Sometimes all a less-than-satisfying breakfast needs is a splash of a killer condiment. While hot sauce and maple syrup do their jobs well, there’s another, lesser known sauce I must direct your attention to. It’s agrodolce, and its flavor is just as delightful as it was to say the word. A traditional Italian sweet and sour condiment (though if you speak Italian, you already knew that, as agro means sour and dolce means sweet) made by reducing so-flavored ingredients, usually vinegar and sugar, together into a sauce. While agrodolce is often served over pasta or meat, I’ve found that plunking a bowl of the stuff in the center of a brunch table goes over like gangbusters. To flesh out the notes of sweet in the vinegary sauce, both fresh and dried fruit often find their way into agrodolce—I like pairing plums and grapes with dates, but anything from figs and raisins to rhubarb and currants will do the trick.
To start a batch of agrodolce, preheat the oven to 375ºF and toss 1 ½ cups diced peeled plums, ½ cup halved red grapes, ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion, and 1 seeded and thinly sliced Fresno chile with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, and lots of freshly ground black pepper on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
When the fruit is just about done roasting, mix ¼ cup maple syrup, ½ cup red wine vinegar, and ½ cup chopped dates with ¼ cup of water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture slowly to a boil. After the mixture has boiled for about 2 minutes, remove from the heat.
When the plum mixture comes out of the oven, pour it into the saucepan with the syrup mixture. Use a potato masher to break up the fruit until the mixture reaches your desired level of chunkiness.
Plum agrodolce goes really well with sweet stuff: over yogurt with a handful of chopped pine nuts or walnuts, on pancakes and waffles, or drizzled onto a warm biscuit. At the same time, it’s a delightful complement to savory dishes like pork sausage, cheese toast, or grain bowls.