Labneh Stuffed Figs
By Alison Norquist / Arab America Contributing Writer
Figs have been a staple food in the Arab world for centuries. As one of the first cultivated and domesticated food crops in human history, figs provide a delicious, sweet addition to any recipe it is part of. The fruit is high in natural sugar, is a good source of fiber, and contains many important minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and copper. Furthermore, figs are also a good source of antioxidants as well.
Fruits have been stuffed with sweet and savory fillings for longer than civilization can remember. While stuffed dates have become a cocktail party staple in the states, usually filled with cheese and then wrapped in bacon, figs haven’t had as much time in the American culinary limelight. In fact, most non-Arab Americans only know of figs from the popular pastry/cookie, Fig Newtons. But this lack of education is devastating when one considers not only how nutritious figs are but also the fact that they are just simply delicious.
In this recipe, the traditional yogurt cheese labneh is paired with honey and pistachios for a sweet yet tangy h’or douvre or snack. You can always swap out the pistachios for other nuts like walnuts, almonds, or pine nuts. Pomegranate molasses is a great alternative to honey if you have it, as is a balsamic syrup.
For the Labneh
1 cup full fat greek yogurt
1/2 tsp salt
For the Figs
12 fresh figs
1/4 cup pistachios, crushed
1/4 cup honey, to taste
1 tsp orange zest
To make the labneh, mix the salt and yogurt in a bowl. To strain, place a piece of cheesecloth inside a strainer over a bowl. Empty the yogurt into the strainer, folding the corners of the cheese clothing and wringing out the liquid. Place in the fridge overnight. Discard the strained liquid and remove the cheese from the cloth. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
Stuffing the Figs
Wash and cut the figs into quarters, making sure not to cut all the way through the flesh. This will allow the figs to open wide enough for filling but remain intact so they can be handled.
In a bowl, combine the zest, labneh, and a drizzle of honey. Carefully spreading the figs open, gently spread the cheese evenly amongst the quarters. Sprinkle with crushed pistachios and drizzle with remaining honey as desired.
If you wish to serve warmed, place in 350 degrees preheated oven for 15-20 minutes after adding filling and covering with nuts. Drizzle with honey after baking.
It can be made up to a day in advance, and refrigerated until ready to eat.
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