Balsamic Onions


This is one of those recipes that I had seen over and over and for some reason didn’t pay attention to it. One day it grabbed me. How interesting, I thought, reading it over… being a fan of both onions and balsamic vinegar, I clued in – this is gonna be good!

I’ve actually made this before, using a mixture of sweet bell peppers, in place of the onions. (Sausage & Peppers Sandwich anyone….!) In both occasions, the veg cooked down to a melting softness, with both a savoury & sweet background. Perfect for topping things like bruschetta, to pizza, to tucking into a panini or burger for a flavour boost – it’s a very versatile condiment.

The recipe…??? From the woman who decades ago, made everyone fall in love with Tuscany. Frances Mayes. It’s just one of the many recipes in her memoir Under the Tuscan Sun, which has a special place on my bookshelf and indeed, in my heart. Used to carrying it everywhere, and I do mean everywhere – it’s my go-to when passing time in a line up or riding the subway.

Nothing could be simpler, you just have to watch that the sauté pan doesn’t get dry. If it does, just add another splash of vinegar. Don’t worry if it seems like you’re using too much… it will reduce, making the onions a lovely, caramelized mass. For what you put into it in terms of ingredients and time, this truly is a recipe where the sum is oh so much greater than the addition of it’s parts. 

Balsamic Onions

Do you believe I haven’t mentioned cucina povera yet…??? This is an excellent use of onions or peppers that have been hanging around in your veg basket too long. My first use for the onion recipe was on a white pizza. Paired with Italian sausage and a scattering of peppery arugula added after cooking, it made a tasty combo of flavours, temperatures & textures.

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, halved and cut into thin half moons
3 Tbsp. everyday balsamic vinegar, plus more as needed
a few grindings of black pepper
a pinch of Kosher salt

Preparation:
Add the olive oil to a sauté pan large enough to hold the onions, and heat over medium low (you want a low & slow cooking time for this).
Add the sliced onions, the balsamic, salt & pepper.
Stir to combine and let simmer over low heat… you don’t really want any browning, just the ‘melting’ of the onions. This should take at least 45 minutes on the stove, depending on all the variables like the thickness of your pan, your level & type of heat, etc etc. Be sure to check it every 10 minutes, to give it a stir and check that there is still some liquid in the pan.
When caramel coloured and limp, remove from heat and cool.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge.