Dried fruits are a staple in Mediterranean kitchens and compotes are a great way to incorporate these fruits into desserts and sauces. These desserts can be eaten alone in a beautiful compote glass with thick Greek yogurt, over ice cream or cake. Since dried fruits have concentrated natural sugars, don’t add a lot of sweetener. These dishes also are simple to make, and convenient for preparing ahead of time. Sometimes I use sour cherry juice and pomegranate molasses—or sour cherry syrup and pomegranate juice. The idea is to balance the tart and sweet. To make a syrup, cook down cherry or pomegranate juice, adding sugar to taste, reducing the liquid at least by half. I like this sauce best on vanilla frozen yogurt, since it is a bit tangy. MAKES ABOUT 1 QUART OF DRIED FRUIT COMPOTE
• 1 cup dried apricots, cut into slivers
• 1 cup dried figs, cut lengthwise into quarters or eighths
• 1 1/2 cups dried cherries
• 1 cup sour cherry syrup
• 1 cup pomegranate juice
• 3 fresh bay leaves
• 3- to 4-inch cinnamon stick
• 2/3 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
• About 2 teaspoons rose flower water
• About 1 teaspoon orange flower water
• About 1 cup chopped pistachios
1. Combine dried fruit in heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add cherry syrup and pomegranate juice along with bay leaves, cinnamon stick and vanilla bean.
2. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to a bare simmer and cook, slightly covered, stirring occasionally for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat, add flower waters and stir well. Taste syrup, adjusting with more sweetener if necessary and a tiny bit more flower water. Flavor should be tart yet sweet, and the flower waters should be subtle.
3. Cool compote to room temperature and serve. Can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week; however, it should be removed from the fridge 20 to 30 minutes before serving. Garnish with pistachios just before serving.
Susan Belsinger loves immersing herself in all things herbal and looks forward to researching, growing, cooking and photographing each new Herb of the Year.