In Italy, except for the thousands of wives and mothers cooking in family trattorie, a professional female chef is next to unknown. One of the few was Anna Gennari, a slight, high-spirited, immensely talented blonde who has since retired as executive chef of the Carlton Hotel’s Royal Grill in Bologna. The following recipe is of her devising.
Onions and pasta are a natural and—to those as fond of onion as I and most other Italians are—a delicious combination. The flavors of three members of the onion family supply the prevalent harmony in this recipe: in the stuffing onion itself dominates, joined by a few scallions; the beets add a surprising complementary flavor; the sauce is simply butter and fresh chives.
In this, as in any other Italian dish that requires a large quantity of onion, the onion’s sharp bite must be removed by cooking it down slowly until it is very soft and sheds all its juice; that juice is boiled away, then the onion is sautéed briskly until it becomes colored a light brown. Only at that point is it both sweet and savory.