Cooks all across Italy make a dish with onions called cipollata, which translates to ‘cooked onions’ and comes from the Italian for onions, cipolle (pronounced chi-polleh). In Umbria it’s a soup made with tomatoes while the Calabrian version is just onions cooked in olive oil and red pepper. They’re all part of what’s called cucina povere, the food of working people who’ve learned how to coax the most flavor from humble ingredients.
Sicilian cipollata, called cipuddata in the island’s dialect, is jammy with the sweet and sour agrodolce flavor brought from North Africa by the Moors. Often served alongside grilled fish or meat, especially the next day’s room temperature leftovers, it’s just as good heaped onto grilled bread or stirred into a bowl of pasta or beans.
It’s a classic Italian dish. Good ingredients, simple preparation, and delicious results. Walla Walla sweet onions are in season from July through August, so use them if you can. Yellow and red onions also work for this dish. Chop the onions, then caramelise them slowly over medium heat in extra virgin olive oil for about 40 minutes. Stir in red wine vinegar and honey for the agrodolce flavors.
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