Sweet, tangy and simple to make, this humble sauce agrodolce is a vibrant late summer or early fall dish featuring ingredients straight from the garden.
What is Agrodolce?
Agrodolce is basically the Italian version of sweet and sour sauce. To classify as an agrodolce, a sauce must be made from a reduction of both a sweet element, (usually sugar), with a sour element, (typically vinegar). (The basic concept is not dissimilar to a French gastrique.)
The sauce’s origins are Sicilian and there are about as many variations on this sauce as there are native, Sicilian ingredients. (This includes onions, capers, olives, eggplant and of course, tomatoes.) Typically, it uses what’s in season to create a low-stress, full-flavored sauce for enhancing vegetables, pasta, fish, meat or poultry.
What makes this recipe special
This version of agrodolce was created by one of my favorite caterers and food consultants, Anne Janzen. Although Anne no longer works as a caterer to the stars, she held on to this recipe inspired by her Los Angeles garden. It’s her answer to what to do with the peak-of-season late summer and autumn tomatoes.
Anne’s tomato salsa agrodolce recipe uses ripe, red tomatoes, slowly reduced with that traditional combination of sugar and vinegar. Comments Anne, “This perfumed, subtly-flavored sauce has become one of my go-to favorites for a fresh piece of fish or meat. I feel that, used judiciously, this is a sauce that enhances, rather than disguises, natural flavors. It is one of my favorite recipes for utilizing those end-of-season tomatoes!” (Don’t forget, the tomato is an aphrodisiac of legendary repute!)
Anne does not puree her tomato agrodolce, leaving it with a natural hint of texture. However, if you prefer a smooth sauce, pureeing before serving gives the sweet and sour condiment an elegant, velvety texture.
Use this sauce recipe on fish, chicken or grilled beef. It also makes a tangy dip for somewhat bitter vegetables like Brussels sprouts or broccoli. But you can even use it as a spread to give a vegetarian sandwich some zip.
For another one of Anne’s great tomato season recipes, check out her heirloom tomato jam recipe.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup onions chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley minced
- 2 cups tomatoes peeled and diced
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3 grinds black pepper
- 1 heaping tbsp fresh basil chopped (or 1/4 tsp dried)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- Heat your saucepan and add the oil.
- Add the onions and saute gently for 5 minutes.
- Add parsley and saute another 2 minutes.
- Mix in your tomatoes, salt, and pepper. This is also the time to add your basil if you are using dried. Otherwise – save your fresh basil until you remove the sauce from the heat.
- Cook this over low heat for 15 minutes.
- Mix in the sugar, cinnamon and vinegar.
- Cook for an additional 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in fresh basil (if using fresh).
A note on the provided nutrition informationThe nutrition information provided has been estimated by an online nutrition calculator and is not a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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