Has your garden ever produced whoppers like these? See the quarter next to them for scale! I decided to try Walla Walla onions this year because locals told me they grow well here in our hot, dry climate. I was hoping for some large onions to make onion rings, but I never thought I’d get these gigantic beauties! Now what to do with them all? I can eat a lot of onion rings but not that many!
By the way, if you didn’t already know, Walla Walla onions are named for Walla Walla County, Washington, where they were first grown. The story goes that their development began around 1900 when Peter Pieri, a French soldier who settled in the area, brought with him a sweet onion seed from the island of Corsica. (Wikipedia)
This is my favorite Thanksgiving side dish. I got the recipe from my friend Lynne D. It tastes great on roast turkey. It’s also extremely good on pizza with fresh basil and goat cheese, too. Use lots! As a matter of fact, I think I’ll do it tonight.
Peel and slice sweet onions (rings, slices, quarters; whatever shape strikes your fancy. Bigger is better in my book.) Heat a bit of olive oil in a large frying pan. I use Lucero extra virgin because I’m lucky to have their orchard and plant just down the road. Add onions, sprinkle with a touch of salt, reduce heat to medium low or low and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are extremely tender and caramelized, about 30 minutes or more. Keep the heat low enough so the onions are cooking but not browning. Finish with touch of balsamic vinegar, if you like.
Freeze and store for later
(I’m going to be doing a lot of this since we were recently gifted with a small chest freezer.)
Chop your onions and place them in a flat layer on a cookie sheet and freeze. After they are frozen, remove the onions from the sheet and store them in bags or storage containers in the freezer.
Pickled Onions (my French Canadian dad made lots of impromptu pickles)
This recipe yields about 2 cups.
5 ounces sliced onions
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup rice, white wine or apple cider vinegar
1 cup warm water
Optional flavorings: a small clove of garlic halved, black peppercorns, allspice berries, small springs of thyme, a small dried chili
Peel and thinly slice the onion. If you use garlic, peel and cut the clove in half. Put all the ingredients except the onions in a mason jar. Blanch the onions by placing them in a sieve and pour boiling water slowly over the onions. Let them drain. Add the onions to the jar and stir gently to evenly distribute everything. The onions will be ready in about 30 minutes but are better after a few hours. Store leftovers in the refrigerator. Pickled onions are good on everything!
French Onion Soup (my dad loved this recipe)
Yields about 4 small or 2 big servings.
3 cups of beef broth (Make your own. It will be better.)
2 large sweet onions, sliced 1/4-inch thick (or one gigantic Walla Walla)
2 tablespoons butter
2 pressed garlic cloves
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
4 slices toasted French bread
Place onion and butter in a large saucepan. Sauté them really slowly over medium heat until onions are tender. Cooking onions really slow is like roasting them in the oven. It brings out their amazing sweet flavor. Add garlic and sauté 1 to 2 minutes. Add beef broth and Worchestershire sauce. Bring to a boil for 1 minute. Fill bowl with soup leaving room. Place toasted French bread on top. Sprinkle cheese on top of that. Place under broiler until cheese is bubbly.
(Because I’m of French derivation. Call it Quiche aux Oignons, mesdames et monseiurs! The recipe I use is from Julia Child’s original Mastering the Art of French Cooking that I got when I was 18. Now I’m 63).
7 cups minced onion (perfect when you have a monster onion to deal with. One or two will do.)
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon oil
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
Cook the onion in a heavy skillet with the oil and butter over very low heat, stirring occasionally until they are extremely tender and golden yellow. It will take about an hour. Sprinkle with flour and cook a couple more minutes.
2/3 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
Beat the eggs, cream and seasonings in a bowl until blended. Mix in the onions and cheese. Pour into a partially cooked 8-inch pie crust and dot butter over the top. Bake in the upper third of a preheated oven 375 F until quiche has puffed and browned. Bon appétit!
Sweet Onion Sandwiches
(My dad always used bread from the little bakery down the street. It was just like homemade. Now I like GRIT magazine’s No Knead Artisan Bread.)
Take two slices of homemade bread. Spread them with homemade mayonnaise or butter. Place a slice of sweet onion on one slice of bread and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. As an option add a big slice of fresh garden tomato. Then place your other slice of bread and eat!
Onion Rings (this is my favorite of favorites)
Peel and cut onions into thick slices and separate into rings. Dip in buttermilk and dredge in flour seasoned with salt, pepper and a bit of cayenne. Heat at least 2 inches of vegetable oil in a large, heavy pot until oil is about 350 F. You can get peanut oil really hot without it smoking. Fry onions rings until golden brown, drain, and season with more salt.