Photo Credit: Elizabeth Newman
What is agrodolce? We’re diving headfirst into what this sweet and sour sauce is all about.
The concept of sweet and sour sauce may conjure up images of Chinese food, but the punchy sauce exists in the cuisine of Italy, too. Agrodolce literally means sour (agro) and sweet (dolce).
As a matter of fact, many condiments we know and love on a daily basis are all about the sweet and sour. Think ketchup, barbecue sauce, and even the act of adding some lemon juice to a dish. A successful dish is all about balance, which is why these sauces are so popular – the tangy sweetness of ketchup cuts through burgers and fries, barbecue sauce balances fall-apart decadent meats, and lemon juice will brighten up just about anything it touches. Agrodolce plays the same role: that sweet sour flavor will balance any number of Italian dishes, and bring on loads of big flavor.
So, what’s in agrodolce?
We’ve established that the two components of agrodolce are sweet and sour, and the recipe to make it is just as straightforward. The sauce is comprised of a sweet element – sugar, honey, maple syrup or any sweetener, really – and a sour element, which generally comes from vinegar. If you fancy, you can add aromatics like a smashed garlic clove or a sprig of herbs like thyme or rosemary as well.
To make the sauce, the sugar and vinegar are combined in a pan, and simmered down until it has reduced into a sticky, glazey consistency. At that point, it’s delicious on so many things. From vegetables like brussel sprouts or acorn squash, to pork chops or chicken breasts, it livens up just about any dish. Matter of fact, if you make a batch of it and store it in the fridge, you’ll probably have the desire to drizzle a bit of it on just about everything you make!
Turn to the recipes below for a few different spins on agrodolce sauce, and what Giada likes to pair with them!