Friggione of Bologna Recipe (Onion and Tomato Pot)

Time and again, I want recipes that require few ingredients. And just enough love to add the right flavor to each dish. Like the friggione.

It is not just an onion sauce, even if it is that, but rather one dish with identity, history.

Friggione of Bologna (onion and tomato pot)

Friggione: a recipe of Bologna.

This original Bolognese recipe dates to 1886. It was found in the cookbook of Maria Manfredi Baschieri, an Italian housewife and cook who lived in Bologna. She was the first who noted the recipe.

Friggione is a rustic dish of the Bolognese peasant tradition and that part of Romagna that borders Bologna.

It’s a versatile dish.
You can serve it as a side that goes well with everything, but you can also present it as a main course or one dish. That was the peasant habit of the past when, for example, people cooked pieces of tasty sausage in the friggione.

It’s a perfect sauce even to dress pasta or make excellent croutons.

I like to serve it with piadina romagnola. And if you don’t have piadina, it doesn’t matter. The important thing is not to forget the bread. The friggione calls for the scarpetta (look among the reading tips, you will find an article on the Italian rite called scarpetta).

Finally, you can eat it hot or warm.

Friggione of Bologna.

It should be a bit greasy, almost like Bolognese ragù. Not for nothing once, there was who added lard in the pot. Today, if you prefer, you can replace the lard with sweet bacon.

In the past, while the friggione was cooking, pieces of tasty sausages or slices of prosciutto crudo were added, cut thinly but not too thinly. That gave flavor to the dish without the need for salt. And from a side dish it became a one-dish meal.

But friggione is also perfect without meat.

I still remember when my grandmother scooped out a slice of ham glistening with tomato and rather salty from the long cooking. It was irresistible to me, and I would eat it with a piece of piadina while the sauce was cooling.

Friggione of Bologna recipe

White onions

Main ingredients.

Onion and tomato.

The onion should be well stewed and melt in your mouth.
I recommend slicing it thinly.

As for the onion, if you can, use the white one. I have also tried the yellow ones, but after tasting them, I didn’t find the authentic flavor of the friggione. So, according to the traditional recipe, I also say white.

The sauce – according to tradition – is ‘slow’ and, despite the long cooking time, should not be thick.

To make friggione, you need fresh or peeled tomatoes.

At my house, we used the second. We used to use tomatoes my grandmother had put in a jar the previous season. She would drain the liquid from the vegetables without throwing it away because she would add it during cooking, removing only any seeds after cutting the tomatoes into pieces.

I prepare it using a good passata (tomato puree) and add just enough water so that the sauce remains fluid.

On tomatoes, I’ll leave you a personal note. I don’t use fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes because I can’t stand tomato skins. If I choose sun-ripened tomatoes in the summer, I prefer to puree them. And after cooking, remove the skin and seeds. Or, if you are in a hurry, blanch the tomatoes for a few minutes and then remove the skin.

Buona cucina, Monica

Cook with me.

Friggione and piadina romagnola are a great pair.

Of the historical and gastronomic ties between Bologna and Romagna, I wrote about them HERE.

Reading Tips.

About the homemade self-production of jams, syrups and bottle of passata and how their preparation was a ritual that in the countryside gathered families around large fires in the hot summer days, I wrote in the post Homemade Fruit Syrups And The Bonfire Seasons.

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Friggione of Bologna recipe (tomato and onion pot)

Food Tips

  • I recommend soaking the sliced onions in cold water and sugar (changing the water 2-3 times and adding a couple of tablespoons of sugar each time). This way, the onion becomes sweet and irresistible as it cooks.
  • If you want to add a piece of ham to make the friggione tastier or some sausage to have a complete second course, do it towards the end of cooking to avoid the sauce being too salty. And don’t add salt during cooking. If necessary, adjust at the end.
  • Are you short on time? Stew the onions for about ten minutes, add fresh or canned tomatoes or passata, like me, and cook for one hour or one hour and a half. If, on the other hand, you aren’t in a hurry and you want to taste a friggione more similar to that of the Bolognese tradition, I’ll wait for you below.

Friggione Recipe (Onion and Tomato Pot) 

serves 6
List of Ingredients

1 kg onions, preferably white
350 g passata or 200 g peeled tomatoes (with their filtered liquid)
100 g water
brown sugar, a few tablespoons
evo oil, generously enough
salt, to taste

optional: 2 tablespoons apricot jam or sugar


Clean and thinly slice the onions, then transfer to a bowl with two tablespoons of sugar, cover with cold water and stir. Let stand for 30 minutes, then change the water and let stand for another 30 minutes.

Drain the onion from the water, place in a high-sided pan with olive oil, and stew gently with the pan covered for about 1 hour. Stir occasionally.

Then remove the lid and cook for 10 to 15 minutes over gentle heat, stirring.

Add the salt, tomato sauce, water, and more olive oil and mix. Also, add the jam or sugar and stir. Cook covered pan over low heat for about an hour. Also for an hour and a half.

If the sauce is too slow after this time, continue cooking for as long as necessary; if it is too thick, add water.

For a friggione more consumed, extend the cooking time even to 2 hours.
When you are short on time, stew for 40 minutes.

Let rest, taste, and adjust the salt.

Friggione of Bologna recipe


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