Cipolline sott’Aceto alla Bolognese

Bolognese Pickled Onions

When serving Bologna’s magnificent pork specialties—prosciutto, salami, mortadella—as antipasto, one usually accompanies them with an assortment of vegetables pickled in vinegar or preserved in olive oil. One of the most pleasing of such accompaniments are these home-pickled onions. There is a lively crunch to their consistency, and they have a judicious measure of tartness, enough to freshen the palate between helpings of meat, yet not so much to sting it. They are so easy to take that we even eat them on their own with good crusty bread. The onions are good within 48 hours of making, but they are even better after a month, when they are fully pickled and become colored an appealing purple.


  • 13 to 14 small, flat white onions, 1 to 1½ inches in diameter, about 6 ounces
  • 1 quart water
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • Red-wine vinegar


  1. Peel and wash the onions.
  2. Bring the water to a boil. Add the salt.
  3. When the water returns to a boil, put in the onions.
  4. When the water begins to boil again—and make sure the heat is high enough so it doesn’t take too long—cook the onions for less than 1 minute, at most 50 seconds.
  5. Drain the onions, pat them thoroughly dry with kitchen towels, and allow to cool completely.
  6. Choose a glass jar with a tight closure. When the onions are cold, put them in the jar, adding enough vinegar to cover amply.