Apr 7, 2010

Cipolline borrettane - balsamico glazed onion recipe

If you've never tried the small and flat, pearl-white disk shaped onions called cipolline borettane, this is a tasty way to familiarize with them.

These delectable bulbs can be traced back to the 15th century where they were first grown in Boretto in the province of Emilia-Romagna. Now they are sold virtually everywhere in Italy, already peeled and ready for use.

Pair them with aged cheese platters, crusty Italian bread or a rare beef steak. This is our nanny's signature recipe, thank you Yolanda!

400 g (2 cups) cipolline borettane, peeled
1/2 glass balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp brown sugar

Blanch the onions whole in lightly salted water for 5 minutes, or until they begin to darken slightly. Drain, pat dry with a kitchen towel and set aside.

In a wide skillet, heat the oil and sauté the onions briefly; then splash in some extra old balsamic vinegar and brown sugar to deglaze the pan and caramelize the juices to create a lovely sticky sauce. 

The ingredient quantities should just be indicative, try to adjust to your own taste and desired degree of caramelization.

The onions are done when they are tawny and begin to fall apart.

Wine pairing tip: These sweet glazed onions will sing with a bright and juicy red made with a large percentage of Sangiovese grapes, one that does not have any Cabernet, Merlot, or Syrah in its blend.

Buon appetito!


  1. Oooh! I love this! The first time that the hubby made this, I was a feeling a little bit apprehensive. After all, it looked very dubious. But I gave it a try and its so very tasty.

    I love the sharp and sweet taste :-D

  2. i love, adore, am thrilled with this recipe!!!!!!!!!!

    i usually make a white sauce with these tiny little onions, always on the holiday table, and i can't wait to try this. balsamic and brown sugar---yum!


  3. Over the Easter holiday I was traveling between Rome, Abruzzo and Tuscany, and in a little argiturismo we found outside of Rieti we had (along with an overall amazing meal) the most delicious little cipolline agrodolci... I'm ashamed to say that I ate almost the whole dish (it was for a two persona antipasto) and I don't regret it at all!

  4. ooh, yummy - they look like plump luscious pearls before they're cooked and totally succulent when they're all golden and caramelised!

  5. was not familiar with these...but i love onions and these look amazing!

  6. We used to eat them boiled and squashed with a splash of olive oil and lots of crusty bread. I can actually grow these, finding memory tastes that take me back thousands of days back.


  7. This looks like something I want to try for myself. Thanks, Ele!

  8. I have only been able to get cipolline onions once and just loved them. They are not common here.

  9. I've never seen these before. I'll be on the lookout. I love caramelized onions and these would be a nice addition to the mix.
    THANKS for the tip.

  10. I've got a jar of these delicious little globules and they are tasty and jazz up a light supper of crispbread and ricotta just perfectly.


  11. Thank you for your kind comments!

    Rinaz~ you husband is a doll!
    KJ~ I make the creamed version on Thanksgiving too!
    Julia~ NEVER be ashamed of overindulging in something that makes you happy!
    Nicky~ I know, they're eye candy too!
    Brian~ They are my friend, truly amazing.
    Rosaria~ how about Lampascioni from your homeland Basilicata? I have to get you bulbs and send them over so you can grow those too.
    ChuckP~ With a nice juicy steak and some mashed potatoes? Religion.
    LoriE~ That's too bad. If I find the bulbs I'll send them over to you too.
    Joanna~ Beware: these are addictive.
    Julie~ How many points are they worth? ;) Love you


  12. Perfect recipe! Simple and lets those little onion shine. They are so pearl-like pretty on a platter.

  13. Oh, I love onions, of all kinds, cooked any way!

  14. I eat onions every day. This sounds amazing.

  15. If we're looking to cook this in the United States, would there be an approximate equivalent to the onions?

  16. Mouth watering recipe, description, and photos!

  17. Thank you for leaving your comment!

    Claudia~ It works so well with so many different things too!
    Saretta~ So do I!
    Nancie~ You should try this then.
    Daniel~ The equivalent are pearl onions.
    Beth W~ Thank you very much!


  18. i'm not sure but i don't think i've seen any of these tiny onions at our farmers market. pearl onions right? i am going to ask next time, this looks fantastic. i LOVE onions.
    thank you lola sweet ♥

  19. At first they seemed a bit strange to me. I did not realize that they were onions. Thanks for the recipe you have provided. Keep up the great work with your articles and please stop by my health blog sometime. The web address is http://healthy-nutrition-facts.blogspot.com/.

  20. ah, this intriguing recipe is still here. i get to look at your mouth watering photographs again.

    have a great weekend, lola. xoxo

  21. Adore this recipe. Reposting at http://www.facebook.com/pages/When-in-Rome-Tours/86249428754

  22. just set the water on the stove to boil the onions.... :)

  23. I love these onions. Most try this recipe...grazie.

  24. I love olive oil. I am using for the last 20 years. It is very delicious while make any recipe or prepare food.