Sephardi Dried Fruit and Nut Compote

Koshaf

I am a big fan of humble compotes made with fresh fruit or dried, especially to conclude a rich meal. Preparing this Sephardi koshaf, a favorite of mine, is incredibly easy: just pour cold liquid over the dried fruit and let it macerate until tender. Instead of the traditional plain water or a simple syrup, I use white grape juice—a nice complement to the raisins and currants—for a light sweetening without added sugar. The flavors slowly unfold while the fruit softens and plumps up dramatically more than if it were stewed. Nuts, a welcome contrast to the sweet fruit, are softened first with boiling water to provide mellowed texture without jarring crunch.

For the holidays, set off the koshaf with a crown of jewel-toned pomegranate seeds.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup tart dried apricots (if only sweet ones are available, add 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice to grape juice, or substitute an equal amount of prunes, dried peaches, nectarines, or a mixture of these fruits)
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • ½ cup dried cherries or cranberries
  • ¼ cup dried currants
  • 2 cups unsweetened white grape juice
  • ¼ cup shelled unsalted pistachios
  • ¼ cup blanched almonds, halved
  • cup pine nuts

Optional Garnish

  • pomegranate seeds

Method

Put the dried fruit in a large bowl. Pour the grape juice over the fruit, cover with foil, and set aside to macerate, unrefrigerated, for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

Put the nuts in a heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water, and let them soak for about 45 minutes. Drain. Using your fingers, rub off the pistachio skins: you’ll find they come off quite easily. Add the pistachios, almonds, and pine nuts to the macerating fruit at least 30 minutes before you are ready to serve the koshaf.

I prefer the compote well chilled, but many people enjoy it at room temperature. Offer the compote in a pretty glass serving bowl or in individual dessert bowls or martini glasses. For a striking presentation, garnish with ruby pomegranate seeds.

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