Know Your Onions – Onions Braised in Wine and Balsamic Vinegar

What a funny expression that is. I struggled to find a decent explanation for it, although we use the expression to mean “knowing a lot about a subject”. If anyone can enlighten me, I’d love to know more!

Over on the beautiful prairies of the Midwest of America, our very dear friend Celia goes along each year to a big swapping fiesta. She usually comes home with some exotic and adorable creature like a white peacock or beautiful Boo the dog. Here, swapping is rife but generally restricted to gluts of fruit and vegetables and also poultry and eggs. As we’re not around so much right now, we can’t offer much but our dear friends and neighbours are busy keeping us supplied with delicious goodies.

Yesterday Big Man said he was popping out to see a man about some onions, as you do, and this is what he came home with.

Cebollas (3)

A lot of onions. And we’re due to be heading back to England in about a week, so there’s no way we can pack them into the car…we’d be asphyxiated by onion fumes. Time to get creative with onion recipes. Well, there’s Up the Mountain Onion Soup, of course. And maybe a caramelised onion tart. How about something different? Memories of my godmother, who came from the north of Italy, near Venice, and her method of cooking tiny onions in balsamic vinegar inspired me. I’m not sure if it’s exactly her recipe, but the taste was very similar and definitely worth buying onions to make specially.


  • Onions
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • White or red wine
  • Salt and pepper
  • A few stems of a hardy herb like oregano (or you could use thyme or rosemary)

Chop the tops and bottoms off the onions so that they will sit flat in a deep frying pan or saucepan. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle over the balsamic vinegar (I used about 2 tablespoons for approximately a dozen onions), the same quantity of olive oil and pour over a glass of wine. I used Vino del Terreno (this translates as Wine of the Earth or Terrain) which is a wine many of our neighbours produce, a little rough and slightly sweet but oh so good with salty food. Scatter over the herbs and cover tightly with a lid or foil.

Cebollas (7)

Bring the pot to boiling point and then reduce to the lowest heat possible and cook gently, turning the onions once or twice, for about an hour. Just before serving, remove the lid and turn up the heat to reduce the delicious cooking liquid slightly. We ate these onions hot as a side dish but they would be delicious served at room temperature as a tapas or starter.

And just in case you don’t like wine but do like dogs (clearly not braised in wine and balsamic vinegar) here is a completely gratuitous shot of my pups Luna and Alfi hoping I don’t notice they are hogging the sofa.

No Dogs On The Sofa Please
No Dogs On The Sofa Please



52 thoughts on “Know Your Onions – Onions Braised in Wine and Balsamic Vinegar

  1. You need a kunekune to sleep on the couch with those dogs! I absolutely and completely love this recipe, I often caramelise onions in balsamic but never whole little ones. I am desperate to try these. Wonderful. Safe travels.. again… take care darling and thank you for the mention.. c

    1. Oh I do need one! Can you imagine us at Calais Ferry Port going through the line with animals to declare. “So Madame, what ‘ave you zere?” “Well, two little dogs and a teeny tiny pig” “Is that for roasting Madame?” “No, it sits on my lap while I watch tv!”

  2. I love onions raw, cooked, roasted, sautéed, you name it and now most definitely braised in balsamic and wine. Yes please!
    Have a safe journey back to the UK and please give your pups a wee kiss on their heads from me.
    🙂 Mandy xo

    1. I had a pal visit for a few days and she took an enormous onion back in her hand luggage. Then she had a four hour delay in a hot airport so I can only imagine what her fellow passengers were thinking!

  3. My kitchen’s not complete without a stock of large onions – I’d say Spanish onions, but really they are from Perry Court farm in Kent. Your braised onions look delicious – I hope to see a tart next 😉

    1. From the look of Roger’s most recent post, I think he’s got the tart covered! Perry Court Farm – aren’t they the folk who sell at Bexhill Farmer’s Market? I might have to ask our neighbour for some onions to take with us but will have to beg him not to cut the stalks off (it will help reduce the smell in the car) but I think it goes against his nature to give me a messy looking onion!

      1. Yep – Martin has the best onions at the farmers market IMHO and he even tips the boxes up so I can pick out the largest ones! Perhaps you could tell your neighbour you want to plat the onions and hang them up 😉

      2. I don’t know if Martin actually goes to you market – it could be one of his relatives. You’ll know if it’s him – he’s about 6 foot 4, around 50 and has a rosy farmer complexion.

  4. I’m an onion lover , too!
    This dish must be fantastic and I’ll try it at Easter dinner….
    Tried to comment your “calamari” , but my comment was rejected: yesterday I prepared your recipe and it was delicious!
    Thank you for all you teach me!!!

  5. Oh sugar: a Kiwi kunekune conversant in French 🙂 ! What fun!!! And if the piggie can use the living room sofa, your dogs should have equal rights 🙂 !! Actually love your onion recipe and I too shall copy exactement, but definitely before Easter: shall order an extra lot of them!! [And I wonder how long we shall be wholeheartedly laughing about asparagus!!!!!] ?

