When I was a personal chef, I cooked for people with all sorts of dietary restrictions. There was the no gluten family, the vegetarian South Beach dieters and even the bodybuilder who was after as much protein as I could deliver. I was happy to whip up all sorts of healthy and creative dishes to meet their needs. I substituted when I could, or just came up with tasty alternatives. You don’t eat wheat? How about my killer rice flour brownies? Skipping carbs? Pureed cauliflower it is. Need more protein? Frittata for you.
I loved the challenge and thought I could handle it all. That is, until I met one prospective family who had a restriction I just couldn’t meet: no onions! I told them I just wouldn’t be able to make good-tasting food without onions. I mean, come on people, there is a reason most diets around the world base their savory dishes on onions. In Italy they are an integral part of the odori (the mixture of vegetables and herbs that are sauteed in the beginning of most sauces and soups.) In France they are the base of mirepoix. In Mexican and Indian cooking, they certainly would be missed. And so on. At their simplest, sliced raw they add a firey element to salads and sandwiches. But cooking them slowly and caramelizing their natural sugars turns them into a thing of beauty.
Now that they’re in season, I like to celebrate them as the star of the show. I brought these balsamic caramelized onions to a friend’s house as an appetizer to go with goat cheese. The hosts were making flatbread pizza in their outdoor pizza oven (so jealous.) They scattered some of the onions on one of them. Yum! They are also perfect for tossing with pasta or mixing with cubes of roasted butternut squash. The possibilities are endless.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 cups sliced onions
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dry thyme
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- Add oil, onion, salt and thyme to a large sauce pan and place over medium heat. Stir to coat, cover and cook, stirring about every two minutes until the onions are softened and stick to the bottom of the pan slightly, 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking, covered, but stirring often until the onions are cooked down and starting to brown, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Remove lid and stir in balsamic vinegar. Cook, stirring often until the vinegar has evaporated, the mixture is thick and the onions are browned, 6 to 8 minutes more.
0 mg cholesterol, no added sugar
- Calories: 110
- Sugar: 8.2 g
- Sodium: 200 mg
- Fat: 4.8 g
- Saturated Fat: 0.5 g
- Carbohydrates: 16 g
- Fiber: 2 g
- Protein: 2 g