Recipe: Sweet and sour onions

Preparation time: 45 minutes. Serves 6-8 as a side dish.


This simple and versatile recipe is one of my favourites. It can be eaten either warm or cold, and, depending how it is served, is like two different dishes. It works well warm with roast beef or grilled fish, such as sea bass or sea bream. When cold, the onions with their sweet and sour caramelised sauce become like a relish which can be eaten with cheese or on bread.

Like many Italian Jewish dishes, it features raisins, which are not common in mainstream Italian cuisine. Both recipes use small white onions, which may be difficult to source in England, in which case I suggest using shallots, which work just as well. Be aware however that you need many onions/shallots, so try to find pre-peeled ones, even if frozen. Once cooked it lasts several days in the fridge.

Balsamic vinegar can replace the regular wine/cider vinegar. And the Marsala adds an extra sweetness to the dish. If you can't find kosher Marsala, you can use port or kiddush wine.

Preparation time: 45 minutes. Serves 6-8 as a side dish.

● 1 kg small white onions or shallots
● 4 tablespoons of sugar
● 4 tablespoon of cider/white wine vinegar
● A handful of raisins
● 5-6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
● 4 tablespoons Marsala wine/ sweet wine
● A few tablespoons water
● Salt to taste

Cooking directions
● Peel the onions/shallots.
● Tip: To help in the process, soak the onions/shallots in warm water for a few minutes before peeling them.
● Warm the olive oil in a saucepan and add the onions/shallots together with a pinch of salt. Leave to cook over a high flame for a couple of minutes until the onions/shallots turn golden. Then reduce the flame and add the sugar, the vinegar and 2 tablespoons of warm water.
● Cover with a lid and leave to cook on low heat for 30-40 minutes stirring occasionally.
● Soak the raisins in the Marsala/sweet wine diluted with 2 tablespoons water.
● Halfway through the cooking process, add the raisins to the onions/shallots together with the Marsala wine and water.
● Stir well, cover and keep on cooking, adding some more water from time to time if needed, until the onions soften and the sauce becomes dense and caramelised.
● Serve either warm or at room temperature.
● The two alternative ways of serving have very different flavours but are both delicious. Try it both hot and cold and see which one you prefer.

Cooking for the soul

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