Monday, September 23, 2013

Fig balsamic vinegar relish

Summer felt slow, relaxed, leisurely. But now that fall is here, the days are whizzing by.

All year I was looking forward to fresh fig season. And then, in what seemed like a blink, it came and went.

My friend Erin's Mission fig tree was generous this year. I visited three times in three weeks and picked 10 pounds each time. More figs than I would ever buy. More figs than one family can eat in a month.

And yet, now that we've eaten our fill and the tree has given and the season is over, I miss those figs dearly.

Or is it summer I'm missing?

One August day, when the tray of Erin's figs was challenging me silently from the counter, I made this fig balsamic vinegar relish to serve to guests with a platter of cheese. Spooned on top of a log of fresh, creamy goat cheese, the fig relish added just the right touch of sour and sweet and summer.

Make this relish a day or two ahead and let it sit in the refrigerator so the flavors mingle and marry. It's beautiful with goat cheese, but cream cheese would work, or Brie, or ricotta. If fresh figs are gone for the season, don't despair - you can easily substitute dried figs (just add a little water to the pot to compensate). And don't use your most expensive balsamic vinegar. The cheap supermarket stuff will do just fine for this relish.

print recipe

Fig balsamic vinegar relish
Make this fig relish a few days ahead so the flavors have time to mingle and marry. Serve at room temperature over a soft, creamy cheese.
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 small red onions, peeled and diced
  • 4 cups fresh figs, preferably dark purple Mission figs, chopped
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, leaves stripped from stems, finely minced
Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add red onion and saute 3-4 minutes, until onion begins to turn translucent. Add figs, vinegar, honey, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Stir to combine, bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer about 45 minutes, until the mixture is glossy and thickened. Check seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Cool before serving or storing.Note: For best flavor, store fig balsamic vinegar relish in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 1-2 days before serving.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: approximately 4 cups


  1. I recognize that "log" plate! I borrowed it for Savory Pies Book. GREG

  2. I wonder if I could can a big batch of this? Looks terrific -

  3. @Greg yes you did! It's a "Boards By Joel" -

    @Liz I don't see why not.

  4. If this relish is stored in preserving jars (sterilised beforehand etc), how long would it keep?

  5. @Anonymous I haven't done any testing for pH or other chemistry items, so I would not store this at room temperature. If you put it in the jar at or near boiling, let it cool, then store it in the refrigerator, I'd say a month or two. But that is just a guess.

  6. I just made this!...I added fresh ginger, a green apple, a strip of lime rind and mixed spice...delicious, thanks for sharing the recipe! :)