"On the beautiful Greek island of Corfu, there’s a tradition that sees dried figs mixed with spices and wrapped in fig leaves, ready to be sliced as a snack with ouzo and a range of mezedes. The leaf wrapped parcel also makes a delicious centre piece served with cheese - we love that Kathy uses ouzo, toasted aniseed and pink peppercorns in her mix." Maeve O'Meara, Food Safari Earth
This fig-leaf wrapped parcel is screaming for a cheese platter.
- 145 g (1 cup) sesame seeds
- 200 g walnuts
- ½ tsp aniseed
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tsp pink peppercorns
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 cloves, ground (or 1 tsp ground cloves)
- 2 tbsp petimezi (grape molasses)
- 250 ml (1 cup) good quality honey (such as Attiki)
- 125 ml (½ cup) ouzo, plus extra for packing
- 1½ kg good quality dried Greek figs
- fresh fig leaves, washed well and pat dried (or plastic wrap), for wrapping
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.
Standing time overnight
Toast the sesame seeds, walnuts and aniseed one by one in a dry frying pan over low-medium heat. Pound the aniseeds in a mortar and pestle until finely ground. Add to the sesame seeds and walnuts, along with black pepper, pink peppercorns, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Add the petimezi, honey and ouzo and mix well.
Pulse the dried figs in a food processor until finely chopped – you might need to do this in two batches. Add to the seed and spice mixture and mix well by hand to incorporate everything evenly – you might like to wear gloves as the mixture is quite sticky.
There are a few ways to package the fig paste. To make one big celebratory round of fig paste, lightly oil a 20 cm round cake tin and line with fresh fig leaves, bottom-side down and leaving the sides overhanging (or plastic wrap if you don’t have fig leaves). Using hands lightly dampened with ouzo, firmly pack the paste into the lined tin and fold over the leaves, adding more to cover if necessary. Cover the top with baking paper and weigh down with a couple of tins and stand overnight.
To package in smaller portions, take small amounts, wrap in plastic wrap or squares of muslin lined with baking paper and roll into logs before securing the ends with butcher’s string. Alternatively, to wrap the paste directly in fresh fig leaves, mould the fig paste into balls, flatten them, then wrap them in fresh leaves that have been washed and carefully dried, then tie using butcher’s string.
Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Emma Warren. Creative concept by Belinda So.