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  • Writer's pictureCulinary Cam

Fig Leaf-Wrapped Cheese

In preparation for July's Eat the World event, I picked up a copy of Bethlehem: A Celebration of Palestinian Food by Fadi Kattan. Truth be told, I heard an interview with the author on NPR weeks before and ordered the book based on the description of the fig salad. Just fresh figs, olive oil, and sumac. I love simple preparations that showcase an in-season fruit or vegetable.



As I perused the recipes, there were several that I flagged, but Cheese-Stuffed Grape Leaves was one that I definitely wanted to try. My only issue: I was having a hard time finding grape leaves. I used to be able to get them in a jar at Whole Foods, but they told me that they weren't ordering them anymore as they weren't a popular seller. Drat.


Then I was out on the patio and noticed all of the fig leaves on Jake's trees. They looked similar to grape leaves in size and asked if I could pick some. He agreed.


Ingredients


Cheese Parcels

  • 6 to 8 large fresh fig leaves

  • 1 round queso blanco (traditional would be Akkawi or Nabulsi cheese, but Kattan said any fresh cheese)

  • 1 Tablespoon raisins

  • olive oil

  • 1 tomato, thinly sliced

  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons za'atar seasoning (find my recipe in this post)


Dressing

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

  • pinch of salt

  • 5 sprigs fresh mint

  • 1 Tablespoon za'atar seasoning

  • water, as needed


Procedure

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.


Blanch fig leaves in slightly salted water until they are pliable, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and set aside.


Place raisins in a small bowl and cover them with cold water. Let them soak for 5 to 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.


Place 2 to 3 blanched fig leaves in a baking dish, oriented so that the can be wrapped around the cheese round. Place the cheese in the center. Sprinkle with za'atar and dot with raisins. Layer the tomatoes on the top and drizzle with olive oil.


Pull the edges of the leaves up, then tuck more leaves around so that the cheese and fillings are completely enclosed. Drizzle with more olive oil and cover the baking dish with foil.


Place the parcel in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. While the cheese bakes, make the dressing by placing all of the ingredients in a blended. Blitz until a pesto-like sauce forms.


To serve, remove the parcel to a serving platter. Open the leaves carefully and drizzle with the sauce. Serve immediately.

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