Wicker basket of fresh figsWhen Nicky returned from fig picking with over four kilos of fresh Istrian figs I knew they wouldn’t keep and I would have to come up with some fig recipes quickly. Using basically the same ingredients, the first – a simple fig sauce – is great to spice up left-over meat; the second – figs with pancetta – made a delicious pasta dish. Both included local Istrian baburi (a variety of red pepper) as they are in season at the same time.



Fig sauce

Figs cooking for papsta or meat sauceI concocted this sauce in double-quick time to go over some left-over cooked BBQ meat intended for that evening, instead of the tomato sauce I’d planned. It made a delicious sweet-sour combination that complemented the wood-cooked meats perfectly.

 Serves 2



  • 6-8  fresh figs, quartered
  • 1 small onion , chopped
  • ½ red pepper, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • White wine (optional)
  • 1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper



  1. Fry the onions and garlic in the oil until they start to soften (about  5 mins). Add the red pepper and continue frying for a few minutes.
  2. Add the figs and stir until heated through – don’t overcook or they’ll go to mush.
  3. Pour over the balsamic vinegar, add the sage and season with salt and pepper. If the sauce seems too thick, add a little white wine.
  4. Chop up the pre-cooked meat in hunks and add to the pan to heat through for a few minutes.



Fig and pancetta pasta

Fig and pancetta pastaThis attractive, tasty and simple pasta dish uses basically the same fig sauce I concocted for using up left-over pre-cooked meat. The key addition is pancetta, a salty cured bacon which contrasts perfectly with the sweetness of the figs.

 Serves 2



  • 6-8 figs, quartered
  • 150 g block of pancetta, cut into small slices
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • White wine
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh herbs (e.g. oregano & thyme make a good combination)
  • 200 g pasta shapes (we used small pasta shells (lumachie))
  • Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (optional)



  1. Fry the pancetta in the oil until it starts to crisp. Remove from the pan.
  2. Add the onions and garlic, and fry until starting to soften (about 5 mins.). Add the red pepper and fry for a further few minutes.
  3. Add the figs and heat through for a few minutes. Don’t overcook at this point or they’ll go to mush.
  4. Pour in white wine and a little water, and simmer for a few minutes. (The sauce should not be too liquid & not to thick ….!).
  5. Add the pancetta back to the pan.
  6. Meanwhile, cook the pasta. Drain and rinse, and then stir in the fig mixture.
  7. If using parmesan, add a little to the pasta, stir and serve immediately, sprinkled with the remaining cheese.


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