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Molly Stevens' Sweet Braised Whole Scallions

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Every week, FOOD52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: Scallions graduate from garnish to side.

green onions

- Kristen

We hear braise and we think pot roasts, ragus, and other long-burbled pots of meat that fall to pieces. And, like Pavlov's dogs, we get deeply excited. But too often, we bookmark the idea of braising for some faraway weekend or the day we might finally break down and buy a crock pot.

But that all changes with Molly Stevens' book All About Braising, where she begins the conversation not with the typical well-worked cuts of meat or tough old birds, but with vegetables, then fish. Chicken fricassee and coq au vin don't even start to show up till chapter 4; beef debuts on page 214. The book rightly won both James Beard and IACP awards in 2005.

molly stevens  all about braising

It is with these earlier chapters that braising is opened up to us even on the weariest weeknight. Short-braising, as Stevens calls it, gives us the same benefits as the longer version -- the ease, the single pot, the self-basting and concentrated flavor --- with much less advance notice required.

The Vegetables chapter is particularly inspiring, as Stevens braises endive with pancetta, leeks with cream, fennel with thyme and black olives -- and whole scallions with water, and very little else.

Scallions are usually just a pretty face. Sliced into dainty coins, they doll up a homely bowl of chili and float like lily pads in murky dipping sauces. But treat them right and they're proud and delicious, all by themselves.


Here's how: Lop off the roots and tops, pile them in a buttered baking dish, and scatter on a bit more butter and either tarragon or parsley, depending on your mood and your herb supply (not to be confused with your Air Supply). Pour in just enough water to get them steaming, then stick them in the oven to brew, tightly covered.

green onions

Half an hour later, an oniony-rich perfume will be wafting about and your scallions will have mellowed and collapsed. Crank the heat to boil down the glaze and roast the tips. The final, non-negotiable step is squeezing on some lemon.

What remains is sweet, soft middles, blurred herb-smoked edges, and sparks of lemon, which you can twirl around your fork like linguine. Or, I'm guessing, you could cut them up like a proper vegetable side, especially if you're already slashing through your ribeye or lamb chop with a sharp steak knife.

braised scallions

But I wouldn't know, because every time I've made them, whoever is nearby simply crowds around, plucking whole scallions from the pan and stuffing them into their mouths. They're not the most delicate finger food, but neither are buffalo wings. Lemony juices and roasted bits of tarragon cling to your fingers and the pan is quickly emptied.

So you may want to plan on a backup vegetable side. Preferably something braised.

Note: Molly Wizenberg is also a big fan of Stevens' braised vegetables. Hear an early Spilled Milk podcast on braising and this recipe here (then subscribe the podcast quick, if you haven't already). Per her co-host Matthew Amster-Burton, "We're in for a meal of garnish."

Molly Stevens' Sweet Braised Whole Scallions

From All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking (W.W. Norton & Company, 2004)

Serves 4

2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pound scallions (about 5 bunches, or 3 dozen)

1/2 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh tarragon or 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lemon

See a slideshow and the full recipe (and save and print it) here.


Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].


Photos by James Ransom

For more of Molly Stevens' genius, don't miss last year's follow-up gem: All About Roasting: A New Approach to a Classic Art


The Genius Recipes cookbook is here! (Well, almost.) The book is a mix of greatest hits from the column and unpublished new favorites -- all told, over 100 recipes that will change the way you think about cooking. It'll be on shelves in April, but you can pre-order your copy now.

Tags: genius, molly stevens, braising, scallions, tarragon, side dish, vegetarian, special diets

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Comments (16)


over 3 years ago Midge

I've got this in the oven right now and it smells amazing. I can't wait for spring to try it with ramps!


over 3 years ago mrsjessbridges

After braising leeks for years and making scallion oil for vietnamese dishes I can't believe this never occurred to me. Another great low carb intense flavor side dish. Though, of course my brain says you could also puree and spread on toast or toss with pasta.


over 3 years ago Sam1148

Sam is a trusted home cook.

Those would be fantastic on a pizza.


over 3 years ago Arathi

That is an awesome idea! I am definitely going to try it.


over 3 years ago molly_stevens

Love the idea of braised scallions as finger food. Yum. For maximum enjoyment, trim away only the hairy root ends and the thinnest sliver of the bulb. The bottom bulbs are the sweetest, juiciest part of a scallion, so leave them intact as much as possible. I recently made this with fresh dill in place of tarragon, so good. Try any leftovers (if there are such a thing) with eggs. So good.


over 3 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Thanks for this wonderful recipe, Molly! Yes, by all means, trim as little of the bulb as possible -- to get this shot, I was balancing on my knees, squeezed between an old salvaged chemistry lab table and a dresser in Amanda's bedroom (a.k.a. our photo studio), so I didn't do the best job of that. I'm sure all of you will do better!


over 3 years ago Brianne Du Clos

Scallions don't get enough credit. Now I won't feel bad buying a bunch of scallions just to use one in a recipe! I am longing to own Molly Stevens' books; everything I've read about them has been so inspiring.


over 3 years ago Anitalectric

Anita is a vegan pastry chef & founder of Electric Blue Baking Co. in Brooklyn.

I totally want to make this but am sad to see she has you lop off those beautiful roots.

At Smorgasburg last summer, a vendor called Saucy by Nature served grilled scallions as a side order to their falafel sandwiches, and THE BEST PART, to my surprise, was the scallion roots! If they are good grilled, I bet they are also good braised. You just have to rinse out all the dirt and they are downright delightful--full of sweet, crunchy, earthy flavor. The most exciting part of the vegetable if you ask me.


over 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

We braise leeks, which are heavenly, so these braised scallions make perfect sense. And oh my, they do look delicious! Thanks so much for posting this. It's definitely on my must try (as in, this weekend) list. ;o)


over 3 years ago mainecook61

Had no scallions. I used the last-of-the-season leeks, a bunch of spindly pencil-thick castoffs from a box in the cold woodshed. I sliced them in half, length-wise, and gave them the braising treatment. Never has something so delicious come from something so scraggly. Alas, no more leeks. Time to start some more under the grow-lights.


over 3 years ago Panfusine

You guys REALLY need to bring out a compilation of these genius recipes in a cookbook form! Just when you think It can't get any better, you hit the ball out of the park again...


over 3 years ago EmilyC

All About Braising is one of my all-time favorite cookbooks, but I've never made this dish. You've inspired me to try it! The pictures above are amazing, by the way -- never have scallions looked so good.


over 3 years ago sianbum

In Canada (at least in my neck of the woods), these are called Spring Onions. Are they same?


over 3 years ago Panfusine

Yay!! I thought we, Indians were the only ones that referred to these as spring onions!!


over 3 years ago CarlaCooks

The Danish word, forårsløg, also translates to spring onion, though my Los Angeles family always refers to them as green onions. Either way, they're the same thing and are delicious. I made a batch of David Chang's ginger scallion sauce two weeks ago with two batches of green onions and the stuff is delicious! I've been adding it to a lot of soups, grilled meats, and fried rice dishes. http://www.time.com/time...


over 3 years ago charlotte au chocolat

this looks incredible!