Molly Stevens' Sweet Braised Whole Scallions

February 24, 2012

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

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- 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


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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Midge
  • mrsjessbridges
  • Sam1148
  • molly_stevens
  • duclosbe1
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


Midge February 27, 2012
I've got this in the oven right now and it smells amazing. I can't wait for spring to try it with ramps!
mrsjessbridges February 26, 2012
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.
Sam1148 February 26, 2012
Those would be fantastic on a pizza.
Arathi February 27, 2012
That is an awesome idea! I am definitely going to try it.
molly_stevens February 26, 2012
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.
Kristen M. February 26, 2012
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!
duclosbe1 February 25, 2012
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.
Anitalectric February 24, 2012
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.
AntoniaJames February 24, 2012
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)
mainecook61 February 24, 2012
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.
Panfusine February 24, 2012
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...
EmilyC February 24, 2012
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.
sianbum February 24, 2012
In Canada (at least in my neck of the woods), these are called Spring Onions. Are they same?
Panfusine February 24, 2012
Yay!! I thought we, Indians were the only ones that referred to these as spring onions!!
CarlaCooks February 25, 2012
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.,28804,1985677_1985674_1985659,00.html
charlotte A. February 24, 2012
this looks incredible!