Looking for a special appetizer? Try caramelized borettana onions with a selection of cured meats.
The Borettana onion has extremely old roots and a storied history. These onions, like their name, come from the town of Boretto in the province of Reggio Emilia, but they’re now common throughout the whole area surrounding Parma. For more than 5 centuries, borettana onions were among the most common crops in that territory, which is also known in Italian as the “bassa padana”. With hard, clay-rich soil, the terrain is what gives borettana onions their one-of-a-kind appearance and unique health properties. The harvest takes place in the summer. The onions that will be consumed fresh are stored at 0°/32°F in refrigerated warehouses, and can be sold until the following April. They’re impossible to miss, and can be spotted by their flattened shape and straw-colored hue, as well as for their sweet aftertaste.
Smaller bulbs are put in jars to preserve, while larger ones are eaten fresh. Their strong, sweet flavor makes them perfect caramelized or preserved in vinegar. Despite their bold flavor, they’re very versatile in the kitchen. They make an excellent side dish to accompany roasted or cured meats, as well as fried gnocchi. Their sweet aftertaste balances out the intensity of certain meats and cheeses, and they also go well with another one of the leading products from the region of Reggio Emilia, balsamic vinegar.
Did you know
Beyond their unique flavor, Borettana onions are also well known for their nutritional value. They’re rich in minerals, vitamin C and natural antibiotics, as well as compounds that prevent water retention and protect the liver. All these features make them an excellent antioxidant, to the point that they’re even used to make natural cosmetics.