Shane uses black Genoa figs when they are in season for their sweet, rich flavour; we’ve reconstituted dried ones. Shane also makes his own labneh (see recipe below), but for convenience, we’ve used store-bought labneh.
8 large dried figs, stems removed
60 ml (¼ cup) sherry vinegar (see Note)
2 tbsp brown sugar
8 thin slices basturma (see Note)
4 labneh balls (see Note), thickly sliced
baby herbs or chopped coriander leaves, to serve
2 tbsp honey
60 ml (¼ cup) sherry vinegar
1 tbsp orange-blossom water (see Note)
½ lemon, juiced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 spring onions, white part only, finely chopped
2 tsp fennel seeds, toasted, lightly crushed
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 figs, vinegar, sugar and 375 ml water in a small pan, bring to the boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes or until figs are plump and softened. Remove from heat and cool in liquid.
Meanwhile, to make dressing, whisk together honey, vinegar, orange-blossom water, lemon juice and oil in a bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients and season with salt.
Drain figs, halve them and place on a plate, drizzle over dressing and top with basturma, labneh and baby herbs or coriander.
Sherry vinegar is available from delis. Substitute red wine vinegar.
Basturma (also known as pastourma), available from delis, is salted air-dried beef that’s coated in a chilli and spice mixture.
Labneh balls are available from selected delis and Middle Eastern food shops.
Orange-blossom water is available from Middle Eastern food shops and selected delis.
To make labneh, place 1 kg natural yoghurt in a conical strainer lined with 3 layers of muslin, allowing muslin to extend 10 cm over sides. Suspend over a deep bowl and fold in muslin to cover yoghurt. Place a heavy weight on top and refrigerate for 2 days, discarding drained liquid each day, or until yoghurt is thick enough to hold its shape when rolled into egg-sized balls. Roll balls in a mixture of 1 tbsp Aleppo pepper* and 2 tbsp zaatar*. Place in a jar, cover with olive oil and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Makes about 10 balls. (*Available from Middle Eastern food shops and specialist spice shops.)
Drink 2009 Nicholson River Chardonnay, Gippsland, Victoria
As seen in Feast magazine, Issue 9, pg94.
Photography by Derek Swalwell.