Almond Pinwheels

This tapenade uses almonds instead of olives as its base.

by Judith Hausman


Photo by Judith Hausman

Almond pinwheels are easy to make.

This not-exactly-local (in New York’s Hudson Valley anyway) offering began life as a spread that intrigued me. Instead of the usual olives, almonds are the base for this tapenade. Almonds are, after all, just as Mediterranean as the other stirring flavors in it: anchovies, capers and garlic.

Easily created from pantry items, this unusual hors d’oeuvres was a hit at book group and a conversation starter for sure. You can just enjoy the tapenade that way, served with crackers or pita triangles, but as I had so much leftover, I went further. I pulled a sheet of my trustee puff pastry (one of my secret weapons) out of the freezer. While it defrosted, I chopped up a few scallions for color and added them to the remaining tapenade, which I then spread all over the pastry. With a quick roll up, slice and bake, I turned the spread into adorable accompaniments for bowls of warming soup. And it was fun to make Sunday night leftovers into something special.

Classic olive tapenade or the pesto you froze last summer will also work beautifully as pinwheel filling. Maybe you even have leftover New Year’s champagne, instead of leftover soup, to enjoy with these easy but impressive canapés.

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  • 2 cups blanched, slivered almond
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons Sherry or red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 can oil-packed anchovies (4 to 5 filets)
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons capers


Pulse the almonds in a food processor until finely ground. Add the garlic, and pulse again briefly, as chunky or smooth as you prefer. Stir in the water and vinegar, and let stand for 20 to 30 minutes. Then add the remaining ingredients, and pulse briefly again just until mixed. Note: The recipe makes about 2 cups, considerably more than necessary for the pinwheels below.



  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted according to instructions on the box
  • 1 egg


On a lightly floured board, roll the pastry sheet out a little thinner. Then beat the egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush the wash over the sheet. Mix the chopped scallions in with the tapenade and spread about 1/2 cup of it over the sheet, nearly to the edges. Then carefully roll it up, starting at the shorter end. Brush on more egg wash, and chill the roll for 20 to 30 minutes to make it easier to slice. 

Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. With a serrated knife, carefully cut the roll into 3/4-inch slices and arrange them on an ungreased cookie sheet. (Parchment paper or a silicon baking sheet is helpful.) Brush on a bit more egg wash. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden. Cool slightly on a rack and serve.

Makes about a dozen pinwheels.

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