14 September 2010

Fig and Sausage Borek

"Borek" is a Turkish word meaning a stuffed phyllo pastry, usually in a triangle shape. But this is not a Turkish recipe. It is one of my own creation, born of the delight of finding fresh figs at one of my favorite quirky grocery stores.

The first time I tasted a fresh fig, I was nothing less than transported. I remember the grocery store I found them in, my curiosity and hesitancy. The first bite through the soft skin and into the succulent center burst onto my tongue and into my brain like stepping out of a dark house into a sweetly warm summer afternoon. The fresh fig does not blow you away with an intensity of flavor so much as it softly, surely seduces you. That first bite is forever branded into my physical memory, such that no other fig experience can some close to it.

The figs I bought this week were, predictably, shipped in from California. Bruised and battered from the long trip, they bore some resemblance to my "primal fig" but tasted watered down (though they did photograph beautifully, no?).

I decided it wouldn't be a travesty to cook them into something. Something worthy of that half-bottle of white wine waiting to be finished off. Quick check of available ingredients:
phyllo dough: check
figs: duh
sausage that also needs to be used very soon!: check
onions: check
olive oil: check
goat cheese: sorry (oh, so very sorry!)
old labaneh: check
egg: check
sage: check
salt and pepper: check, check
other cheese: check (mozzarella)

So! Sausage and Fresh Fig Borek with Sage and Mozzarella. Sounds like a title fit for any gourmet cookbook.

I got some onions sizzling in olive oil on the stove to which I added the sausage. Meanwhile, into about a cupful of old labaneh (a thick strained-yogurt cheese, if you're new to the blog) I whisked an egg along with some salt and pepper. I read the instructions on the phyllo dough box. Time sensitive stuff apparently, so I assembled (as suggested) all my ingredients in small bowls. Quartered fresh figs. Shredded mozzarella. My labaneh stuff and the sausage/onion mix, to which was added some fresh snipped sage.

Working as quickly as I could with my unskilled phyllo fingers, I dabbed a bit of this and some of that onto a sheet of phyllo dough folded in half and brushed with olive oil. It looked like this:

I then proceeded to clumsily fold them into triangles, along the length of the dough with the final little endpiece tucked under to (hopefully) hold it all together. They went onto a baking stone. When all were assembled, it was into the oven at 350F for about 30 minutes.

They came out looking like this:

Not bad for a novice, huh?

I loved the flavor, which improved as they cooled and you could actually taste the individual ingredients rather than just burning your tongue. I loved the sweetness and juiciness of the figs alongside the pungent sausage/onion/sage flavors. I might add more cheese another time and a bit more pepper, but for a first time these little pastries were delectable. They re-crisp rather nicely in the toaster oven the next day, too!


  1. I love the memory of your first fig. I wonder if Eve remembers hers :)

    I rather wish I could be your live-in taster. What a creative idea this was.

    i have my guesses on the quirky store...

  2. i love this post and recipe. I don't know if i will attempt it, but we have great fresh figs and phyllo dough here. i also love your description of the first time you tasted a fresh fig. carmen