fig and ginger compote


Nik Sharma

Hey Friends, Iโ€™m a multi-award-winning and best-selling cookbook author and photographer.

Fig and Ginger Compote|A Brown Table

For the past few week, I’ve been feeling a bit reminiscent. Part of me misses my old life in DC, the familiar spots and friends that I spent so much time with. After seven wonderful years in a great city, where I worked my first job out of grad school, went back to grad school, made friends that I consider family, met the love of my life, got married and had many other special moments, this would obviously be a hard change. I’m extremely thankful that we were able to make the move to California and it was definitely time for a change that we both needed.

The past three months in our new home have been great, exploring new places and meeting new people but I miss the part where I could talk with my friends at any time of the day and have conversations that ranged from sensible to absolute nonsense. Not that this still doesn’t happen but the three hour time difference between the two coasts makes it a little hard and requires a bit of extra planning. But, at the end of the day, I remind myself that life is full of changes and each one of those changes, planned or unplanned are important because it helps mold my way of thinking, the dual combination of the nervousness and joy of experiencing the unfamiliar that is exciting and what makes change and life fun. 

Fig and Ginger Compote|A Brown Table

I recently made this fig compote to use a bunch of figs that I picked up at the market. As much as I love figs, there is one thing about them that annoys me the most, they grow mold rather quickly if they are too overripe. This compote was my way of immediately using up those figs and making them last for a few weeks (I hate, hate, losing figs to mold, it’s really aggravating because I usually can’t blame anyone else but me)! 

Fig and Ginger Compote|A Brown Table

Bubbling red wine with vanilla beans is one of the most comforting fragrances that can come out of your kitchen. Fruity and floral aromas are the best when it comes to feeling relaxed. There are quite a few fall flavors in this compote, ginger and balsamic really give this a nice bump and all the flavors come together in one little jar of goodness that you can serve over cheeses or with charcuterie or pretty much anything else. 

Note: Since fresh figs can vary in sweetness, I recommend adding less sugar and then tasting the compote towards the end to see if you need more sugar

Fig and Ginger Compote|A Brown Table

fig and ginger compote 

yields: about 1 generous cup


1 lb fresh figs (I used mission figs)

1 cup red wine ( used a sangiovese)

2-4 tablespoons brown sugar (you might need less)

1 vanilla bean, sliced in half

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

1/4 cup crystallized ginger bits

4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (to make this compote extra fruity, you can also use a fruit/berry flavored balsamic vinegar here, I’ve tried blackberry and pineapple version and they all did really well)

1. Rinse the figs under running tap water and and trim the stalks off. Slice the figs in half and place them in a medium saucepan.

2. Add the red wine and 2 tablespoons of the sugar to the figs. Bring the contents to boil on a medium-high flame, this should take about 5-6 minutes. Remove from the stove and blend with an immersion blender until smooth.

3. Scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean with a sharp knife and add the seeds and the bean along with the black pepper and ginger to the fig mixture and return to the stove. Cook on medium-low with occasionally stirring until the mixture thickens and reduces in volume to about half its original. This will take about 35-40 minutes. Once this is done, taste to see if it is sweet enough, the sweetness depends on how sweet the figs are so add extra sugar if needed. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and remove from stove. Cool and store in an airtight container. 

15 Responses

  1. I can always count on you to show me many wonderful fig recipes, and I am now certain that Nik loves figs ๐Ÿ™‚
    I have not yet worked with figs because, like you said, they get moldy way too fast, but this recipe could be the starter on my fig journey ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for sharing.

    Btw, I understand completely how you feel as I have done 2 big moves in my life where I left my family & friends behind. Though they are still with me, and we are still talking regularly, but yes, it takes some planning. Hope you feel better soon as it can be a little sad in the beginning.

    1. I had no idea you lived here in the Bay too! Haha, yeah I do love figs a lot. Thanks for the wishes, Pang. Moving is hard work but missing people you love is harder.

  2. It’s hard to leave a city you love, no matter what the reason, and plant roots in a new place. I admire you for making the change and hope you feel settled out west soon. This recipe looks delicious and I love the photos. The simplicity and clean look are beautiful. Thank you so much. D

  3. I’m a creature of habit so I can imagine (really, my imagination is unbearably vivid) how jarring it is to move across the country. You’re handling it beautifully, at least from what we can see when peeking into your world via this site. I would require six months of acclimating & hibernating before even attempting to blog again.
    Change is nourishing, though and by mid-winter I’m sure you will be super-happy that you are on the west coast! shiver ๐Ÿ˜€

    Love this compote! I always toss figs into a tart and call it a day, it’s good to find new recipe.

    1. Valerie, I realized this week that the rest of the country is experiencing fall while here it is still warm and green. I think as much as I am happy about a longer summer, I need time to get used to these changes. I bet you make the best and prettiest fig tart ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. This is seriously genius. What a great combination of flavors! I can totally relate to the rotting fruit/vegetable situation. What I find that helps is to slice the fruit that I see is getting bad and freeze it for smoothies. For vegetables, I will make a veggie/lentil quick soup. Sometimes I will freeze it. Also, if the veggies are really limp and awful you can throw them in a bag to make a stock out of! ๐Ÿ™‚ Both these things have really helped me ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thanks, Kathleen. I’ll definitely keep your tips in mind. I do freeze veggie scraps for stocks too, it really saves on money, time and food!

  5. Having just moved to a new, wonderful city myself, I completely understand your sentiment. It’s hard not to miss home and the easiness of contact. But I’ve been finding that spending more time in the kitchen, with the same familiar smells and tastes, remind me that all of the people and things I love are still there, maybe just a bit further away. All the best – I hope it gets easier!

  6. I ‘liberated’ a fig sucker from an unkempt backyard over 30 years ago. No idea what variety it is – it makes a glorious red jam, rather than brown which seems to be more normal.
    Ripening always coincides with our very hot weather, so I cut up the fruit, bag it, and pop in the freezer until the weather is more friendly.
    Freezing doesn’t appear to have any negative impact on the finished product. Since you have to rely on market produce, freezing the figs for this compote might be worth a shot.
    As for the compote recipe, if you don’t mind, I might try ‘cpnverting’ the ingredients in a batch of jam.

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