Working with caramel may seem intimidating but in this case you needn’t worry; the juicy fruit would be fine even if the caramel is slightly crystallised or lumpy. They won’t forgive you, though, if the caramel burns. So you need to work fast when the caramel reaches the desired colour and, when adding more sugar, not to worry if not all of it has melted before adding the fruit. And if you find this reassuring, I’ll let you know that I burnt my caramel once or twice during this scene (but that was just because I was trying too hard to look cute for the camera).
- 100 g caster sugar
- 16 fresh figs, cut in half lengthways (530 g net)
- 4 medium oranges, topped and tailed, peeled and sliced into 1cm thick rounds (750 g net)
- 1½ tbsp lemon juice
- 1⅓ tbsp Raki, Pernod or another aniseed-flavoured liqueur
- 1 tsp aniseed or fennel seed, lightly toasted
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 80 ml olive oil
- 200 g soft goat's cheese or feta, roughly crumbled into 1 cm chunks
- ¾ tbsp oregano, small leaves whole and larger ones chopped
- 60 g rocket
- coarse sea salt and black pepper
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Place a large frying pan on a medium heat and add half of the sugar. Leave for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it turns a golden caramel; don’t stir the sugar at this stage. Once nice and golden, add half the figs, cut side down. Cook for 2 minutes until starting to soften, before turning to cook for a further minute. Remove from the pan and add the second batch of figs and repeat the cooking process. You might need to add a tablespoon or two of water to the pan if the figs aren’t very juicy.
Add the remaining sugar to the pan, return to the heat and let it start to caramelise before adding the oranges and leaving for 1 minute on each side. They should take on a rich caramel colour. Remove and add to the plate of figs. Take the caramel off the heat and whisk in the lemon juice, alcohol, aniseeds or fennel seeds, garlic, ¾ teaspoon of salt and a generous grind of black pepper. Once combined whisk in the olive oil and set aside.
Arrange the oranges and figs on a large platter and dot with the feta pieces. Drizzle over any juices left on the fruit plate followed by the dressing. Sprinkle with the picked oregano and rocket and serve.
View all the recipes from Ottolenghi's Mediterranean Island Feast.