“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,” says Sarit Packer.
For the dough:
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1⁄2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp nigella seeds
a pinch of cayenne pepper
15g fresh yeast or 1 sachet (7g) dried active yeast
1 tsp honey
For the filling:
1⁄2 tsp dried oregano
1⁄2 tsp sumac (you could substitute with zest of 1 lemon)
For the toppings:
1 green chilli
3 tbsp olive oil
6–8 figs (depending on size)
1 small bag of washed baby spinach
salt and freshly ground black pepper
a few sprigs of fresh thyme 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 of water and stir in the honey, then add this, along with the yogurt, 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 cling film, 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 yogurt, 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 220°C/200°C fan/425°F/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.
From Honey & Co. at home: Middle Eastern Recipes from our Kitchen by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich. £26, Pavilion Books. Photography by Patricia Niven.