Cippolini en agrodolce are quick-pickled onions in a sweet-and-sour marinade. Unlike many pickles, these onions are not as sour as the vinegar is tempered with sugar.
Serve with cured meats such as prosciutto or mortadella, or as part of an antipasto plate. The addition of spices such as cloves or whole peppercorns make them suitable accompaniments for ham, duck or turkey, if you are so inclined. If I were serving these for non-meat eaters, I might pair them with some cheese or with vegetable crudités, or perhaps a platter of slow-roasted vegetables, spiced nuts and fruit.
Cippolini en agrodolce
6 cups cold water
1 lb. gold cippolini onions, trimmed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 bay leaf — optional
1 teaspoon whole cloves OR whole black peppercorns — optional
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
sea salt, to taste
freshly milled black pepper, to taste
Bring water to a boil in a large stockpot. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes. Drain, then peel. You may find it easier to blanch the onions first in a bowl of ice water prior to peeling. The skin should slip right off.
In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, warm olive oil over medium heat; you can add a bay leaf, whole cloves or whole black peppercorns if you like. Add onions and sauté until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the red wine vinegar (NOT balsamic vinegar; if you do, I will know and then I will come to your house to give you a scolding =P) and sugar. Raise heat to high. Stir frequently until syrup begins to caramelize, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat, taste for salt and pepper, then stir in parsley. Serve at once.
Time: About 1 hour. The vast majority of the time will be spent peeling the onions.