Some of the world’s best recipes were born of necessity. Like Beef Wellington. I mean, what else do you do when there’s nothing in the fridge but puff pastry, mousse de foie gras and a a whole beef tenderloin?
This dish is just like that. Deep into the sometimes challenging fall produce season, I was staring at a collection of cippolini onions, broccoli and a new Cranberry Port wine jam from Sapore Oil and Vinegar, that was just calling out for a bacon vinaigrette. A request for recommendations on my Facebook page produced a comment from ginger-haired Steve Carpinelli, and Carpinelli’s Cippolinis were born, dressed in a red cranberry port vinaigrette.
The dish balances mildly sharp cippolinis, sweet jam, and salty/fatty bacon, all grounded by earthy broccoli. It’s colorful and fun, and offers a nice break to otherwise hearty-rich fall meals.
Carpinelli’s Cippolini Cranberry Salad
- 2 cups cipolini onions
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 1/2 cup fresh cranberries, chopped
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1 thick slice bacon, diced
- 2 tbs Arbequina Olive Oil*
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 1/4 cup Cranberry Port Jam*
- 1/4 cup Roasted Red Pepper Blackberry vinegar*
*Arbequina is a mild, grassy, Spanish olive oil. Sherry vinegar is a slightly more acidic substitute for Roasted Red Pepper Blackberry. Red currant jam can be found in most grocery stores and used in place of the Cranberry Port.
- In a large pot of salted boiling water, blanch onions for 30-45 seconds. Shock in an ice bath, drain and peel.
- Blanch broccoli florets in the same water until bright green and crisp tender, about 90 seconds. Chill in ice bath, drain and dry.
- Fry bacon in skillet over medium heat. When cooked through, remove bacon, leaving fat in the pan.
- Add Arbequina olive oil as needed to make 1/4 cup fat.. Add shallots and sauté until softened, 3-5 min.
- Add Cranberry Port Jam and whisk until it “melts” into the fat.
- Turn heat to medium-high, add sherry, cippolinis and cranberries. Cook 2 minutes while dressing reduces.
- Season broccoli florets with salt and a splash of Roasted Red Pepper Blackberry Vinegar. Top with cippolinis and dressing and sprinkle with dried cranberries.
*Make it vegetarian. Leave out the bacon and start the dressing by sautéing the shallot in olive oil.
About seven bites into the plate I couldn’t help but load as high as the laws of physics would allow, Thanksgiving dinner begins to feel like an onslaught of flavors. Roasted turkey, fluffy and buttery mashed potatoes, stuffing hot out of the bird, winter vegetables mashed, roasted and glazed, and the whole plate dripping in thick, flavorful gravy. My palate cries “Uncle!”
Cranberries provide an island in that storm: tart, black-red and jammy. That is, unless you plop the cloying, wobbly log of jello out of the can. While my brother requires its presence on our Thanksgiving table, I instead look to whole cranberry compote, fresh, minced cranberry salad, or even a savory cranberry mold to deliver much needed relief.
Cranberries see the world in black and white: all acidity and no sugar. So even the tartest cranberry dish needs sweet balance. This compote delivers it with Cippolini onions, glazed with maple sugar, butter and rich stock. The cranberries cook down in port wine to a thick, jammy texture. One spoonful per dinner guest will satisfy. But make a double batch. Blended with a little mayo, it will transform the sandwiches you’ll inevitable be sharing around the kitchen table later that night.
Cranberry Cippolini Compote
- 2 cups cippolini or pearl onions
- 2 tbs butter
- 3/4 cup maple sugar*
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp finely chopped rosemary
- 1.5 cups vegetable or veal stock
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup port
- 1/2 cup apple cider
*You can substitute a mixture of half light brown sugar and half white sugar for the maple sugar.
- Blanch onions in boiling water for 1 minute. Remove to an ice bath. Trim tips and roots of onions, be careful to leave the base of the onion intact so that they don’t fall apart. If the onions are larger than bite sized, cut them in half.
- Melt butter over medium heat in a 3 qt saucepan. Add onions and cook for 3-4 minutes, until golden brown in places.
- Add 1/4 cup sugar, garlic and rosemary. Cook 1-2 minutes until garlic is golden.
- Pour in stock, reduce heat and simmer until liquid reduces to a thick glaze. Be careful not to burn the garlic as the liquid reduces.
- Add cranberries, port, and cider. Simmer over low heat until liquid is reduced to a glaze and cranberries have turned jammy. The cranberries will pop delightfully as they cook. but don’t worry, the juices don’t spatter out of the pot.
- Season to taste with balsamic vinegar, a pinch of salt and pepper, and additional sugar if needed.