Calabria is one of the food bowls of Italy, producing large amounts of fresh produce for local and export markets. Olive oil, grains and citrus (they are the largest producer of Bergamot Oranges in Italy) are a few of a long list of foods grown in the region. One that Calabria is famous for is the ‘cipolla rossa di Tropea’ or Tropea Onion. It is grown all over Calabria but the ones grown around Tropea and its surrounding villages are renowned for their sweetness.
These onions became a staple during hard times and the locals have created many dishes using these onions as a stand alone meal. One is ‘pasta with onion sauce’ which we finally had the opportunity of sampling on our trip to Calabria in 2014. The recipe for this dish is kind of a guarded secret and after deciphering the few coded hints offered by a local chef, some online research, sourcing seeds in Australia, growing them (which took one year!) and experimenting with the recipe, hey presto, here’s my version of the dish!
Ok, Tropea onions are probably quite hard to find, so you can easily substitute them with any other sweet onion. Ask your greengrocer for the best alternative.