serves: 6 servings
Cipolotto di Acquaviva, small sweet onions baked with a sprinkle of bread crumbs, is another one of those simple gems from the Antichi Sapori restaurant. Acquaviva is a nearby town, famed for the sweetness of its onions. Chef Pietro Zito prepared them for me this way and they were as sweet as apples. To make these at home, buy any of the sweet onions in the market-such as Vidalia, Walla Walla or Maui-preferably small, flattish ones, about 2 ounces each. Serve 3 or 4 baked onion halves as an appetizer. You can also season and roast the onions on a slow grill, covered-they make a great accompaniment to grilled fish and meat. And very small onions baked Acquaviva-style are a wonderful bite-size hors d'oeuvre.
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1½ pounds sweet onions
½ cup bread crumbs
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with a rack in the center. Coat the baking sheet with a light film of olive oil.
Peel the onions thoroughly. Trim a thin slice off the stem and root of each onion, so both ends are flat. Slice the onion in half-through its wide equator-and set the halves on the baking sheet, resting on the trimmed end, large cut side. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on each onion half.
Toss the bread crumbs with the salt and chopped thyme leaves. Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil on the crumbs and toss until evenly moistened. Sprinkle some of the crumbs on the flat tops of the onions-about a teaspoon on each. Finally, drizzle the remaining olive oil over all. Cover the sheet pan with aluminum foil, arching it so it does not touch the onions and crimping it against the rim of the pan.
Bake for about 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes or until the crumb topping is golden and crisped and the onions are soft and slightly caramelized. Remove from the oven and let the onions sit on the sheet for a few minutes. While they're still warm, arrange the onions on a platter and serve.