If you want to add sweetness to a dish: sugar. If you want to add a little savory: butter. If you want both: caramelized onions. • Caramelizing onions takes a some sweat and a lot of patience. Making them in big batches helps for future recipes and can shave off an hour of cooking time. I recommend taking an afternoon and caramelizing as many onions as your nose (and family) can stand. Once these yummy thin ribbons cool to room temperature, throw them in airtight bags in half-cup quantities and store in your freezer. That way you can defrost and throw them on salads, pizzas, sandwiches, burgers and use them in the recipes below.
Quesadillas are quick and customizable. This is my go-to cheesy pocket. Heat your griddle skillet on medium-high heat and spray with a little nonstick spray. Place a tortilla on the skillet and sprinkle with 1 cup cheddar cheese. Then, layer ½ cup black beans, ¼ cup of your favorite chunky salsa and ¼ cup caramelized onions. Let the quesadilla cook open for a few minutes, then fold it in half to close; cook for a minute on that side, then flip to the other side and let it cook for another minute or until desired doneness. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, guacamole and salsa.
Sandwiches make great lunches, but this one is fancy — and filling — enough for dinner. Start with ½ cup cherry tomatoes and place them on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Stick them under your broiler for a few minutes until they start to wilt and split slightly. Leave the broiler on for later. Cut a loaf of ciabatta bread in half to make 2 sandwiches, then slice open. Brush the slices with 1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin oil and lightly toast in the broiler or toaster. Now it's time to assemble: Layer with ½ cup reserved caramelized onions, ½ cup arugula, prosciutto strips and Brie wedges. Then stick the sammies back under the broiler just for a few minutes, until the Brie starts to gloriously melt. Don't forget about those tomatoes. Place them on top and serve. Recipe from bevcooks.com.
Bacon and caramelized onions: a tasty romance in your mouth. This tart makes a perfect appetizer for any dinner party. First, cook 6 ounces of bacon in a skillet on medium-high heat until crisp, about 12 minutes. Remove bacon and pour its fat into a 9-by-11 baking dish and set aside. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk 1 ½ cups flour, 2 teaspoons dried mustard, 1 ¼ cups milk and 3 eggs. Let the batter rest for 10 minutes. Place the baking dish with bacon fat in the oven and heat for 10 minutes. Remove the dish, pour in batter and sprinkle with bacon and 1 cup reserved caramelized onions. Return dish to oven and bake until puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Recipe from saveur.com.
This dish serves up autumn in a pan. The tang of crispy but tender Brussels sprouts pairs perfectly with the sweet onions and cranberries. Cut 4 slices of bacon into ½-inch pieces and fry on medium heat in a skillet until bacon is crisp, about 7 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside. Trim and chop 2 cups Brussels sprouts in half. Increase skillet heat to medium-high and arrange sprouts cut-side down, until they begin to crisp and brown on the cut side, about 2 minutes. Add ½ cup reserved caramelized onions and stir to combine. Add 1 cup chicken broth, ¼ cup dry vermouth and ½ cup coarsely chopped dried cranberries; stir and bring to a fast simmer. Cover, reduce heat to medium and cook until the sprouts soften, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook 6 ounces of fettuccine until just al dente, reserving ¼ cup of the cooking water. Transfer pasta to the skillet containing the Brussels sprouts and toss continuously over medium-high heat for an additional 1 or 2 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed. (If pasta is too dry, add reserved cooking water a tablespoon at a time.) Season with salt and pepper and serve garnished with Parmesan cheese and that delicious bacon. Serves 2 to 4. Recipe from saveur.com.
This dip is a huge hit among my friends, and I always double or even triple the recipe. Caramelizing the onions as you make this recipe is best because all the ingredients get mixed in the same pan, so you get every bit of flavor. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add 3 cups chopped yellow onions and 4 minced garlic cloves to pan and saute 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook 40 minutes or until very tender and caramelized, stirring occasionally. Add ½ cup (4 ounces) block-style cream cheese to pan and stir to combine. Remove from heat; stir in ½ cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives, ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Serve at room temperature or chilled with salty chips or crostini. Recipe from Cooking Light's "The New Way to Cook Light" by Scott Mowbray and Amy Taylor Pittman (Oxmoor House, 2012).