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This is one of those recipes that is easy, delicious and can be done without a lot of forethought. I've started keeping cans of chickpeas and tomatoes around just so I can make this dish (and others like homemade falafel) when we run out of groceries and don't want to make another run. Of course that means that we usually make this when we don't have a lot of time. So even though I've made this at least twice, no pictures yet. But take my word for it - it's worth a try.

olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin seeds (or coriander seeds)
½ tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp ground ginger (I usually omit)
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cardamon (or 3 cardamom pods, lightly crushed)
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
1 Tbs cilantro leaves, roughly torn, plus more for garnish
A pinch of cayenne, or to taste
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
6-8 Tbs plain yogurt, optional
A few lemon wedges, optional

Film the bottom of a large saucepan or Dutch oven--preferably not nonstick--with olive oil, and place the pan over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until it is deeply caramelized and even charred in some spots. Be patient. The more color, the more full-flavored the final dish will be.

Reduce the heat to low. Add the garlic, stirring, and add a bit more oil if the pan seems dry. Add the cumin seeds, coriander, ginger, garam masala, and cardamom pods, and fry them, stirring constantly, until fragrant and toasty, about 30 seconds. Add ¼ cup water, and stir to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the water has evaporated away completely. Pour in the juice from can of tomatoes, followed by the tomatoes themselves, using your hands to break them apart as you add them; alternatively, add them whole and crush them in the pot with a potato masher. Add the salt.

Raise the heat to medium, and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, add the cilantro and cayenne, and simmer the sauce gently, stirring occasionally, until it reduces a bit and begins to thicken. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Add the chickpeas, stirring well, and cook over low heat for about five minutes. Add 2 Tbs water, and cook for another five minutes. Add another 2 Tbs water, and cook until the water is absorbed, a few minutes more. This process of adding and cooking off water helps to concentrate the sauce's flavor and makes the chickpeas more tender and toothsome. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Stir in the yogurt, if you like, or garnish with lemon wedges and cilantro. Serve.

Yield: About four servings

Original Recipe

sweet_sour_pork.jpgFollowing the standard crockpot steps of brown meat, chop vegetables, combine ingredients and forget about it, this hearty Asian dish makes an easy, comforting, weeknight meal. The sauce is more tangy than the usual tomato based sweet and sour, add hot pepper flakes or chili sauce for more of a kick. Serve over rice.

2 tablespoons plus 1-1/2 teaspoons paprika
1-1/2 pounds boneless pork loin roast, cut into 1-inch strips
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 can (20 ounces) unsweetened pineapple chunks
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1-3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
Hot cooked rice, optional

Time estimate:Prep: 20 min. Cook: 6-1/2 hours

Place paprika in a large resealable plastic bag. Add pork, a few pieces at a time, and shake to coat. In a nonstick skillet, brown pork in oil in batches over medium-high heat. Transfer to a 3-qt. slow cooker.
Drain pineapple, reserving juice; refrigerate the pineapple. Add the pineapple juice, onion, green pepper, vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and salt to slow cooker; mix well. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until meat is tender.
Combine cornstarch and water until smooth; stir into pork mixture. Add pineapple. Cover and cook 30 minutes longer or until sauce is thickened.
Yield: 6 servings.
split_pea_soup_with_ham.jpgI've never tried split pea soup before on the principle of its color, but it is actually quite delicious. The peas have a sweet flavor and the ham gives the soup a nice heartiness.

1 Tb. butter
1 large onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
6-7 c. chicken broth
~1/4 lb. thick sliced ham
1 lb. green split peas (~2 c.), picked through and rinsed
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
3-4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into pieces
2-3 celery ribs, cut into pieces
Salt & pepper

Melt the butter in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add onion and 1/2 tsp. salt and cook 3-4 minutes until softened. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add broth, ham, peas, and herbs. Increase heat, bring the soup to a boil, then decrease the heat and simmer until peas are tender but not falling apart, about 30 minutes. Stir in carrots and celery and continue to cook until peas have almost completely broken down, about 30 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

From : Cooks Illustrated Jan/Feb 2011
lentils__with_rice_and_onions.jpgThis recipe is a pretty straightforward mix of rice, lentils, and onions spiced with either cumin or garam masala. It makes a delicious and satisfying side, perfect for a vegetarian Indian or middle eastern meal.

