In Umbrian Fig Heaven: Figs Everywhere!

October 10, 2013 / Food & Wine
Piegaro, Umbria

In the weekly markets, in the village alimentari (grocery store) and hiding beneath the large leaves of the trees surrounding Piegaro, figs are everywhere! Late summer has arrived and we are in Fig Heaven.

IN Fig Heaven Tree

The soft green skin bursts open to reveal its juicy sweet surprise and we can eat them smugly knowing that they are the healthiest of fruits, rich in calcium, magnesium, iron and fiber. Lovely to look at and divine to eat, I serve them many ways but here are two of my favorites: one for a late summer light pranzo and the other to anoint hearty roast pork in winter. Enjoy!

IN Fig Heaven Figs in Market

Fig and Arugula Salad for Summer:
Place enough arugula on a plate; season with your finest extra-virgin olive oil and just a splash of balsamic vinegar. Arrange figs cut into quarters over arugula, skin sides down so their beautiful pink centers contrast with the green, then arrange curled very thinly sliced prosciutto. Top with large slivers of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Sweet and salty: figs and prosciutto are a marriage in heaven!

Canned Fig Compote for Winter:
Makes 8-4 oz. jars of compote.

Juice of 8 oranges
4 lbs. of fresh figs, chopped coarsely
3 tablespoons sugar
4 cups of good red wine (suggest Sangiovese or Merlot)
10 rosemary sprigs wrapped in cheesecloth bag
8 cups water

Mix figs, orange juice and sugar in bowl. Let meld in fridge for one hour; put into a non-reactive saucepan and add wine, water and rosemary bag. Bring to high boil then immediately on low simmer for one hour stirring occasionally until most liquid has evaporated. Leave wooden spoon in pan to draw heat up so it does not stick to bottom. Remove rosemary, and ladle into glass jars leaving ¬ľ inch at top; process in water bath for 45 minutes. Cool and store to serve with roast pork.

IN Fig Heaven Compote

Colleen Simpson

by Colleen Simpson

Colleen followed a long-held dream and made a home in Piegaro, which is a pristine medieval glass-making village south of Lago Trasimeno in Umbria. She is the innkeeper at

15 Responses to “In Umbrian Fig Heaven: Figs Everywhere!”

  1. Tony DiGiulio

    Oh man – if we could have Figs in abundance here in Ohio! I have relatives who have trees and have to bend them over and bury them to get them thru our winters and they are lucky to get a few Figs a year.

  2. Sigh….this exact same day last yr I was sitting in Buti, Italy under a fig tree that kept dropping figs right on top of our heads! While drinking Sangiovese vino!!!
    Good Times….better memories of a land I love!!!

  3. Colleen,
    Grazie for sharing…I think…makes my mouth water – we have figs here, too (in California) but they just don’t seem to get that same sweet juicy flavor I remember…Enjoy!

  4. Use figs year round: Pick figs, rinse and dry on a dish towel. Place on a cookie sheet in a freezer until frozen solid. Transfer to zip lock bags.
    I often put a few frozen figs with a Greek yogurt in a blender. Result: a fabulous treat resembling a soft fig ice cream!

  5. Marie Giacalone

    These recipes sound scrumptious. I just wish they had come a little earlier- my figs are almost gone- but I will save these ideas for next year!

  6. Charnee Smit

    Thanks for the fig recipes!! Our Mission fig here in the San Francisco Bay Area is bursting with fruit, too.

  7. Hi, Colleen! What a lovely note. Figs are one of my favorites. I was curious, how long will the fig compote last, stored?

    • Colleen

      Jenice: I usually can in late summer and eat by February, but it could last longer if stored in a cool place.

  8. Over the last 40 years I’ve brought back fig cuttings from all parts of Italy and Sicily, for the last three years we here in the San Francisco East Bay (California) have had a fig drought with nary a fruit, this year everyones’ tree are producing beautifully. Since I have eleven fig trees every time I venture outside or look out a window I’m brought back immediately to my Italia…. I’m so glad ItalianNotebook has returned, welcome back!!!

  9. Joy HuffinesJoy

    Many thanks and welcome back, Italian Notebook! Just as we were about to start picking a bumper crop from our tree, the deer came and removed the netting from the tree and ate every one! Fortunately, my friends had supplied me with enough to try your compote recipe, Colleen. I’m wondering if the amount of water suggested was correct? I only used 2 cups, and still had too much to boil down in 1 hr. Perhaps our figs were a bit different. The end product, however, was very nice. Thank you.

    • Colleen

      Joy: it is the recipe I always use with the figs we have here in Piegaro as pictured in the photos. Not sure why yours were more moist?? Glad you liked the end product!!

  10. Lina Falcone

    Grazie,I used to have a fig tree but it didn’t survive the long winter even if it was covered up. I love figs I am planting a new one this fall.


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