A large white serving plate filled with green leaves and topped with halved figs and a block of baked feta, on a light stone background

Baked feta salad

  • serves 4
  • Easy

Fig leaves add an extra fruity note to the feta as it bakes, but don't worry if you can't get hold of any – the flavours of the salty cheese, sweet fresh figs and nutty almonds makes this summery dish a winner regardless

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Try Rosie Birkett’s flavour-packed baked feta salad, then check out our fig and goat’s cheese salad, baked feta with lentils and baked feta with tomatoes. We’ve also got plenty more delicious feta recipes and fig recipes.

Rosie says, “We saw our house just once before we bought it, on a September afternoon. Preposterous, really, to make such a huge commitment based on a half-hour nosy. The house is a Victorian mid-terrace with a galley kitchen that opens out onto the garden – it was the sight of the wild, rambling fig tree arching over the curving garden path that clinched the deal. (That, and the owner mentioning a resident hedgehog.) As soon as I saw the tree’s distinctive leaves, I had visions of picking them and infusing their sweet coconut flavour into custards, creams and syrups. I saw platters glistening with figs and soft cheeses, and pots bubbling with greengage and fig leaf compote, filling the house with the scent of summer fruits.

Being from Kent, I didn’t grow up eating fresh figs regularly. It wasn’t until moving to north-east London, surrounded by Turkish-run grocery shops, that my love for them blossomed. Trips to the greengrocer in Stoke Newington became a summer ritual, and I foraged fig leaves from a giant tree by the side of the canal in Hackney to use in cooking, inspired by the chefs at Rochelle Canteen and Claire Ptak’s Violet bakery in Hackney, east London. One food writer whose cultural connections to the fruit run much deeper than my own is Yasmin Khan. In her brilliant book, Ripe Figs, she celebrates eastern Mediterranean cuisine, paying particular homage to the culinary influence of recent refugee communities across the region. Figs, she says, “remind me of my childhood, of my home, of my community, of being loved”.

When we finally moved in six months later, I rushed out into the garden to find that the fig tree had been brutally pruned back to a bare stump. Perhaps the owners were doing us a favour and this is what you do to promote a healthy future harvest, or perhaps they just got so frustrated with our protracted purchase that they took it out on the poor tree. Either way, I’m determined that high summer will not be fig-less. Even if they’re not homegrown, I’ll be using them to make this salad with baked feta, which is one of my favourite ways to use them. The fig leaves, which have finally started growing back, lend a certain extra figgy note to the feta, which I love. There’s still no sign of the hedgehog, though.

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Ingredients

  • fig leaves 2 large (optional)
  • olive oil a drizzle, plus extra for the tin
  • feta 200g block
  • runny honey 1 tsp
  • pul biber chilli flakes a good pinch
  • oregano or thyme a sprig
  • figs 8 ripe
  • rocket a large handful (or a mix of flat-leaf parsley and spinach)
  • flaked almonds 30g, toasted

HONEYED ZA’ATAR DRESSING

  • runny honey 1 tbsp
  • Dijon mustard 2 tsp
  • olive oil 4 tbsp
  • Tabasco a splash
  • lemon ½, juiced (or 2 tbsp of juice)
  • za’atar 2 tsp

Method

  • Step 1

    Heat the oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7 and whisk together the dressing ingredients until emulsified.

  • Step 2

    If you’re using the fig leaves, lay these in the base of an oiled roasting tin, then top with the feta (or just put the feta in the middle of the tin on a large piece of foil). Drizzle over the honey and a little olive oil, then scatter over the pul biber. Put the herb sprig on top and either wrap the feta in the fig leaf and secure with a cocktail stick, or wrap loosely in the foil. Bake for 10 minutes until softened, then unwrap and bake for 5-10 minutes more to caramelise.

  • Step 3

    Meanwhile, halve the figs and dress the rocket with some of the dressing. Pile the salad onto a platter, then top with the feta and figs. Drizzle with the remaining dressing and garnish with the toasted almonds.

Check out more of our best fig recipes

Marinated Figs with Mozzarella and Ham

Nutritional Information

  • Kcals 562
  • Fat 27.7g
  • Saturates 8.9g
  • Carbs 58.6g
  • Sugars 58.2g
  • Fibre 10.8g
  • Protein 14.1g
  • Salt 1.7g
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