Peeling Back the Layers

onionsOnions Star in 3 Seasonal Recipes

By Mary Reilly

Onions are the kitchen workhorse. So many delicious recipes are built on their savory foundation. Without onions, we’d have no mirepoix, Cajun trinity or soffrito. But these pantry MVPs can star on their own as well. In these recipes, we celebrate the onion’s, well, “onion-ness.” Whether they’re red, white, yellow or sweet, show off your onions!

Aunt Helen’s Three-Cheese Onions

I was introduced to this dish at a family Thanksgiving dinner. The casserole is more a condiment than a side dish, so don’t be scared by the amount of cheese in the dish, as the serving size will be small. Serves 6–8 as a side dish.

Butter, for greasing baking dish
6 large onions, sliced
Freshly ground pepper
1½ c. (6 oz.) shredded Havarti
10 oz. Boursin cheese (substitute herbed goat cheese)
1½ cup (6 oz.) shredded Gruyere

Heat oven to 350°.

Grease a 2-qt. baking dish with butter.

Layer one-third of the onions into the dish and sprinkle with Havarti and a few pinches of ground pepper. Top with another one-third of the onions and then, add Boursin and a few more pinches of pepper. Put the rest of the onions into the dish and top with the Gruyere and yet a little more pepper. The onions may be falling out of the top of the baking dish at this point, press them down as best you can––they’ll collapse during baking.

Place the dish onto a baking sheet (in case any oil drips out of the pan). Bake for about 1 hr., or until the onions are tender.

Baked Stuffed Onions with Chorizo

These slightly Southwestern-spiced onions are a delicious light entree best enjoyed with a green salad on the side. For a vegetarian option, substitute vegetarian sausage or chopped mushrooms for the chorizo. Serves 8 as a light entree or side dish.

8 med. (tennis ball-sized) sweet (like Vidalia) or red onions
Salt
2 T. olive oil
8 oz. fresh chorizo, removed from casing
¼ c. finely chopped carrot
1 T. minced garlic
½ c. crumbled cornbread (substitute panko breadcrumbs)
1 T. finely chopped fresh oregano
1 T. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ c. (2 oz.) grated cheddar cheese
¼ c. (1 oz.) crumbled cotija or ricotta salata cheese

Preheat oven to 400°. Cut off the tops and bottoms of each onion. Remove outer peel. Using a spoon or melon baller, carefully remove about two-thirds of the inside of each onion, leaving the bottom intact. Reserve the scooped-out onion and set aside. Sprinkle the onion cups with salt. Transfer to a baking dish large enough to snugly hold the onions. Cover pan with a square of parchment and then a sheet of aluminum foil. Bake onions until just tender, 45 min. to one hour. Remove from oven and uncover pan.

While the onions are cooking, prepare the stuffing. Finely chop the reserved onion centers. Add the oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is hot but not shimmering, add the chopped onion, chorizo, carrot and garlic to the pan. Cooking, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened and the chorizo is cooked through. Drain any excess fat or liquid from the sausage. Stir in cornbread, herbs and cheddar cheese. Check the seasoning and add salt to taste.

Fill baked onions with stuffing, then top with the cotija cheese. Bake until cheese is starting to brown, about 20 min. more.

Pissaladiere

A Provencal specialty, pissaladiere is an onion-topped flatbread. You can use store-bought pizza dough or use our long-rise pizza dough recipe. Makes one large flatbread, serving 6–8 as a starter.

2 T. butter
3 T. olive oil
4 lb. onions, thinly sliced
Pinch of salt
10–12 ounces pizza dough (see recipe below)
Flour for dusting surface
10 anchovy fillets, drained
10 oil-cured black olives, pitted, cut in half
1 T. chopped fresh thyme
Freshly ground black pepper

In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, melt the butter and oil together. When hot, add the onions and salt. Cook stirring frequently, until onions have softened and are starting to turn a deep brown, about 30 min. Remove from heat and cool.

Heat the oven to 400°.

On lightly dusted surface, roll out the dough to a 11-in. circle. Use flour as need to keep the dough from sticking. Lay the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Spread the onions evenly across the top of the dough and top with anchovies, olives and thyme.

Bake for 15–20 min., or until dough is golden and crisp. Sprinkle with pepper. Cut into squares to serve.

Long-Rise Pizza Dough
200 g. (about 1½ c.) bread flour
4 g. (¾ t.) salt
3 g. (about ¾ t.) instant yeast
130 g. (about 1⁄3 c.) water

Combine flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Use a rubber spatula to stir dry ingredients together. Add water and stir into flour with the spatula until evenly moistened, adding more water if the dough seems very dry. Use the spatula to scrape any dry patches off sides of bowl. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature for 8–12 hours.

Lightly flour your work surface and scrape the dough out of the bowl. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and form into a ball. Place into a lightly oiled zipper-lock freezer bag. Place in refrigerator and allow to rise 2–4 days.

When you’re ready to make the pissaladiere, remove dough from refrigerator, and allow to rest, covered with an overturned bowl for at least an hour before shaping and baking.

MaryReillyMary Reilly is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Edible Pioneer Valley. She is a local leader for the Chefs Collaborative Western MA chapter, and a member of Les Dames D’Escoffier and the IACP. In a past life she was the chef-owner of Enzo Restaurant & Bar. When not writing, editing, or engaged in supersecret publisher activity, she can be found experimenting in her kitchen.

,

Comments are closed.