Vanilla-poached Figs

Preparation time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 30 minutes.

Serves 4


  • 400ml (¾ pint) water
  • 3 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 2 vanilla pods
  • 8 fresh figs

To serve:

  • 250g (8oz) thick natural yogurt (optional)


In the summer there’s nothing to beat warm sun-ripened figs straight from the tree, and nothing to do to them except eat them. However, when you can’t get them, here is a way to make shop-bought figs really heavenly.

Make a light syrup: put the water, caster sugar and vanilla pods into a saucepan large enough to take the figs, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

In each fig cut a cross through the top, as if to quarter them, but do not cut through the base.
Add the figs to the pan. Bring to the boil, then cover and cook over a gentle heat for 20 minutes, or until the figs are plump and very tender when pierced with the point of a sharp knife.

Remove the figs from the pan with a slotted spoon. Place in a shallow serving dish. Boil the syrup and vanilla pods hard for a few minutes until it has reduced a little and thickened. Pour the syrup over the figs. Serve hot, warm or cold, with the natural yogurt, if liked.

Remove the vanilla pods after use, rinse under the tap and leave to dry. They can be used again. A good way to store them is buried in a jar of caster sugar; this absorbs their flavour and keeps them dry.

Taken from Rose Elliot Vegetarian Supercook, published by Hamlyn.