Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Versatile Sweet Onions

Caramelized Onion Tart
I’ve been trying to use or preserve our windfall of onions from Persephone Farm before they go bad. When flipping through Canning for a New Generation, I read a great tip for using lots of onions. The author suggested caramelizing about 5 pounds of onions and then storing the onion in 1-cup servings in the freezer. I though this was the perfect idea. I love the sweet taste of caramelized onions and they are so good on pizza, mixed with bulghur, or spread on a baguette slice and topped with a sharp white cheddar cheese.

So I cooked the onions in a Dutch oven over low heat for about an hour and a half. At the end, I had sweet slices of onions that practically melt in the mouth. I tucked them away in the freezer knowing I’d find a good use for them.

A couple of days later I had the perfect excuse to get some out. Some friends had invited us over for a game night and I wanted to bring something to share. It was the perfect excuse to try a recipe for Caramelized Black Bean Butter that my friend Autumn had shared on Facebook. So I defrosted the onions for a minute in the microwave, then blended them with black beans and spices in the food processor. Thanks to the onions in the freezer, a yummy dip for tortilla chips was ready in just a few minutes with no cooking! And it was vegan.

Later in the week, I thought I’d make a Caramelized Onion Tart from the Moosewood New Classics cookbook. It’s a lovely, creamy quiche that works equally well for dinner or brunch. Or it’s a great addition to a party buffet that you can make a day ahead and serve at room temperature. And vegetarian guests will be happy you have a hearty, delicious dish for them to enjoy. Again, because my onions were already caramelized, it came together very quickly. (And not to waste anything, I made little cinnamon cookies from the pie dough scraps.)

Red Onion Marmalade
Finally I canned some Red Onion Marmalade from Canning For A New Generation. It’s sweet and tangy with a hit of cinnamon. You can serve it with roast meat. Or it’s really nice on a baguette slice with sharp cheddar or your favorite creamy cheese.

Lightly cooked onions are wonderful in a number of dishes. But when you cook them for a long time to bring out their sweetness and complexity, they become even more versatile.

Moosewood New Classics Caramelized Onion Tart

 Caramelized Black Bean Butter


  1. Hi! I'm so glad you were able to put all those onions to use. The tart looks and sounds absolutely lovely, and I'm quite intrigued by the baguette–cheddar–onion marmalade idea. I'll have to try that!

  2. Hey Denise,
    Great post! I'm def. gonna try the onion marmalade! You've posted a couple of times about freezing things - do you have a specific way of freezing veggies? Mine always seem to get freezer burn and then they never taste right. Also, another thing you can do with those onions is French Onion Soup - the recipe in Cooks Illustrated is really phenomenal - takes a long time, but ends up being really, really good. Keep 'em coming!
    xoxo, Christine

  3. Liana, thanks for such a great book! I'm getting so much from it!

    Christine, I don't have any secret freezing tricks, except labeling them clearly and trying to use what I have frozen pretty quickly. It helps to have a plan, like have the onions ready and know you can use them for soup recipe you mentioned. I'll have to look that one up!