3/4 cup long-grain white rice
1 cup brown lentils, rinsed
3 cups yellow onions, cut into quarter slices (or more)
1 tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. ground cumin or garam masala
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Cook rice in water following package directions, or cook in a rice cooker.

Rinse lentils, then place in heavy pot with a tight fitting lid, add 1 quart water, and let lentils simmer over very low heat uncovered until they are soft (about 20-30 minutes, but cooking time will depend on how fresh the lentils are so keep checking until they are soft but still have a slight bite to them.) When lentils are cooked, cover and let water them absorb any leftover water.

While lentils cook, chop onions. Heat olive oil in heavy frying pan, then add onions, reduce heat to medium-low and start to brown onions, stirring every few minutes. Continue to cook onions, stirring often, until they are deeply browned and caramelized, about 20-25 minutes. Don't rush this step; the onions will be bitter if they're cooked at high heat.

When onions are browned, remove half the onions to drain on a paper towel to crisp. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp cumin or garam masala into the rest of the onions in the pan and saute 1-2 minutes.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked lentils to the pan with the onions, leaving behind any water that's not absorbed. Season the cooked lentils and onions with salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook 1-2 minutes to blend flavors.

Gently mix cooked rice into the lentils and caramelized onions, heating for a minute or two if the rice is not hot. Put Mujadarra on a serving dish, top with crispy caramelized onions, and serve hot or warm.

Original recipe

maple-baked-beans.jpgSweet and savory baked beans slow simmered in the crock pot or on the stove. These beans beat Bush's by a mile, and while they do take a lot more time, there isn't much prep involved. Feel free to change up the proportions of the ingredients according to taste, this is a very forgiving recipe.

4.5 cups cooked navy beans (approx. 2-3 small cans)
1 large sweet onion, diced
3-4 tbsp molasses
3 tbsp maple syrup
3-4 tablespoons regular mustard
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
1-2 cans diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 c. dried cranberries (optional but recommended)

Rinse and drain navy beans or soak and cook dry beans according to package directions. Slow-cooker method: Throw drained and rinsed beans into the slow cooker. Chop the onion and place the onion, molasses, maple syrup, mustard, vinegar, salt, tomatoes, and cranberries (optional) into the slow cooker and stir well. (Alternatively you can also cook these on the stove top or baked in the oven). Cook over high heat for about 4-5 hours (however they can be eaten after just a couple hours of cooking), or cook them on the lowest heat setting for 7-8 hours. Serves 3-4.

Original recipe


maple-bakedchicken-sweetpotatoes.jpgDelicious winter comfort food: golden baked chicken with butternut squash and onions, slightly sweetened with maple syrup. Plus it only takes a few minutes prep work, most of the time is hands-off in the oven. So good, I've already made it twice in the past month.

    2-3 chicken breasts, bone-in, skin on
    Olive oil
    1 yellow onion, cut into 1-inch wedges
    1 medium butternut squash or 4 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
    1 tablespoons olive oil
    3 tablespoons maple syrup
    Kosher salt and black pepper
    4-6 sprigs fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Place the chicken skin side down in a hot pan. Once the skin is crisp and brown remove the chicken from the heat.

Arrange the chicken (skin side up), onion, and squash/sweet potatoes in a large baking dish. Drizzle the oil over the chicken and vegetables and season with the salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Drizzle with the maple syrup and top with the sprigs of thyme.

Roast, stirring the vegetables once, until the chicken is cooked through, about 45-60 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving
Original recipe

spinach_tortellini_soup.jpgGwendolyn's was my favorite cafe in Panama City, serving sandwiches, homemade ice cream, and a beloved rotation of homemade soups. They closed a year or so ago and I've moved a couple times, but I still have cravings for their best soup: Spinach Tortellini. This is my attempt at recreating it, done by feel since the owners have yet to release their secret recipes. Tip: cook bone-chicken breasts (using for example this stovetop recipe) the night before making this soup and use the bones to flavor the broth. It really helps intensify the flavor if you don't have time to make homemade stock (I never do).

