Mixed Greens Blog

Mixed Greens Blog
Living Sustainably in the Pacific Northwest


Alliums Have Landed (& they’re very sweet)

Caramelized Onions

No mystery to caramelizing onions. You’ll need a big pile, red or white, the patience to cook them gently for 20 – 30 minutes, and then the possibilities for delicious consumption are almost endless. Their natural sugars are emphasized after such cooking; they turn a golden brown and become a gentle, savory cousin to the sharply flavored raw version we’re familiar with. If onions can be comfort food, this just might be it.

Four or five medium sized onions will yield about 3 cups when caramelized. After just fifteen or twenty minutes you may decide the onions are perfect for your taste – that’s fine too. Enjoy.


4 – 5 medium Farmer’s Market onions, about six cups when sliced

4 tablespoons local butter, ghee or olive oil

1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste

Balsamic vinegar or orange juice optional


*Peel and slice onions. IMG_3490.jpg Preheat a large, heavy sauté’ or roasting pan on medium heat, and add butter or oil. Add the onions to melted butter or olive oil, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and stir. After several minutes adjust heat to medium/low so that onions cook gently and without browning too quickly.

Continue to cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Gradually the onions will begin to soften and become golden brown. You may add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar or orange juice at this point if you wish, and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Cook gently for a few more minutes. Remove from heat.

Now what? Place a serving of grilled salmon or steak atop a pile of caramelized onions, or serve with Italian sausage (a local version) and oven roasted tomatoes; simmer with chicken, beef or vegetable broth, a handful of chopped herbs and a splash of wine (optional) for a delicious soup; use as a salad topping mid-winter (maybe with a little bacon) to brighten the season’s coarser salad greens; try lentils with caramelized onions and plain yogurt, a universal and delicious combination. IMG_2074.jpg


*Since the root end has the strongest concentration of the enzyme alliinases, cut it last and you may save yourself a few tears.Alliu

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3 Responses »

  1. Oooh, agreed. Carmelized onions are one of the most versatile and loved ingredients in our kitchen. Last week was a caramelized onion dip for potato chips (admittedly not very local), and we like them on homemade pizza with sauteed mushrooms and sausage or any other number of combinations too. I’m excited to try your lentil and yogurt suggestion.

  2. Sally, I like caramelized onions in soups, stews, and sauces. They add an element of sweetness to otherwise savory dishes such as Stinging Nettle Soup. Do you have a favorite type of onion for caramelizing? Walla wallas would seem to be an obvious choice, but I bet there are other more obscure sorts out there than can have unusual flavors coaxed out of ’em with a little slow & low tenderness…

  3. Audrey, versions of cooked onions with lentils & yogurt are eaten worldwide I’m told. Let me know if you try them.
    Lang, I use whatever onions are local and organic, often just your everyday yellow onions. Walla wallas are great of course, so are red onions when you can get them.