In Italian, this would be more correctly called cipolle agrodolce, or sweet and sour onions. The onions I talk of are actually shallots, but you could try using pearl onions instead. The idea here is to braise these little beauties in a mixture of garlic, wine vinegar and sugar, until they are caramelised and meltingly soft. If you only have access to regular sized onions, try this recipe, otherwise; read on.

The obvious pairing of these delightful onions would be with red meat, particularly grilled steak, but don't stop there. Try serving them with roasted poultry, particularly chicken or duck, and vegetarians; don't feel left out. Chop the onions agrodolce and toss them through freshly cooked pasta with rocket and Parmesan or place them in a sandwich with oven dried tomatoes and goat's cheese.


  • 500 gm (1 lb) peeled shallots or pearl onions
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbs caster sugar
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Method

    Heat the oil in a large heavy-based frying pan. Add the garlic and sauté gently until translucent. Add the shallots and toss to coat in the oil. Cook on a medium heat for 5 or 6 minutes to give them a nice colour.

    Add the sugar, vinegar and seasonings then stir to combine. Cut a round of greaseproof or non-stick cooking paper to snugly fit the top of the fry pan. Place over the onions and set on the lowest possible heat. Cook for ten minutes, then shake the pan to move the onions. Repeat every ten minutes, cooking the onions for half an hour. They should be soft and glossy. Cook for another 10 minutes if they are a little firm.

    Transfer to a bowl and cover with any remaining juices. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Re-heat before using.

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