There is nothing I love more than produce-centered dishes. …Ok maybe kittens, but that is another story.
You know, those recipes where there is minimal interference by you, and the ingredients are left to speak for themselves. When the produce is so perfect and vibrant and fresh, that the only fitting thing to do to honour it is to simply let it shine. This is one of those recipes.
Flaky cups of buttery phyllo pastry are filled with gorgeously creamy, silky & tangy Labneh, and the crowning glory of it all are these balsamic and honey roasted figs that are lightly scented with thyme. A combination of pure delight for both the tastebuds and the eyes.
These are leaning towards savoury, and so make for an incredible appetizer, especially when you want something you can prepare in advance and have your guests absolutely swoon over. The phyllo cups can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored in an airtight container, simply to be filled with a generous dollop of Labneh (which you can buy or make in advance as well using this easy recipe) and topped with the figs, which ALSO can be roasted a couple of days ahead. So it basically is just a matter of assembly when it comes time to serve.
A little visual how to:
You brush one sheet of phyllo pastry with butter, layer another one on top and brush that as well. Then you cut into 8 squares.
Important tip: keep the rest of the phyllo pastry covered with plastic wrap/a clean tea towel/both while you work, because these delicate sheets dry out FAST!
Now depending on how thick and layer-y you want your cups, you place 2-4 of these squares on top of each other, rotating the angle slightly with each square to form a sort of star like so:
I like lots of layers and a sturdier phyllo cup, so I use 4 of these squares. That makes a total of 8 deliciously buttery and violently flaky layers. Then you simply squish them (carefully!) into a greased muffin tin.
Repeat until you have filled up as many muffin holes as your heart desires and then bake until golden and crispy and your house smells like a bakery.
Would you LOOK at that flakiness!
If you would rather have a sweeter version of this, then all you need to do is sweeten the labneh with some honey and maybe a dash of vanilla before topping it with either roasted or fresh sliced figs and another drizzle of honey on top. Maybe some crushed nuts as well to garnish, and there you have it!
These lovely little tarts, both the sweet & savoury versions, also make a fabulous breakfast treat. I’m thinking you can even set up a topping station, with different sliced fruits and crushed nuts where everyone can assemble their own favourite combos…the possibilities are endless!
I won’t go too much into what you can choose for fillings and toppings, because I can easily get carried away…so I’ll keep that for another post and another time. For now, I’ll leave you with this exceptionally visually appealing snack, using this combination which I find to work like pure magic.
I also have a piece of exciting news to share! I have been chosen as one of the top 14 most powerful Arab bloggers by Sans Retouches! How WONDERFUL (and SO unexpected! powerful? MOI?) is that?? You can read all about it and check out the amazing list of bloggers I am honoured to be mentioned among HERE. Super thrilled about this 🙂
Balsamic Roasted Figs & Labneh Phyllo Tarts
a gorgeously simple yet delicious snack/appetiser, with violently crunchy buttery phyllo pastry cups and sweet thyme-scented balsamic roast figs on a bed of tangy labneh. a treat for both the tastebuds as well as the eyes
Author: Noha Serageldin
- FOR THE FIGS:
- • 6 small figs
- • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- • 1 tbsp. honey
- • 1 tbsp. olive oil
- • a few sprigs of fresh thyme (or a sprinkle of dried)
- FOR THE PHYLLO CUPS:
- • 6 sheets of phyllo pastry
- • 40-50g butter, melted
- FOR ASSEMBLING:
- • 200g labneh
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees C
- In a small bowl, heat the honey, vinegar and oil for a few seconds in the microwave just to loosen the honey up a bit and mix it all together. You can also do this on the stove in a tiny saucepan.
- Trim the top stems of the figs and slice an X into each one from top to bottom WITHOUT slicing all the way through, so that it resembles a flower. Place them in a shallow baking dish and drizzle with the balsamic & honey mixture and scatter a few sprigs of thyme into the dish. Bake for 10-12 minutes until softened and fragrant and slightly browned.
- Meanwhile, prepare the tart shells: Brush a 6-hole muffin tin (preferably non-stick) lightly with butter, set aside. Brush one sheet of phyllo pastry with melted butter then top with another sheet and brush that one as well. Cut into 8 squares.
- Place 2-4 of these phyllo squares on top of each other (depending on how many layers you want the shells to be/how sturdy you want them), rotating the angle slightly each time so that they form a sort of star shape. Carefully transfer the “star “ into a greased muffin tin hole, pushing down gently into the cup until the pastry reaches the bottom. Repeat until you have filled all 6 holes of your muffin tin.
- Bake the shells in the oven for about 30-40 minutes, or until nicely golden and crispy. Let cool completely before filling.
- At this point, you can store both the figs and the phyllo cups separately in airtight containers (figs in the fridge, tart shells at room temperature) for up to 3 days.
- When ready to assemble, spread a heaped teaspoonful of labneh into each phyllo cup. Top with a roast fig and a drizzle of the roasting syrup leftover in the roasting pan & a few fresh thyme leaves. Serve immediately.
• Make sure you cover the phyllo pastry sheets with cling film/a clean tea towel/both while you are working so that they don’t dry out (which can happen very fast)