Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich’s recipe for fig and feta pide
Autumn is when we like to go away. The hectic holiday season is over; beaches and restaurants all around the Med are empty of us sun-crazed Northerners; the sun, who has mostly exhausted her heat in the summer, is now kinder, more gentle. This is when everyone without kids in school goes away, so we board a plane to a Mediterranean shore with the very young, the retired and the gay.
And so it is that our holidays are always flavoured with figs – late season, still warm from the summer sun.
We have strong memories of a tree on a rural road on a Greek island. It was laden with the most amazingly sweet figs, as many as you could stomach. We would drive there especially.
We remember tearing ourselves from work after an exhausting summer to head to the Balearic Islands. We were greeted in a hotel carpark by a huge fig tree. We parked our little rental car in its shade and took our first bite of the summer – it was then and there that our holiday started.
We all have our little milestones in the year, those recurring events that make us pause and think, “This time last year…” or “This time next year…” The Proms, the first magnolia tree blooming, fireworks on Guy Fawkes’ night. For us it’s always autumn, and it is always flavoured with figs. It is when the Jewish year starts; it is when the Day of Atonement falls; it is when we got married. All those sweet and serious life moments are connected by the honeyed sweetness, the resiny undertone, the giving flesh and the crunch of seeds in a fig.
For the dough
sugar 1 tsp
salt 1 tsp
freshly ground black pepper ½ tsp
nigella seeds 1 tbsp
cayenne pepper a pinch
fresh yeast 15g, or 1 sachet (7g) dried active yeast
honey 1 tsp
For the filling
dried oregano ½ tsp
sumac ½ tsp (you could substitute with zest of 1 lemon)
For the toppings
green chilli 1
olive oil 3 tbsp
figs 6-8 (depending on size)
baby spinach 1 small bag, washed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh thyme a few sprigs, or a pinch of dried oregano
Place the flour, sugar, salt, black pepper, nigella seeds and cayenne pepper in a large mixing bowl. Dissolve the yeast in 100ml water and stir in the honey, then add this, along with the yoghurt, to the dry ingredients. Knead together to form a nice, supple dough (you can use a mixer with a dough hook if you wish, but it is really easy to mix by hand). Cover the bowl with a cloth or clingfilm, set in a warm place and allow the dough to double in size. It will take about 1 hour in a warm room, slightly longer if it’s cold.
Make the filling by crumbling the feta into a small bowl and mixing with the yoghurt, oregano and sumac to create a paste.
For the topping, slice the green chilli into rounds, place in a small dish and cover with the olive oil. Cut the figs into 4-5 slices.
Once the dough has proved, divide it into 6 evenly sized lumps. Roughly stretch each piece into an oval boat-shape measuring around 20cm long and 8cm wide. Put a tablespoon of the feta filling on each, spreading it over the centre. Add a handful of baby spinach, then slices of fig. Top with the chilli slices and the oil, using it all up. Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with some leaves from the sprigs of thyme or dried oregano.
Pinch the sides of the dough up around the edges, then pinch each end of the oval into a point to create a pide boat. Leave to prove again and, while you are waiting, heat your oven to 200C fan/gas mark 7. By the time the oven is up to temperature, the boats will be ready to pop in. Bake for 10-12 minutes until beautifully golden. Serve warm.