Onions

Sunday, December 2, 2012




“Onion,
luminous flask,
your beauty formed
petal by petal,
crystal scales expanded you
and in the secrecy of the dark earth
your belly grew round with dew.”

-       from “Ode to the Onion” by Pablo Neruda, translated by Stephen Mitchell

One of the reasons I love Pablo Neruda is because he writes so beautifully about the most common items.  His ode to onions is one of his best, praising the simple vegetable that is both accessible to the poor and essential to the finest meals.

Onions might be the ingredient I use most often in my cooking.  They are humble, indispensable and delicious.  And I can’t think of a worthier subject for a poem.

“Star of the poor,
fairy godmother
wrapped
in delicate
paper, you rise from the ground
eternal, whole, pure
like an astral seed,
and when the kitchen knife
cuts you, there arises
the only tear
without sorrow.” 

Balsamic Onions and Blue Cheese Salad

3 small red onions
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp good balsamic vinegar
1 cup good olive oil
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
6 Tbsp minced shallots (2 large)
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup good red wine vinegar
3/4 to 1 pound crumbly blue cheese
2 heads red-leaf lettuce, washed, spun dry, and torn

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the onions in half and slice 1/4 inch thick.  Place on a baking sheet and toss with 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the onions are tender.  Remove from the oven, toss with 2 more tablespoons balsamic vinegar, and let cool to room temperature.

To make the dressing, whisk the shallots, mustard, red wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper in a small bowl.  While whisking, add 3/4 cup olive oil until the dressing is emulsified. Mash 1/4 pound blue cheese with a fork and add it to the dressing.

To assemble, toss enough lettuce for 6 people with dressing to taste.  Place the lettuce on 6 plates and arrange the onions on top.  Coarsely crumble the rest of the blue cheese on top.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.

35 comments:

Valerie said...

I ♥ Pablo Neruda too! (Both poems are perfect for this delicious dish!) Onions + blue cheese- Be still my heart! :D

grace said...

i'd rather chew on a shoe than eat a raw onion, but when they're caramelized, i can't get enough!

Kitchen Riffs said...

I haven't read Neruda in years! And you're right that he makes the simple sublime. Really nice recipe — quite simple, but the flavor looks terrific. Something I should try — it's the sort of dish I really like to make. Thank you.

Food Gal said...

Now, that's a salad with an explosion of flavors. Gotta love the blue cheese in it, too. Makes any salad a whole lot more decadent.

Medeia Sharif said...

I'm not too fond of onions, but I'm more likely to eat them with balsamic vinegar. I also prefer them diced.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I prefer my onions caramelized. :D

My husband used to store the cut raw onion with the cheese. I kicked him of that habit. The cheese always tasted of raw onions. Yuck!

Claire Davis said...

I love onions too, I can always tell when they are missing in a salad or soup! Love the poems :)

artofnaturalliving.com said...

This is just the type of salad I love. I have never had caramelized onions on a salad and I believe I need to remedy that!

Belinda said...

Naruda has a way with words...and you have a way with food!

bakewithjill.com said...

Oh my, that sounds delicious! I don't always put a lot of effort into salads, but it's worth it to spend the extra time.

Katerina said...

I love onion too and it never misses from my cooking. This is a beautiful salad Beth and balsamico gives a special kick to it!

Barbara said...

Love the idea of this salad, Beth. The flavor combo is wonderful!

Joanne said...

i rarely cook a meal that doesn't include onions in it, so I'm totally feeling this poem! And your delicious salad.

Rita Huneault said...

Love the"Ode to the Onion”. No kitchen is complete without the noble onion; your salad is very temtping.
Rita

The Café Sucré Farine said...

So funny to think such eloquent words could be written about onions, and yet so true! Love your salad - it looks delicious!

Kathy said...

Beth, Everything tastes better because of onions! Love your salad …delicious looking!

Julie said...

What an interesting and beautiful salad!

Carol said...

The salad looks so good! I love onions. And I enjoyed the poetry :)

Stephen Tremp said...

My wife loves anything with balsamic vinegar. Me, not so much. I'll usually take the dish dry. But now I have a new recipe to surprise her. Thanks!

Angie's Recipes said...

I adore ONIONS! The salad with blue cheese looks splendid!

Guru Uru said...

definitely one of the best vegetables ever :D

Cheers
Choc Chip Uru

yummychunklet said...

As long as the onions are caramelized or fried, they're delicious!

Amy said...

I adore onions - thanks for introducing me to these lovely onion poems! How wonderful!

Rosemary said...

The only time I don't like onions is when I turn to Mr. Rosemary for a kiss and he says, "What have you been eating?!?" Except for that, a near perfect, an essential, food. Every day.

Andrea_TheKitchenLioness said...

Beth, I love Pablo Neruda´s poems and I cited his Ode to Lemons in one of my blog posts - wonderful writer/poet! What a lovely recipe, seems perfect for this time of year and different than your usual salad - would make a nice entrée for the Christmas season.

Victoria said...

I love onions in all their glory. I actually wrote a love poem for French onion soup when I was in high school, haha. I don't think I have it any more, but I can definitely appreciate poetry about food. Onions rock!

Monet said...

Ah, I love Neruda's poems. What a pleasure to come upon this morning! I'm glad to be back visiting your blog! I have had to check out of the internet world for the past month or so, and it feels good to be back. I hope you have a beautiful day!

Jemi Fraser said...

I'm not sure I would have ever considered writing a poem about an onion! Very cool :)

Pierce said...

Well I believe I need to steal this recipe! Looks delicious.

Patty said...

I admit to being an onion lover and I'm always surprised when I hear that someone else is not, isn't that odd? I'll add extra onion to my salad tonight in your honor ;-)

Cindy said...

We are onion lovers--this looks awesome!

nancy at good food matters said...

I love Neruda's food-based poetry---also his ode to fried potatoes--"the world's joy is spluttering, sizzling in olive oil.."
thank you for the reminder!

Carla Sandrin said...

Lovely poems, Beth! Do you have any other recipes using lots of onions? I just bought a huge bag at costco because I needed one onion for dinner and now I have a about 30 very large white onions left!

amy (fearless homemaker) said...

Agree - onions might be one of the foods i use the most in cooking. And I love them with balsamic, so this looks wonderful to me!

Jenn Kendall said...

as an onion lover, i'm totally loving both the poem and the salad!

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