Cipolline in Agrodolce

Sweet and Sour Onions

Preparation info

  • 4–6

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Alastair Little's Italian Kitchen

Alastair Little's Italian Kitchen

By Alastair Little

Published 1996

  • About

Pickling onions peeled (be prepared for some tears) and cooked with vinegar, sugar, pine nuts, butter and corinth raisins. Another Venetian dish clearly demonstrating that city’s link with the Middle East. This can be served as an antipasto or as a contorno.


  • 800 g large pickling onions, peeled
  • 55 g butter
  • tbsp sugar
  • 65 ml red wine vinegar
  • 30 g corinth raisins (if you can get them, otherwise Whitworths)
  • 35 g pine nuts
  • salt and pepper


    Trim the top and bottom of the onions minimally, otherwise they will break up during cooking.

    Set the oven to low, 140°C/275°F/Gas 1.

    Take a pan wide enough to hold the onions in a single layer and melt the butter in this over a medium flame. As soon as this starts to brown, add the sugar and half the vinegar. Add the onions and stir to coat. Cook over a low flame uncovered, but not stirring, for about 20 minutes. The onions will render a little liquid which will combine with the butter, vinegar and sugar. This liquid should be reduced by half during this process. Turn the onions carefully once during this time. Now add the raisins, pine nuts and the remaining vinegar. Mix carefully and bake in the oven for 45 minutes, turning occasionally, until caramel-brown.

    This dish is best served warm. If you try to serve it hot, the sugar content may scald your guests’ palates.