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Vegetarian onion sauce “alla Romagnola” and my home recipe

Vegetarian onion sauce "alla Romagnola"

This recipe has been in my family’s repertoire for generations.
It is an onion sauce that I have always appreciated, and I have a clear memory of preparing it. And it has a secret.

Vegetarian onion sauce "alla Romagnola"

The secret of Sara’s onion sauce.

Grandma and I are in the kitchen.
When it’s time, she makes a nod, and I open the fridge in search of the jar.
I open it, and I smell that aroma I love so much. I still do.

I take a metal spoon from the drawer, I keep the jar tightly on the other hand, I step up on the chair Grandma has prepared for me, then she hugs me from behind.

Now I’m ready to pour two generous spoonfuls into the sauce.
Even three.
She says no, then laughs and to me, means yes. I stir satisfied before returning to a safe distance from the heat, letting Grandma finish cooking the onion sauce.

It is a traditional peasant sauce and a Bologna-Romagna recipe.
In what way? In Romagna, where I was born and grew up, it was a sauce for pasta.

What a surprise when in an old trattoria in the Bolognese countryside, in the part that looks towards Romagna, I found an onion sauce with the same flavor as Sara.
In that place, they used the same secret ingredient that she used.

In Bologna, it was and is a less widespread but well-known sauce.
Today the preparation I offer you is largely forgotten.

Are you ready for the secret ingredient? First one last note.
The characteristic of this onion sauce is its sweetness.
Many people use sugar. Nonna added a couple of tablespoons of apricot jam.

If you want to experience the authentic taste of this old country recipe, trust this recipe that has been tried and tested over many family meals.

Buona cucina, Monica

Onion and sauces.

Use a tablespoon of apricot jam to sweeten tomato sauces with onion also in the recipe for friggione, the Bolognese sauce traditionally served as a side or a main course.

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Homemade apricot jam

Onion sauce for pasta

Onion sauce for dressing pasta

serves 4
List of ingredients

1 large white onion
tomato paste, 50g
tomato sauce, 150g
water, 100g
3 tablespoons apricot jam (no added sugar)
salt and olive oil to taste

egg tagliolini (thin tagliatelle), 250g, or whatever pasta you prefer


Clean and finely slice the onion.

Cook the onion on low heat in a covered pan with olive oil and a pinch of salt until soft and translucent. When you think the onion is ready, it’s not.

To make a good sauce, gently stew the onion for a long time, even up to 40 minutes. Towards the end, remove the lid to let the water dry.

In a different pan, pour the passata, tomato paste, water, salt, oil, and mix.

Cook gently for 10 minutes before adding the soft onion and jam. Don’t miss to stir.

Continue cooking for further 10 minutes over low heat.

In the meantime, bring the water for the pasta to a boil, add salt and toss in the noodles.
Cook the egg pasta for a few minutes before draining and seasoning.

Serve with grated parmigiano cheese aside.

Vegetarian Onion Sauce

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