  6. Delicious idea with the onions. Our neighbours are equally super generous with produce so I’m very grateful for this recipe.The dogs look very content…shame that there’s no room for anyone else on the sofa:)

  7. Mmm onions! Mr Dorset-Finca would eat raw onions all day long (if I’d let him). I think it’s his French-i-ness! I definitely prefer mine cooked a little!!

  8. Presumagly Big Man was out when that picture of the dogs was taken!!

    When in Tenerife Jo, M and I have enjoyed Cebolla con Miel at Tonis restaurant in Alcala. Will have to get the recipe from him, they are always delicious. I do like a cooked onion.

  9. I think you had a terrific idea on how to prepare the onions…they look great. I have done small chipollini onions that way and they are so good.

    1. What a shame – we’d have loved some chard! I’ve heard that freezing cooked onions is successful – I suppose you’ve cooked out all the moisture so the results must be better than with raw onions. Will have to experiment!

  10. Add me to the list of Onion Lovers Not So Anonymous, Tanya, and this dish of yours is a great way to prepare them. One of the joys of having our farmers markets reopen for the season is that there are always plenty of spring onions and baby leeks. We’ve still got a couple weeks to wait but your recipe has moved to the top of my “must make” list.
    You’re leaving again? Seems like you’ve just arrived. Have a wonderful trip. I cannot wait to hear all about it.

    1. Yes, we’ve been here a month but have 2 more properties to get on with. Hopefully we’ll be back in Spain for the end of the summer though! And as for those onions, we had some yesterday done like Calcots from the north of Spain (sort of baby scallions) griddled until the outer skin turns black then you peel it back to eat the soft sweet onion inside….so simple but so delicious!

  11. Vino del Terreno? According to Steve ALL wine is Wine of the Earth and must be consumed post haste. Wresting some for onions would be sacrilegious in his eyes BUT for this recipe I am willing to tussle. They look gorgeous! Just peeking back at the lovely haul of onions are those Welsh bunching onions on the top? I am in the process of attempting to source some and I have the dead set jel’s at the sight of yours ;). These onions look like something that I could set in Brunhilda and allow to simmer away for the afternoon to arrive on the dinner table caramelised and scrumptious to accompany something rustic with fresh bread and LOTS of butter. Can you tell I am champing at the bit for autumn’s crisp mornings to become cold enough to warrant lighting her? Our days are still in the low 20C’s so her delicious heat is too much at the moment but soon those onions shall be mine!

    Although extremely tempting, Earl braised in wine and vinegar wouldn’t be possible here. I don’t own a vessel big enough to hog tie that naughty little kitchen table thief and shove an onion in his ever questing beak let along an oven big enough to stuff him into…for now Earl…you are safe…

    Oh and CHEERS TO THE MAX for Celia’s scrumptious blog. I have an overriding desire to purchase 2 of every poultry specimen on earth. I think I am the female Noah but biased against anything other than poultry but our neighbours kicked up enough of a stink about excessive rooster noise, I am not all that sure that they would receive the dulcet tones of peacocks with delight. I can satisfy my poultry wanderlust by reading about Celia’s. A very VERY good compromise 🙂

    1. Steve is right- all wine is wine of the earth! I think the little onions are just baby versions of the other ones from where he thinned them out. Nothing goes to waste here. We did them on the griddle until the skins were all black and smokey then peeled off the outer layer and ate the sweet and gorgeous interiors drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice (both our own!). I still have a few left so think I’ll do them your way next with the butter…yum!

      Celia’s blog is wonderful – it makes us all want to be volunteer farm hands, or at least adopt a lamb or piglet J We’re gearing up to head back to England on Thursday (mixed emotions about this – want to get back and working and see pals and family, but was only just starting to relax and recover from the last session of work!). Am having to be creative with the contents of my fridge and freezer as I need to leave them both empty. Am serving Big Man with weird and wonderful concoctions and whenever he raises an eyebrow quizzically I reply “it’s a new kind of tapas”!

      1. You KNOW you are making me drool over those smoky onions don’t you? Just like Homer Simpson…”butter…emmmm!” 😉

        Ah the bliss of “Tapa’s”. The Spanish certainly knew what they were doing when it came to being creative with leftovers 😉

        Back to old blighty eh? Sounds like this building renovation lark is paying off. At least you are going at the right time as it is just about to become one of the prettiest places on earth come springtime 🙂

        Happy travels and at least you will be able to knock out the odd post here and there from your home base this time so that we can all be dead envious of how gorgeous your reno’s are and how amazingly you are able to knock up something for dinner that looks like you went out for a meal. You are the queen of the fast fandangle ma’am 🙂

      2. Indeed…the fast fandangle is second only to the fast fandango which I am sure you can perform in triplicate whenever there is a very large spider/rat on the floor in your magnificent hacienda “Chez Chicka”

      3. Now THAT I need to see in a blog post ma’am :). I suddenly have the urge to create myself a flamenco frock but as I have NO sewing talents whatsoever the results would be at the best terrifying and at the worst could have me landed on the worst dressed list at the Oscars (which I would OBVIOUSLY have to attend in my wonderful new flamenco dress)

      4. I think the worst dressed usually get the most coverage! I don’t have a flamenco dress sadly but I do want one – all black lace and drama!

      5. We would at least get noticed…maybe for all the wrong reasons but hey, sometimes you have to compromise 😉

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