Fun Lunch Idea: A Cheese Plate with Fig & Balsamic Onion Jam

A travel-friendly lunch recipe featuring cheese, crackers and a sweet-and-tangy jam, excerpted from Aviva Wittenberg's new cookbook, Lunchbox

Juicy ripe figs are a magical sandwich or salad addition, but unless you live in a warm and sunny place, they can be hard to track down and extravagantly priced. I never turn down a basket of fresh figs when they are in season (and I drive home with them strapped in with the passenger-side seatbelt), but I count on dry figs for most of the year.

This fig and balsamic onion jam is a great condiment spread on a sandwich, baked into a pie, or served up on a cheese board, and it impressively comes together in less than 30 minutes with ordinary pantry ingredients.

Tip: This jam can be made ahead and stored in a tightly sealed airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Fig & Balsamic Onion Jam

Makes: 1 cup
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • ½ tsp salt Pepper
  • 4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup dried figs (see Note), stemmed and halved
  • ½ cup water

Note:  Use 1 cup roughly diced shallots in place of the onions in this recipe for a slightly milder onion flavor. Any variety of dried fig will do the trick, but if you’ve recently won the lottery and can get your hands on some dried mission figs, use them to create the best version of this jam.


  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the olive oil. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the onions, salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to brown at the corners—about 10 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook, stirring, for 1 minute to reduce slightly. Set aside to cool down.
  2. While the onions cool, put the figs and water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook, partially covered with a lid, for about 15 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
  3. Transfer the onion and balsamic mixture and the figs (including any liquid in the pan) to a blender or food processor and process until smooth—about 1 minute. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Allow to cool, then transfer to a tightly sealed airtight container.

Lunchbox Cover

Excerpted from Lunchbox by Aviva Wittenberg. Copyright © 2022 Aviva Wittenberg. Photography © 2022 Aviva Wittenberg. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Next: Healthy Lunch Idea: Egg, Greens and Cheese Tortilla and a Fruit Salad

Originally Published in Best Health Canada