It's probably been only a few years since these bite sized versions hit our shores but they have certainly proved to be exceedingly popular. When purchasing though, you need to make sure you are getting the freshest versions - they can go hard with time so it's important to give them a bit of a feel to make sure they are still soft.
Nutritionally, Dried Figs are high in Vitamin K - Vitamin K is a clotting agent and is thought to help with maintaining good bone density.
This week I'll be using these figs in an usual manner. Since having a dish of Saganaki with Peppered Figs at Hellenic Republic, not only have I been dreaming about it, I've been dying to make it myself and luckily I came across George's recipe for the dish...and the rest is history.
Saganaki with Peppered Figs
Kasseri (Kefalotyri or Kefalograviera), sliced
250 grams dried baby Turkish figs (or your favourite dried Fig)
40 grams honey
25mls balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 vanilla pod, sliced open & seeds removed
Make the peppered figs:
When using whole cloves I always count them - this makes removing them at the end a lot easier and you won't have any "nasty" surprises when it comes to enjoying the dish.
Put the figs, honey, balsamic, pepper, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, cloves, vanilla pod & seeds into a pan. Top with enough water to cover the ingredients.
Cut out a piece of baking paper just big enough to fit inside the pot and press it against the liquid. Simmer over a low heat until the figs have softened and the liquid has reduced.
If you find the liquid hasn't reached that syrupy level by the time the figs are done, remove the figs, increase the heat and let the mix rapidly bubble until syrupy. Return the figs to pan, stir well and remove from the heat.
You can store them in a sealed container in the fridge - reheat when you are ready to use them.
Cook the saganaki:
Place a little plain flour into a dish - toss the cheese slice in flour, brushing off the excess.
Lightly oil a heavy-based non-stick or cast-iron skillet - place over medium heat. When well heated, place the cheese slice in the pan. When you see the edges are bubbling and have started to soften, carefully turn it over. The cheese should be golden. When the other side is done, top with the heated peppered figs and serve at once.
The cheese will harden as it cools so it is best to serve it in the dish it was cooked to retain as much heat as possible.
The combination of sweet, fragrant and peppery figs is just a magical combination and served with saganaki it truly is one of those great dishes.