Oh, my! Can’t you just smell the sweet rich aroma of baked onions wafting through your computer screen ? And, look at that ooey-gooey cheese sauce. Onion heaven.
As Julia Child once said, “It is hard to imagine civilization without onions.”
The history of onions is pretty interesting. (OK. To those of you who are rolling your eyes at the thought of history being interesting, stop it! Now!)
Onions are believed to have been cultivated as early as 5000 years ago, probably first in Central Asia, Iran or West Pakistan. Their cultivation spread quickly and they were enjoyed by the Greeks, Egyptians and Romans. Paintings of onions can be found in Egyptian tombs. Believing that the onion, with its perfect circle within a circle symmetry, was the symbol of eternity, Egyptians buried mummies stuffed with onions. Ramses IV (d. 1150 B.C.) was buried with onions in his eye sockets. The Greeks believed that onions could fortify athletes before Olympic events. Athletes drank onion juice and rubbed onion juice over their bodies before competitions. Round onion bulb indentations have been found in the volcanic remains at Pompeii.
By the Middle Ages, onions were among the three main vegetables in the European diet– beans and cabbage being the other two. When the pilgrims arrived in North America with onions in the cargo hold of the Mayflower, they found the Indian diet already included ample quantities of wild onions.
For all of these early onion consumers, onions, of course, had the advantages of being less perishable than other foods and being easy to grow and transport. They could be dried and used later, too. Onions also could be used to slake one’s thirst, not an unimportant quality for times when travelers and traders ventured over long distances in uncertain circumstances. What was not to love?
Today, Americans consume about twenty pounds of onions per person per year. Worldwide, onion consumption is about 13.7 pounds of onions per person. Apparently, the world record for onion consumption goes to Libya where people consume 66.8 pounds of onions per person per year. (Note to self: look up Libyan cooking.)
This recipe for golden baked onions is a keeper. Easy. Impossibly rich tasting. Comfort food writ large.
A link to the original recipe from the site The Splendid Table appears at the bottom of this post.
I’ll end this with an onion joke. Wisely, the jokester remains anonymous.
“If you hear an onion ring, answer it.”
Golden Baked Onions
10 minPrep Time
2 hrCook Time
2 hr, 10 Total Time
- 6 brown onions (peeled and halved)
- 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 C. half and half (or cream)
- 1 T. thyme leaves
- 1 T. Dijon mustard
- 1/2 C. finely grated mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 C. finely grated Gruyere cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Peel onions and slice them in half length wise. Place onions in a baking dish with cut sides facing up and drizzle them with olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake for an hour and a half.
- Remove foil from onions and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until onions begin to brown.
- Mix half and half, thyme, mustard and cheeses in a bowl. Spoon mixture evenly on top of onions. Bake for 15-20 minutes until onions are golden.
- When serving, be sure to spoon some extra cheese gravy onto each onion half.
I found this recipe on the wonderful The Splendid Table site. Here is the link to the original recipe.