These lovely and aromatic little onions can be served hot or cold, as an antipasto or side vegetable.
I should have used little Italian flat onions, like the borrettane, but they don't sell them in NZ so I used some normal pickling onions. Peel the onions, soak in water for two hours, drain and then cook very slowly with a dollop of vegetable margarine (or a tbsp of olive oil), a few fresh sage leaves and a pinch of salt for a long long time. I cooked them in a Le Creuset pot, with the lid on, stirring often. Check to see if you need to add just a little water half way through, but personally I didn't need it, mostly they cooked in their own steam (Le Creuset pots have great lids!!) and they caramelized a little too, becoming sweet and fragrant. All in all they took about 2 hours. Once they were cooked I turned the element off and added a drizzle of Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena Extra Vecchio (25 year old), covered them again with the lid, and let them rest for 20-30 minutes before serving.
Popular variations include adding cloves, or grilling the onions instead of simmering them (obviously the flat onions are easier to grill than the round pickling onions!).
Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©