Cipolline in Agrodolce [recipe] – And You Thought That Ex Boyfriend Was Clingy

cipolline in agrodolce
In the cookbook, Saveur Cooks Authentic Italian, this recipe for Cipolline in Agrodolce falls within the chapter for Antipasti. The small, flat Italian onions in any format, are usually eaten as an appetizer, historically during the winter months. They’re so perfectly sweet and sour, we can see ourselves sitting at the kitchen bar with a small fork popping these straight up, but we had them served as a side dish to roast pork.

If you plan to make these, allow yourself a good chunk of time. It not only takes 1½ hours for the onions to braise in the agrodolce, but peeling tiny cipolline onions is an exercise in patience…the paper-thin skins cling like a desperate girlfriend to the onions. Even with the “tip” to soak the onions in ice water to loosen the skins, it took two of us 15 minutes and a few impatient four-letter words to peel the onions.

Final product, though, was worth every minute.

Cipolline in Agrodolce

from Saveur Cooks Authentic Italian
serves 4-6


1 pound cipolline onions
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely minced prosciutto fat
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons sugar
1 bay leaf
½ cup white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon salt


Place onions in a bowl of cold water for 10 minutes to loosen skins, then peel with a sharp knife, taking care to remove only the papery skis and keep the base intact.

Finely mince one onion and set aside. Heat oil in a heavy skillet, large enough to hold the onions in one layer, over medium heat. Add prosciutto fat and stir with a wooden spoon until melted, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and reserved minced onions and cook until soft and translucent, about 6-8 minutes.

Add whole onions in one layer, then add sugar, bay leaf, vinegar, salt and 1 cup water. The water should just cover the onions. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and gently simmer until onions are tender but still firm, about 1½ hours. Allow to cool to room temperature in pan juices before serving.

by Sarah J. Gim on February 2, 2011 · 3 comments

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Anna February 2, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Shame on Saveur for not telling you to drop them in boiling water for a minute and THEN put them into ice water (like when you want to remove the skin from almonds). It makes the peeling quite a bit easier! It’s still not fun, per se, but it isn’t as tedious.


TasteSpotting February 2, 2011 at 5:41 pm

anna: THANK you for mentioning that! we thought we had read somewhere about the boiling water trick, but couldn’t remember when or where or from whom and perhaps we had only imagined it so we just went with the directions in the recipe…so now we know.

thank you!!

caterina February 2, 2011 at 6:37 pm

i learned to make these when i lived in Rome during the 60’s / thanks for the reminder


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