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Window on Italy - A Plethora of Food at the Weekly Market

Colleen Simpson

Italian Market produceEach Monday finds me early at the weekly market where I can buy just about anything I wish. The first of summer I stock up on linen sun dresses and new sandals made in Italy. The porchetta and cheese trucks draw me over to purchase sliced porchetta stuffed with rosemary on a bun, plus a kilo to take home or to munch on the samples of Pecorino cheese.

What I love above all things are the fruit and vegetable stands as they change with each season’s offerings. From the tiny asparagus in spring to the fava beans and ripe melons of summer, it is a feast for the eyes.

Last week the fresh figs appeared as summer draws to a close and the nights start getting cooler in mid-September. I could not resist picking up a couple of kilos to make my favorite fig compote to can and savor on a brisk winter’s night with roast pork. A perfect treat in late summer however, are fresh figs wrapped in prosciutto, a perfect marriage of sweet and salty!

Fresh Figs

Here are recipes for both.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Figs

4 figs, cut into sixths
8 slices of prosciutto, sliced thinly then vertically into thirds
2 Tbsp. of Gorgonzola cheese
Aged balsamic vinegar
Basil leaves rolled up and sliced very thinly

Wrap a piece of prosciutto around each fig. Crumble some blue cheese on top of the prosciutto-wrapped figs. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over each piece. Garnish with basil. Great served as an appetizer with a nice chilled Trebbiano or Grechetto Italian white wine!

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 ¼ inch at top; process in water bath for 45 minutes. Cool and store to serve with roast pork. Or give as gifts to special friends!

Fig Compote

Colleen's Window on Italy is a series of articles on Slow Travel. Read the article "Colleen's Window on Italy - Introduction" for more information.

Colleen Simpson lives most of the year in Piegaro, Umbria and operates L'Antica Vetreria (www.anticavetreria.net): a villa and four apartments for vacationing guests. At other times, you can find her in beautiful Seattle.

© Colleen Simpson, 2013

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