Onion & Fig Jam

While coming up with a menu for our holiday party I received an email recommending a book from The Splendid Table. The email included an excerpt page for Endive Spears with Fig-Onion Jam, which sounded like a fine addition. Alas, the excerpt didn’t include the recipe for fig-onion jam. After a bit of web-searching I had enough suggestions of recipes to put something together.

Onion & Fig Jam
Servings: about 3 cups
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 80 minutes


  • 1 large white onion, weighing ~13 oz., cut into 1/2 inch diced (about 3 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 10 ounces mission figs, dried, halved
  • 1 cup granulated sugar


  1. Heat olive oil in a medium sauce plan over high heat. Add onions, salt and pepper. Stir to coat the onions with oil and even out the onion layer across the bottom of the pan. Lower heat to low, or even lower if your stove does that, until the sizzle dies out. Leave the onions alone for 5 minutes. Stir, even out the onion layer across the bottom of the pan and leave alone for another 5 minutes. Repeat the stir, even, ignore process for a total of 30 minutes. In the end you should have lightly browned, very soft, kind of sweet onions.
  2. Add the red wine and scrap the bottom of the pan. If you cooked the onions low and slow there probably isn’t anything on the bottom of the pan but it’s worth a try. Add the dates. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove cover and cook onions & dates for another 10 minutes. At the end of 10 minutes mash the dates with a potato masher (or the back of the spoon if you a the patient sort).
  4. Add the sugar and stir until incorporated. Make a judgement call – is there enough liquid to simmer another 20 minutes? If yes then cover and cook for 10 minutes. If not add a 1/2 cup of water, stir, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Give the mixture another bashing with the potato masher. If you like the consistency then give it a taste, adjust salt if needed and allow to cool. If you want a finer texture then transfer mixture to a food processor and give it a whirl until you happy.
  6. Once cool transfer to a storage container. It’ll keep for at least 2 weeks in the fridge.

You could replace the wine with a different liquid such as apple cider, broth or even water. Using a fruit juice will yield a sweeter end product.

In addition to The Splendid Table suggestion this recipe was heavily influenced by one from Everyday Gourmet.

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