I’ve always had a fascination with Middle Eastern Cuisine from Greek to Persian, the range of spices has left my palate begging for more. So next week I’ll be showcasing a few of my middle eastern favorite dishes. But for now I have a recipe for Lebanese Fig Jam, which is a popular staple in Lebanon. What separates Lebanese Fig Jam from ours (US) is ground Mastic which can be found in Greek or Middle Eastern stores. Mastic extract comes from a tree similar to the pistachio family.
If you can’t find Mastic then anise seeds or star anise will work, just make sure to dry roast before you grind then to a powder, and by dry roasting you will bring out the intense aroma and flavor of anise, or any other seed or nut. Roast before you use and you will notice a clear difference.
So I made my Lebanese fig jam and had my friends who is also Lebanese try it. Keeping my fingers crossed, that I came close to replicating such a beloved staple and not insulting my friend by being way off base, i held my breath.
I nailed it on my first try.
This jam is so amazing at the end of this recipe is a quick summary of the sandwich I made for lunch this week, using this Lebanese Jam recipe!
1 1/2 lbs dried figs
Fresh juice from one lemon
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 cup of water
3 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
1/2 cup walnuts, dry roasted and chopped
¼ tsp well-crushed mastic (found in Greek or Middle Eastern grocery stores) or 3 tbsp ground anise seed or star anise, dry roasted first.
Remove the stems and coarse chop the figs.
Using a medium sauce pan Bring water and lemon juice to a boil.
Carefully stir to dissolve the sugar as the water is boiling.
Add the figs, simmer and stir constantly until the figs are soft with the consistency of syrup (about 20 minutes).
Using a skillet over medium heat dry roast sesame seeds than walnuts. Next dry roast anise seeds or star anise for a few minutes before grinding to a powder, (if you do not have on hand Mastic). You don’t want to burn your seeds or nuts. After about 5 minutes you should start to smell the aroma of what you are dry roasting, so shake the skillet a bit during this time.
Add anise seed, sesame seeds and walnuts, and simmer for three minutes.
Remove from heat, and add the ground mastic and thoroughly mix it in with the fig mixture .
If you are making a preserving, pour into clean sterile glass jar, seal immediately and follow proper rules for canning.
Prosciutto, Manchego and Fig Jam Sandwich
I love trying various cheese and breads with prosciutto with the sweet and fruity jam. So instead of using goat cheese I went with Manchego which is a cheese make from sheep’s milk. Manchego is a bit sweet and a little tart, that paired perfectly with these ingredients. I chose a whole wheat and honey oat bread to balance the cheese & prosciutto and to be different. The jam has just enough sweet countered by the licorice flavor of star anise, so don’t spread on too thick.
I also spread this jam on one side of toasted bread added Manchego cheese on the other slice and slapped a burger patty between and hands down was this a delicious burger.
4 slices honey oat bread
3-4 oz. prosciutto
1-3 Tbsp fig jam or to taste
7-9 slices or roughly 3 oz of manchego cheese
Spread the fig jam on one slice of the bread.
Add the slices of prosciutto, then the cheese on top.
Grill on a Panini or foreman grill until the cheese has melted.