It’s been a very exciting few days around here at allanabytes! My first published article in Edible Vineyard was posted online [the hard copies should be arriving any day!] and the episode I filmed for Jewel Osco “Chi Town Stories” was also posted online. I knew both of these things would be happening around early November, but I had no idea they’d be posted within days of each other. I can’t thank you all enough for the kind words about both. The whole reason I do these things – share my stories, recipes, writing and photos is to inspire and instill a bit of food inspiration in all of you. If I made you smile or crave caramelized onions or homemade pasta, I’d consider it a job well done. While I will be sharing another post this week about my experience with the filming, today is all about onions. Sweet, buttery & rich Caramelized Onions.
When my good friend and editor-in-chief asked if I’d like to write for Edible Vineyard, I jumped at the chance. When she asked if I wanted to write “An Ode” to my favorite food, I jumped out of my seat and into a bowl of onions. If you read allanabytes or know me in person, you know I’m an enthusiastic eater. I’m especially enthusiastic about caramelized onions.
As I mentioned in my article, it all began with raw onions. Sure, things have changed and my palate has evolved, but if it weren’t for my (many) introductions of raw onions as a child, I truly don’t think I’d appreciate caramelized onions as much as I do today. They’re a versatile ingredient and can be adapted into so many dishes. I love them in mixed with eggs or in pasta sauces. They’re ridiculously tasty on pizza or crostini with a sharp and strong cheese. I slurp them up slowly in french onion soup, only so I can hold on to that sweet caramelized flavor. I love that you can add depth to caramelized onions by adding splashes of vinegars or sugar during the cooking process. I love that they can taste sweet, savory, strong or mild depending on how you cook them. I especially love the cooking process: it’s inventive, requires patience and worth all the tears.
To accompany the Edible article, I was asked to create two recipes that involve caramelized onions. Since carbs are my favorite food group, I thought caramelized onions would especially shine in a stuffed shell pasta recipe. The second creation was simple, but classic: my Balsamic Caramelized Onions. Please make them and then invite me over so we can eat them with everything and anything. What can I say? I’m a total #onionlover.
- 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 box jumbo shells
- 2 cups Balsamic Caramelized Onions (or the amount of 2 onions, caramelized and cooked down)
- 1/4 cup goat cheese
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- Parmesan cheese, to garnish
- 1/4 cup vegetable stock
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- fresh sage, for garnish
- salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400°. In a sheet pan, toss the sweet potatoes with the olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Roast them for 30 minutes or until they begin to brown on the edges.
While the sweet potatoes roast, cook the stuffed shells in a pot of boiling, salted water until just about al-dente.
The shells will continue to cook in the oven, so you want to take them out of the water about 5 minutes be- fore they’re fully cooked. Drain and set aside. Once the potatoes are done roasting, take them out of the oven and mash them with a fork or potato masher. Then, in a large bowl, combine the mashed sweet potatoes, onions, goat cheese, ricotta cheese and salt and pepper. Stir to combine and taste for seasoning.
Spray the inside of a baking dish with cooking spray. Carefully add a spoonful of the sweet potato mixture into the shells and place each shell individually into the baking dish. Once all shells are stuffed, top with parmesan cheese. In a small saucepan, combine 1⁄4 cup vegetable stock and a few tablespoons of water and heat to combine. Once warm, add the vegetable stock and pour around the shells, just enough so they won’t dry out in the oven. Cook for 10 minutes at 325° or until the Parmesan cheese on top begins to melt. Remove from oven and serve immediately.
While you can definitely eat these shells without a sauce, you can always brown two tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan (cooking the butter on low heat until it begins to foam and form brown bits at the bottom) with a bit of crisped, fresh sage.
Yield: 4-6 servings
- 1 Tbps. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- 2 large onions, sliced thin
- sea salt, black pepper to taste
- white sugar (optional)
- 2 Tbsp. (plus more if you’re a vinegar addict like me) balsamic or sherry vinegar
In a large sauté pan over low heat, add the olive oil and and swirl to coat. Once warm, add the onion slices and stir with a wooden spoon. Continue to cook the onions over low-medium heat, watching to make sure they don’t burn. To speed up the process, add a pinch of sugar to the onions. Continue cooking the onions for at least 30 minutes as they will wilt and begin to cook down. If you notice they are beginning to burn or crisp up at the bottom, add a touch of water to deglaze the pan and continue stirring. When they are golden brown in color, add the vinegar and let it reduce, as it will thicken and begin to coat the onions. Serve immediately. The onions can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Yield: 4-6 servings
To read the full “To Caramelized Onions” ode, head on over to Edible Vineyard 🙂