Butter Roasted Vidalia Onions – Rich, Sweet, Savory, Mild, Complex, Silken & Fragrant All At the Same Time
Until last Friday, I’d never tasted a Vidalia onion, or even a “sweet” onion. I had heard and thought that sweet onions (including Walla Walla, Maui and Vidalia) were for eating raw rather than for cooking. Not being a fan of raw onions, there was never a reason to buy a sweet onion. All this changed last Friday when I tasted a bit of a vegan cracker featuring Vidalia onions. Although the crackers were not completely dehydrated, the taste of sweet, almost caramelized onions came through. Curious to know and taste more, the next day I bought a bag of Vidalias to cook at home. I was drawn to a recipe featuring both natural wild rice (which we had) and Vidalias. Oh my what a revelation. The Butter Roasted Vidalia Onions smelled wonderful, had a silken texture and tasted rich, sweet, savory, mild and complex all at the same time. Totally, amazingly delicious.
A Buddha bowl for spring
Butter Roasted Vidalia Onions star in this Buddha bowl. They top a base of wild rice along with spears of spring asparagus and garden radishes. The special sauce marrying all the flavors is my Mustard Balsamic Vinaigrette enhanced with lemon zest and juice and lots of garden herbs, including chives, mint and parsley.
A spring onion to enjoy now
Vidalia onions are truly spring onions. Planted in the fall, they mature during the short days of winter, to be hand harvested from April to mid-June. They tend to disappear from stores shortly after that. Though when stored under specially controlled conditions, Vidalias have extended availability in some parts of the country through August.
So what’s a Vidalia Onion
As of 1990, Vidalia onions became the official state vegetable of Georgia. They have a round, flat bottom with easy-to-peel, pale copper-gold, thin parchment-like skin on the outside. And juicy, semi-translucent milky white flesh on the inside.
Regulations require these super-sweet onions be grown in a twenty-county area in and around Vidalia, Georgia. The delicate sweetness and mild flavor of Vidalia onions comes from the region’s warm climate with mild and rainy winters, sandy and low sulfur soil and exclusive seed varieties.
No tears here
It’s the low-sulfur soil in which Vidalia onions are grown that keeps them from developing the sharp, pungent taste we usually associate with onions. It’s also the sulfur that makes you cry when you slice an onion. With fewer sulfur compounds in Vidalias, there are few if any tears when you slice, cut or chop them.
Join me in the upcoming Fresh Flavors of Early Summer Class
June 24th, in Bozeman, Montana from 10:30-2:00
Class includes lunch and all recipes
Register today as space is limited.
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Butter Roasted Vidalia Onions with Thyme and Nutmeg
Rich, savory, sweet, mild, complex, silken and fragrant all at the same time.
You’ll find many uses for Butter Roasted Vidalia Onions. Enjoy them as a topping for a Buddha bowl or a pizza, as a side dish, layered in a wrap or a sandwich, as the basis of a dip, served warm on a bed of spring greens, or added to a stir fry. With thin, parchment-like skin, you’ll find Vidalia onions are easy to peel and easily sliced without tears. Inspired by and lightly adapted from Amy Thielen’s recipe in Saveur.
Makes 12+ slices Printer-Friendly Recipe
Total time about 40 minutes
1 pound trimmed and peeled Vidalia onions
1 ½ ounces (3 tablespoons) butter
¼ teaspoon sea salt
Couple of twists freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
1/16th teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Cut the onions into ½-inch thick slices.
- Heat a 12-inch flat-bottomed ovenproof sauté pan over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of the butter. When melted, place a layer of sliced onions in the pan. Season them with the salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook the sliced onions until their bottoms become quite dark in spots, 9-10 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Using two spatulas carefully turn each slice over. Dot with the remaining tablespoon of butter.
- Place the pan in the oven. Roast the onions 15 minutes until tender.
- Remove the pan from the oven. Sprinkle the onions with the minced fresh thyme and the nutmeg. Return to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes.