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Cipollini Onions Roasted with Balsamic Vinegar and Honey

Cippolini Onions Roasted with Balsamic Vinegar and Honey


Cipollini onions [chihp-oh-LEE-nee] have become a fall favorite in our house over the last few years, since I first encountered them in a jar at the antipasti counter at an Italian specialty store. They're sweeter than almost any other onion you can name.

Cipollini can be hard to find, but my friend Simon Frost, of Thirty Acre Farm in Whitefield, Maine, isn't afraid of growing unusual crops (see his black radishes) and this year he's bringing baskets of these beautiful little (about 2" in diameter) flying saucers to the market. Peeling them is a bit of work but I don't mind once or twice a year. Serve as a vegetable side to roast meat or cut up and include in a salad.

Cipollini Onions Roasted with Balsamic Vinegar and Honey

Serves 4.

Cipollini can be prepared ahead and kept refrigerated for a few days. Serve warm or at room temperature.

  • 1 1/4 lb cipollini onions, unpeeled
  • four sprigs fresh rosemary, thyme or oregano, chopped
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey

1. Place enough water in a sauce pan large enough to comfortably hold the cipollini. Bring the water to a boil.

2. Score an X in the root end of each onion and boil them in the water for 60 seconds. Drain and allow to cool. 

3. Preheat the oven to 450º.

4. Cut off the roots and stems and remove the onion peels.

5. Place the onions in a shallow dish or pan big enough to hold them all in one layer without crowding.

6. Combine the wine, soy sauce, vinegar and olive oil. Pour the mixture over the onions. Scatter on the herbs.

6. Roast in the preheated 450º oven for about 40 minutes, turning twice.

Nutritional Estimate 4 Servings. Per serving: 71 Calories; 12g Total Carbs; 2mg Dietary Fiber; 6mg Sugars; 1g Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 230mg Sodium; 1mg Protein. Weight Watchers: 1 point.


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I'm already planning the rest of the menu in my head! What a great photograph, too. Diane

Update on the family status of cipollini:

The blog "No Recipes" offers this information:
"Cipollini (pronounced chip-oh-lee-ni) are a type of onion and a member of the genus Allium. The round flat bulbs are typically very small and range in color from greenish yellow to golden brown.

There are several websites (including Epicurious, and The Food Network) that incorrectly define Cipollini’s as the bulb of a grape hyacinth (genus Muscari). While similar in appearance, they are not the same thing. Muscari bulbs are known as lampascioni and have a bitter taste."

Unfortunately no source is given for this information. (See the whole article at )

After a little more websurfing it seems that there is a lot of confusion, and maybe misinformation, about this. I did find in a couple of places suggestions to use cipollini as a substitute for lampascioni when called for in a recipe, since lampascioni are rarely if ever available fresh outside Italy, so perhaps over time cipollini replaced lampascioni in recipes to the point where people unfamiliar with them thought they were in fact the same as lampascioni, and therefore also the bulb of the grape hyacinth.

The taste of the lampascioni is invariably described as "slightly bitter" -- one blogger ( ) described the taste as "...similar to radicchio but with a hint of orange peel" -- which certainly doesn't fit the cipollini taste (sweet and mild).

(By the way, another thing I checked while doing this research was the correct plural form. I found -- in -- that cipollina is rendered as "baby onion," so, as I thought, the plural would indeed be cipollini.)

Any further information -- especially authoratative and sourced -- about this interesting plant would be appreciated!

-- Stephen

Where can I buy these retail?

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