When the leaves start turning and the nights become longer, I know my little onions are back and ready for some good cooking, and I could not be happier. A smaller, flat, pale onion, the cipolline flesh is slightly mild and the skins are papery thin. Ranging from pale yellow to light brown, they resemble the color of Spanish onions. Cipolline onions are sweeter, however, containing less residual sugar than shallots, but more than the average garden-variety white or yellow onions. Specialty markets and grocery stores will have them in stock when harvested in autumn, but prices become less reasonable when these flavor-packed babies are not in season.
A benefit of cipolline for home cooks is that the shape lends them well to roasting. My Balsamic-Glazed Cipolline combines the tenderness of these onions with a syrupy vinegar glaze for a result that practically melts in your mouth. These combined with cipolline sweetness makes for a unique substitution where you might want to use whole caramelized onions. Their seasonal flavor is perfect for recipes like Otto Pizzeria e Enoteca’s classic fall favorite: Balsamic, Onion & Goat Cheese Pizza.
The base of my pizza, an easy and versatile dough, is one that I’ve used for the restaurants as well as at home for years. I use the same recipe for flatbreads, both savory and sweet. I recommend making only one pizza at a time and serving each one as soon as it’s done. If you need to make a lot for a large party, cook several of them once (slightly undercook them) and then reheat them in a warm oven before serving.