How Giada De Laurentiis Hacks Fig Jam For A Tasty Cheese Pairing

Every home cook needs an elegant but quick appetizer in their back pocket, like the little black dress of party food. A jar of fig jam and your favorite soft cheese turns two pantry ingredients into a delicious crostini or dip you can proudly serve.

In a recent TikTok video, celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis spices up her crostini, adding Calabrian chili paste to the salty, sweet appetizer she whips up in minutes for impromptu get-togethers. De Laurentiis combines one-half cup of fig jam, one-half teaspoon of Calabrian chili paste (or more if desired), and one tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice in a small bowl.

She places cooled toasted slices of French bread, topped with brie cheese on a platter, and adds a dollop of the spicy fig jam to finish the appetizer. So simple! Calabrian fig jam crostini perfectly balances different textures and flavors with crunchy bread, creamy cheese, sweet fig jam, acid from the lemon juice, and a little heat from the chilis. Still, it got us thinking of possible variations on this delicious recipe.

Calabrian chili fig jam variations

To make this "no-recipe" recipe even easier, forgo toasting crostini and spread the spicy fig jam on a wheel of brie. This can be served by itself with crackers or as the focal point of a charcuterie board. If you have time, try heating the brie in the oven to add another dimension to your cheese board.

Place the brie on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a 350-degree Fahrenheit oven for five minutes until it's soft and oozing but not melting. Remove the brie to a serving platter and coat the top with the Calabrian fig jam mixture (or just a jar of fig jam to keep it simple). The heat from the cheese will release a wonderful sweet/spicy aroma into the air and cause the jam to run down the cheese's sides.

Fig jam complements any salty cheese, but is particularly delicious with goat cheese. In addition to making a crostini by smearing goat cheese on toasted bread and topping it with spiced fig jam, it also works well on a cheese board. Place a goat cheese log on the board and spoon the jam on top.

The soft, spreadable texture of goat cheese makes for a delicious dip. Place whipped goat cheese in a small bowl and top with fig jam, or whip them together to create a creamy, pink-hued dip. Both options can be beaten with cream cheese or crème fraîche to mellow goat cheese's tangy, earthy flavor.

More reasons to stock fig jam in the pantry

Unlike other fruit spreads, fig jam has a nutty texture from the fig's seeds. It's the perfect substitute when the fresh fruit is out of season, with a similar gooeyness and sweet flavor. Along with these appetizer suggestions, fig jam is wonderful on entrees too.

Top flatbreads and pizzas with fig jam, gorgonzola cheese, and thin slices of prosciutto for a salty, sweet flavor bomb. Both doughs can also be cut into two-biters as appetizers, or create a pig and fig crostini.

When preparing pork chops or a roast, add a tablespoon of fig jam to a red wine pan sauce to drizzle over the meat. Simmer minced shallots and herbs like thyme or rosemary to add freshness to the sauce. Deglaze the pan with a drinkable red wine and finish with a nob of softened butter to make the finished product silky. It takes everyone's favorite combination, salty and sweet, to a new level.

If inclined, fig jam is easy to make at home. All you need is one-half cup of water, one-and-a-half cups of granulated sugar (or less if you want the jam more tart), and one-quarter a cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice to turn two pounds of stemmed and chopped green or purple figs into three cups of sticky, sweet jam. Simmer the ingredients for 20 minutes until the figs break down and the mixture has a thick consistency. The jam will keep for three months in the refrigerator.