Agrodolce is a traditional sweet and sour sauce used in Italian cooking very similar to a gastrique. Its name comes from “agro” (sour) and “dolce” (sweet).
(Many also say this describes my personality, but I’m pretty sure I’m more dolce and less agro. It depends on the day, I guess. For example, if my car has a flat tire, I am QUITE agro, especially toward the tire expressed as bad words and kicking, both of which, in case you wanted to know, are ineffective at problem solving. On the other hand, anyone stepping in to FIX the tire will experience my dolce side with sincere hopes he/she did not witness any of my agro. That would be embarrassing.)
A quick scan of the internet reveals agrodolce is made as many different ways as there are cooks, which is A LOT. Generally, it is made by reducing vinegar and sugar. Sometimes, wine, fruit, or chocolate are added to the mix. Most often it is used for fish or lamb but is also served over pasta and with many different vegetables.
Last week friends joined us at Wyebrook Farm, a farm-to-table restaurant and market located in Honey Brook, Pennsylvania. It is not to be missed if you live in this area! Everything on the menu is local and fresh, and it changes with the seasons. We sat outside on the most beautiful spring evening you ever want to see. Lovely! I had a green salad served atop–you guessed it–agrodolce.
This is my attempt to mimic the service at Wyebrook Farm.
First a smear of agrodolce…
Red Pepper Agrodolce
(from Martha Stewart)
Two large red bell peppers
One tablespoon olive oil
One-quarter cup raisins
One-quarter cup port wine
One tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
One tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Rub bell peppers with olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and transfer to oven; roast until peppers are blistering, about 15 minutes. Using tongs, transfer peppers to a large bowl and immediately cover with plastic wrap; let cool.
3. Using your fingers or a paper towel, rub skins to remove; discard skins. Stem and seed peppers and coarsely chop. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.
4. Place raisins, port, and 2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan; place over medium heat and cook gently until plump, about 5 minutes.
5. Transfer raisins and liquid to bowl with peppers, along with parsley and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Agrodolce can be made up to two days in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Note: Martha’s recipe stopped at that. I, however, placed my sauce in a small pot over medium-high heat and reduced it until it was a paste consistency. Try this recipe using cooked beets instead of roasted peppers. (And let me know how it is, because I haven’t tried it yet:))
I served my agrodolce alongside a green salad with lettuce from my garden. The leaves were so tender, and I dressed them with a low-fat salad dressing:
One-half cup balsamic vinegar
One tablespoon olive oil
One tablespoon nutritional yeast
One tablespoon soy sauce
One tablespoon maple syrup
One-half tablespoon dijon mustard
One-quarter teaspoon xanthan gum
However, you may serve agrodolce with almost anything you want.
Sweet and sour. A classic combination!