cup, plus more as needed, olive oil, extra-virgin
  • 6 halves duck breast, boned with skin on (each 7-8 ounces, 3 pounds total)
  • Coarse salt as needed
  • Black pepper, fresh ground, as needed


  1. Spread unshelled walnuts on baking sheet and place in preheated 350°F oven for 25 minutes. Cool. Shell nuts and break into pieces. Set aside.
  2. To make tapenade, in food processor chop olives coarsely. Add capers, garlic, thyme, orange juice and walnut oil and process just to combine. With motor running, add enough olive oil to make a mixture that is finely textured, but not a puree, and is just thick enough to hold its shape. Set aside. You will have about 1 3/4 cups tapenade.
  3. With long, sharp knife, score skin side of duck breasts in diamond pattern. Season generously with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  4. Film skillet with olive oil and place over medium-high heat. When hot, cook breast halves, skin side down for 3-4 minutes, until well-browned. Turn and cook 3 minutes more, until well-browned outside yet rare inside. Remove from pan and let rest a minute or two.
  5. Cut each breast half into lengthwise diagonal slices. Fan slices and place on plate. Place about 1/4 cup tapenade at the side and sprinkle with walnut pieces.


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