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Baked Onion Parmesan

Baked Onions Parmesan-6

We are so busy thinking of onions as a seasoning ingredient and part of the aromatic core vegetable group, that we forget they are a vegetable to be savored and enjoyed like any other. Frequently the muse of divine cooking inspration comes to me when I am at a farmer’s market. Thus was the case when I discovered a small “bio” stand at the market in Prenzlauer Berg a short time ago. The onions looked fresh, crisp and in need of being the star ingredient on the plate.

It’s ok to let an onion be the star.

I brought the onions home and placed them in the vegetable bowl. For a day or so I pondered their fate. What would blend well with the sweetness that comes from a roasted onion and would be one of those dishes that you could easily make on whim or moment’s notice? Mascarpone, Parmesan and freshly ground pepper. All soft ingredients. For texture I settled on some bread crumbs. I would have liked Panko bread crumbs, but the selection is limited in our local grocery store, so I went with what I could find.

The flavor strength is what matters.

Green, Spring, Scallion? Onions are one of the most versatile seasonings and one of the most oft used by home cooks and chefs alike. They come in a wide variety of oniony flavors from tangy-sweet to sharply-tear inducing. Scallions can add a touch of flavor and spring onions a more mature onion-y burst (there is a difference). A spring onion has a larger bulb at the base and scallions tend to be smaller and the base more in line with the size of the green shoot. Ahh, green onions, just another name for scallions!

Red, white, yellow, sweet? Yes, they all taste a bit different. Serious Eats ” A Beginners Guide to Onions” has the best descriptions that I could find. It is a great reference link to bookmark. Depending on whether the onion is being used as a main ingredient, star ingredient or a seasoning ingredient, the type of onion chosen can have a profound affect on the outcome of the dish.

Simple to Sauté.

Onions can be sautéed, seared, roasted and grilled. Cooking them to using them raw changes, enhances, and brings about subtle to strong nuances in the dish being made. Thinly sliced fresh red onions, sprinkled with sea salt on a slather of sweet-cream butter all contained on freshly baked pumpernickel, they are sharp to the butter’s natural sweetness. Slivered into a bacon-dressing salad puts onions into their most simple realm and the bacon fat tames their power. Quarter and coat with a peppery-olive oil and roast on a skewer, they take on a totally different flavor dimension. Combine with celery and carrots for the classic French base of aromatics, generally sautéed for a sauce’s base, they are yet another tone on the flavor palette (palatable pun intended).

Seasonal?

This word casts a wide net. Seasonal is dictated by regional seasons. Live in California? The range of seasonal can mean one thing at the southern tip of the state and yet another at the northern end. When talking seasonal, and you want to be true to local seasonality, check what is in for your area and region. We live primarily in Maine, when we say that Peas come into season in the Spring, we mean June. They are available in March/April in the mid-Atlantic. We are on yet another learning curve with what is available in Berlin (Asparagus is on its way…). Onions seem to be available the year round in many places. Hoop houses, indoor growing, and they store really well.

Classic French Onion Soup – here are a few variations on the theme to try:

Tyler Florence for the Food Network offers his rendition of French Onion Soup.
The Pioneer Woman has a slightly different take on tradition.
Chef John of YouTube fame, has what he calls an American version of French Onion Soup. Maybe we will call it un-French. There are several general cooking techniques taught, and he has a cute sense of humor. Something we love in a chef.

Baked Onion Parmesan

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 Cooking Time: 30-40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 12oz/750g red, white, or yellow onions small to medium cut into quarters (or halved depending on size)
  • 2oz/60g fine or panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 TBSP EVOO
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 8oz/250g mascarpone
  • 3 TBSP grated Parmasan

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C.

2

Peel onions and cut into halves or quarters, depending on size (to cook evenly they should all be of similar size).

3

Place cut side up on a baking sheet big enough to hold them in a single layer.

4

Drizzle with EVOO.

5

Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

6

Bake for 20 minutes.

7

Remove pan from oven.

8

Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the onions and return to oven.

9

Continue baking for 5-10 minutes until the breadcrumbs start to turn golden brown.

10

When onions are finished, place them on a single serving dish or serve as individual portions.

11

Place a dollop of mascarpone on each serving. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan.

12

Add a sprinkle of freshly ground pepper and serve!

Notes

Makes a perfect side dish to chicken, fish or meat, or can be part of a main course for a vegetarian meal. That's what we did and served a salad on the side.

Onions can be sautéed, seared, roasted and grilled.We often forget they are a vegetable to be savored and enjoyed like any other. Onions, it is your time to shine. Click To Tweet

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