A Greek meze or appetizer made with Greek feta spread on toasted baguette and topped with dried figs poached in brandy, maple syrup, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar. Perfect for any holiday or celebratory gathering, or an evening of cocktails.
I love making this appetizer for company because all of the elements can be made ahead and the assembly of the feta and fig crostini is quite simple. I often make these as a meze before a dinner party, but I also serve them when I have company over for some drinks and nibbles. I like to put out a bowl of marinated olives, some spanakopita, zucchini fritters and a traditional Greek dip like the eggplant dip called melitzanosalata. Everyone is happy with the variety and the delicious Greek food.
Why this recipe works
Dried figs are easy to find
Fresh figs, when you can get your hands on them, are delicious! They tend to grow well in warm climates, although my father has successfully maintained fig trees in his garden for several years now…and Canada is not always warm! He takes great care to bring his trees in for the winter and is rewarded with plenty of fruit come summer. He is really my gardening hero! However, don’t despair if fresh figs are not available to you. This recipe uses dried figs, and good quality dried figs are deliciously different from their fresh counterparts. Add to that the fact that dried figs have the highest concentration of antioxidant polyphenols among all other dried fruits, and you are left with something delicious and nutritious.
What you need to make this amazing Greek meze:
Baguette A long French baguette is ideal
Dried figs Any variety of dried figs will work here
Feta Always use Greek feta, which is made with sheep milk or a combination of sheep and goat milk.
Olive oil Greek olive oil is used to help hold the crumbled feta together and make it more spreadable
Brandy I use Metaxa, a Greek brandy
Brown sugar Helps to sweeten the fig compote with its deep caramel flavour
Maple syrup The maple flavour adds a great sweetness to the figs – use only pure maple syrup
Balsamic vinegar I use red balsamic vinegar
Water To help dissolve the sugar, and hydrate the figs
Thyme You only need a few pieces of fresh thyme to decorate the top of your crostini
How to make feta and fig crostini
Place the figs, thyme, brown sugar, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar and water in a bowl. Mix well and set aside for approximately one hour.
Place the contents of the bowl into a saucepan and bring to a boil. When it has begun to boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until there is no more liquid in the saucepan and the figs have broken down somewhat. At this point, add the Metaxa and simmer for a few more minutes, until the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside.
While the fig portion of the recipe is cooling, prepare the feta by mixing the crumbled feta with 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil. Set aside.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Prepare your crostini. Slice your baguette into 1/2 inch slices, cut on the diagonal (so that each slice of bread is an oval shape). Place your sliced baguette on a cookie sheet and bake them in the middle rack of your oven for approximately 5 minutes per side. Watch so that they don’t burn.
To assemble the crostini, spread some feta over a toasted bread slice. Use the back of a spoon to press down on the feta. Add some of the fig compote on top of the feta. Adorn with a small piece of fresh thyme.
Omit the alcohol
If you prefer not to use brandy, or don’t have any, this recipe works equally well with orange juice.
Replace the thyme
Instead of fresh thyme, you can top your feta and fig crostini with a sprig of fresh rosemary, or even some fresh parsley or mint.
Cooking tips and helpful hints
This recipe calls for a bit of Metaxa, a delicious Greek brandy. If you don’t have Metaxa, or are choosing not to use alcohol, you can replace it with an equal amount of freshly squeezed orange juice.
As always, when I use feta I always use Greek feta. This cheese is made with either sheep or goat milk and is far superior to feta made with cow’s milk. It may be more costly, and more difficult to find, but trust us…it is worth it!
These crostini are great for a party, especially since each individual component can be made ahead and then assembled right before you plan on serving your appetizers. If you toast your bread ahead of time, keep it in a sealed plastic bag. The crumbled feta and oil as well as the fig topping can both be kept in the refrigerator.
Chopping dried fruit can sometimes be challenging. I find that the easiest way to do so is with a pair of kitchen scissors. Snipping dried fruit is easier than chopping it or cutting it.
Why I love this recipe
I have a lovely relationship with figs, and so many warm fig memories. One of my father’s sisters (who has passed away) lived in a beautiful spot in Greece called Chrani. As kids, for my siblings and I this was our favourite place to visit and spend our summers. Our aunt was joyful, exuberant, generous and full of life. Her home was simple but perfect, and connected to a small convenience store where she sold cold drinks and snacks to travellers getting off the bus which stopped at the corner of her property. For those who think that all of Greece’s glory is found on the islands, we can tell you that the mainland is equally stunning. In fact, over the years we saw our aunt’s town change from a relatively secluded oasis to a tourist hub, with hotels popping up all around her.
Despite the fact that there was a European invasion which grew exponentially from year to year, our aunt’s corner of the world remained untouched. Right outside of her front door was a main road; crossing it brought us to her field of fig trees and a dirt path led us to stone steps. At the bottom of this naturally formed staircase, was the beach. Flanked on both sides by rock formations jutting deep into the water, what resulted was about 1/2 a mile of private beach, whose access was known only to the locals. Our days and evenings were spent here, meeting up with friends, enjoying the glorious water, sand and sun. Such hard work certainly built up our appetites. When we got hungry, we would open up the bag of figs we had picked from our aunt’s trees as we headed to the beach. Warm from the sun and as fresh as can be, these figs were perfect.
Making this recipe of feta and fig crostini (actually, anything related to figs) always reminds me of my aunt’s home in Chrani. It also reminds me of my dad, and his lovingly cared for fig trees here in Canada. Food and memories always makes recipes more delicious, wouldn’t you agree?
If you are looking for some wonderful Greek meze, here are a few more favourites for you to try:
Meatballs (Κεφτέδες) Great Greek meatballs that are small and very easy to eat!
Tomato fritters (Ντοματοκεφτέδες) A classic meze from Santorini, these tomato fritters are amazing.
Tyropitakia or Cheese Pies (Τυροπιτάκια) No Greek gathering is complete without these cheese pies
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Feta and fig crostini
- Cookie sheet
- 2/3 cup cut up pieces of dried fig
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- 2½ tsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 2/3 cup water
- 2 tbsp Metaxa brandy or freshly squeezed orange juice
- 2/3 cup crumbled feta
- 1/2 tsp olive oil
- Place the figs, thyme, brown sugar, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar and water in a bowl. Mix well and set aside for approximately one hour.2/3 cup cut up pieces of dried fig, 1 tsp fresh thyme, 2½ tsp brown sugar, 1 tbsp maple syrup, 1 tsp balsamic vinegar, 2/3 cup water
- Place the contents of the bowl into a saucepan and bring to a boil. When it has begun to boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until there is no more liquid in the saucepan and the figs have broken down somewhat. At this point, add the Metaxa and simmer for a few more minutes, until the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside.2 tbsp Metaxa brandy or freshly squeezed orange juice
- While the fig portion of the recipe is cooling, prepare the feta by mixing the crumbled feta with 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil. Set aside.2/3 cup crumbled feta, 1/2 tsp olive oil
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Prepare your crostini. Slice your baguette into 1/2 inch slices, cut on the diagonal (so that each slice of bread is an oval shape). Place your sliced baguette on a cookie sheet and bake them in the middle rack of your oven for approximately 5 minutes per side. Watch so that they don't burn.baguette
- To assemble the crostini, spread some feta over a toasted bread slice. Use the back of a spoon to press down on the feta. Add some of the fig compote on top of the feta. Adorn with a small piece of fresh thyme.