This way to cook Borettane onions, with this sweet and sour sauce, was created in Emilia, and it is the perfect complement to a vast variety of roasted meats, such as beef braised in Barolo wine.
It is a unique side dish, rich in fibre without the boring stigma associated with “healthy” foods.
In order to peel the onions, I found an American recipe that blanches them in a pot of boiling water followed by immersing them in a bowl of cold water to stop them from cooking. The temperature shift makes them easier to peel. In Italy, I usually find them peeled.

Sweet and sour Borettane cipolline in agrodolce
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: Makes 6 servings.


  • 2.2 lbs (1 kg.) Borettane onions, peeled
  • 1/3 cup (60 g.) sugar
  • 1½ cups (300 g.) water
  • ¾ cup (150 g.) balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil


In a non-stick pan, heat the olive oil and add the onions. Brown the onions and add the sugar. Stir to melt the sugar, and when onions are caramelized add the vinegar and cook for a few minutes, until most of it evaporates. Add the water, stir gently and cook for 10 minutes, then cover with a lid and cook for 10 more minutes.
Test with a fork; the onions are ready when they are soft.

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About the Author

Growing up in Emilia Romagna, a region known for Parmesan, Parma ham, lasagna, and filled pasta, a great deal of my childhood was spent in the kitchen with my grandmother and mother.

Even at a very young age, I could see that for them cooking was a passionate expression of their love for their family. While I’m filled with many warm memories of watching them cook, what I remember most is circling the table and watching the stove, waiting for any opportunity I could to steal a taste.