Put time into dinner now, and you can make it last forever -- or at least the whole week. Welcome to Halfway to Dinner, where we show you how to stretch your staples every which way.
Today: Caramelized onions are your weeknight dinners' new friend.
I will never forget my first taste of caramelized onions. I was 23 years old, and some dear friends had made an extra-large batch of Ina Garten’s pan-fried onion dip just for me. At this point in my culinary experience, I didn’t really do onions, or any kind of creamy-dip that could possibly contain mayonnaise, but here were both in front of me, and I couldn’t be rude. As I took my first bite, I expected something sharp and raw, but it was so sweet! Like candy! It’s quite possible I spent the rest of the night there, in front of the dip, eating until they sent me home.
So I began to caramelize onions. They started again as dip, but soon I began to love them on their own, and they became a staple in my fridge. I would spend an afternoon slicing onion after onion, throwing them into a huge pan to cook for hours. There the rings would sweat out their sting until nothing but sweetness was left, and I would enjoy them all week long: in bread and pizza, puff pastry and pasta.
I followed this post on caramelized onions, using 8 onions for the week. Let's begin.
Caramelized Onion Tartlets
These tartlets come straight from Katie Quinn Davis’ beautiful book What Katie Ate. Just imagine puff pastry topped with caramelized onions, thyme, goat cheese, and reduced balsamic. And then make it. (Bonus: Here's an easy way to fake fancy balsamic.)
I learned long ago that making everyone their own, smaller pizza was worth the trouble. I can make my husband something basic, like chicken and caramelized onions, and I can experiment with pumpkin crème fraîche, caramelized onions, and mixed greens on top. The kids can have whatever they want, too.
Grilled Sandwich with Prosciutto, Pears, Caramelized Onions, Mozzarella, and Basil
This is a perfect "adult" grilled cheese sandwich. Follow these simple steps, adding all of the above into the mix before you put the second slice of bread on top. Dig in.
Frittata with Caramelized Onions and Smoked Mozzarella
Another favorite cookbook recipe -- this one comes from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty. I took the cauliflower out of his frittata and added caramelized onions, making quite a delicious dinner.
Goat Cheese Pasta with Caramelized Onions and Roasted Butternut Squash
When I was pregnant with my first child, I made this pasta twice a week for dinner. I craved it again during my second pregnancy, and while my husband refuses to eat it now (I can hardly blame him), I still enjoy it frequently. It’s just so good. If you don’t want to cut up a whole butternut squash for this recipe, you can buy frozen, diced squash, or substitute a sweet potato. When in season, other vegetables can be substituted as well; in the summer I eat this with roasted cherry tomatoes.
1 cup butternut squash, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound pasta of your choice
8 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
5 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 cup dry vermouth (white wine works, too)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 cup caramelized onions
Salt and pepper, to taste
Toasted pecans (optional)
Photos by Sarah Kieffer