1 onion, chopped
5 stalks celery, chopped
1 bunch chard or other leafy green, chopped
4-6 c. chicken broth
leftover chicken bones - with some meat attached
1/2 package frozen chopped spinach
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 lb. cheese tortellini
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped fine
1 tbs fresh oregano, chopped fine
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

Heat a little olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, celery, and chard stem pieces. Saute until the onion turns translucent and just begins to brown, then add the chard leaves. Saute until wilted (just a few minutes) and then add the chicken broth, chicken bones, frozen spinach and seasonings. Bring to a boil, then simmer around an hour or so until the broth becomes flavorful from the chicken bones. Remove chicken bones, add tomatoes and tortellini, and bring to a boil. The soup is done when the tortellini is cooked through.

white_chicken_chili.jpgThis southwestern chicken soup is spiced like chili but looks more like tortilla soup. Beans, corn, and the typical soup trio of onion, carrots, and celery round out the vegetables, and cilantro and sour cream help brighten the flavors. The recipe makes a ton, but it freezes well and is great to have on hand for cold lazy evenings.

1.5 lb. chicken breast (boneless, skinless), cubed small
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2 cans shoepeg corn (drained)
1 can Rotel
2 cans navy (or northern) beans (1 can drained, 1 undrained)
2 c. low-sodium V8
4 c. chicken broth
1.5 tsp. chili powder
1.5 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp pepper
Garnish:
fresh cilantro
sour cream
Fresh jalapenos, minced
Saute onion, carrots, celery until onion is lightly browned. Add chicken, cook ~ 3 minutes or until chicken is lightly browned. Add remaining ingredients. Simmer for at least 30 minutes. Freezes well.

From: David Sutton
 
IMG_6349.JPGBeing from the south, I was raised on cornbread dressing, but this Cummings' family tradition is pretty tasty I must admit. Savory additions of corn, mushrooms and sliced black olives are well balanced by the sweet rose wine scented broth. Daniel calls this dressing " one element of the perfect trifecta of Thanksgiving flavors," the other two being turkey and mashed potatoes of course.

1 large onion, chopped small
5 stalks celery, chopped small
8 oz white button mushrooms, roughly chopped
1/2 T. butter

2 c. rose wine
3 c. chicken broth
2 T. butter
1/2 tsp sage

1 package Pepperidge Farm herb dressing (cubed)
1 package Pepperidge Farm herb dressing (crumbs)
1 1/2 cans yellow corn
1 can black olives, sliced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat 1/2 tbs butter in a skillet, add onion, celery, and mushrooms. Lightly salt and pepper the vegetables and saute until onions begin to brown.

Meanwhile, heat broth, wine, 2 tbs butter, and ~1/2 tsp dried sage in medium saucepan until butter is melted.

Mix onion mixture with remaining dry ingredients (stuffing, corn, olives) in large bowl. Add broth/wine over until mixture is moist, mix gently. Pour into 9x13" baking dish. Bake ~1 hour or until top is browned.

eggplant_mushroombake_sm.jpgThis dish was a huge surprise. The ingredients seem simple, but the combination of broiled eggplant, browned mushrooms and onions, simple tomato sauce, and melted cheese is outstanding. It has all the great flavor of really good authentic Italian food, but without swimming in olive oil. As my one-and-only critic said, "I would go to a restaurant just to order this." Definitely one of my favorite dishes of the year. Serve over pasta.

1  peeled eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 1 1/4 pounds)
1  cup  chopped onion
1/2 tbs fresh oregano and 1/2 tsp dried basil or 1 tsp Italian seasoning
2  garlic cloves, chopped
8 oz white mushrooms, sliced
1  (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce, divided
2/3  cup  (about 3 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
1/4  cup  (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
Salt, pepper
Olive oil cooking spray

Pasta, cooked according to directions

Preheat broiler.

Arrange the eggplant slices on a baking sheet coated with olive oil cooking spray, spray the tops as well and sprinkle lightly with coarse ground salt and pepper; broil 3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat; add onion and next 4 ingredients (onion through mushrooms). Salt lightly. Cook until onions are browned, and mushrooms are turning golden, stirring mixture occasionally (about 10 minutes).

Spread half of mushroom mixture in bottom of a 1 1/2-quart round baking dish coated with cooking spray (I used a cake pan). Arrange half of eggplant slices over mushroom mixture; sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Top with 1/2 cup tomato sauce and 1/3 cup mozzarella. Spread remaining mushroom mixture over mozzarella; top with remaining eggplant slices. Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon pepper; top with remaining tomato sauce. Cover and bake at 375° for 40 minutes to 1 hour. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake, uncovered, 5 minutes or until cheese melts. Let stand 10 minutes. Serve over pasta.

yield: 4 servings
Per serving (not including pasta)
Calories:168 (30% from fat)
Fat: 5.6g (sat 3.2g,mono 1.5g,poly 0.5g)
Original recipe

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