Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Caramelized Onion Dinner

This past Sunday was all crazy. I was planning on dinner at my house, then stuff happened and we switched it to Chase’s apartment, then to my mom’s, then more stuff happened and my house was okay again, but I decided to haul everything to my mom’s anyway. The food was so great and I’m sorry I didn’t get to photograph as I had planned. I took some pictures as I prepped, but then I forgot to take my camera to my mom’s house. I borrowed hers, but neither of us really knew how to use it.

So how did the Caramelized Onion Dinner come about? Chase told me last week that he and his gf LOVE caramelized onions. So I decided to give them plenty of love.

First I had to prep LOTS of onions. I sliced 4 pounds of Texas sweet yellow onions. They filled my dutch oven.

I cooked them down until they were almost ready. The key to super creamy caramelized onions is to cook them ever so S-L-O-W-L-Y. You don’t want any crispy burnt pieces. I like to add a little white wine or balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt the last few minutes. I finally ended up with this, the perfect amount for my pasta.

Main course:

Tri-color Farfalle with Caramelized Onions, Zucchini, and Peppers

Now I too love caramelized onions! I can hardly express my excitement over this discovery. I don’t eat a lot of pasta so perhaps you already know about this, but for me, this is a true revelation. Caramelized onions are the answer to low fat creamy pasta sauce! Aside from their amazingly creamy texture, they taste fabulous. If you are watching your calories, skip the cashew cream; if you stay away from starch, skip the potatoes; if you are unable to eat soy, skip the silken tofu. Try this instead. Trust me, it’s awesome!

Adapted from Cooking Light


1 T. olive oil
3 cups zucchini, cut into half moons (original recipe called for mushrooms)
2 cups red bell pepper cut into strips (I used a mix of jarred roasted peppers and rehydrated sundried peppers)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-1/2 cups caramelized onions
1 cup vegetable broth
½ t. salt
½ t. pepper
¼ t. crushed red pepper flakes
½ cup tofutti sour supreme
1 T. chopped fresh oregano
8 cups cooked farfalle


Heat oil in a large skillet. Add zucchini and cook just until softened, about 2 minutes. Add peppers and cook another few minutes. Add garlic, onions, broth, and seasonings. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat. Stir in sour cream and oregano.

Serve over pasta.

I mixed the sauce and pasta before I packed it up, but it would look tons better with sauce spooned over the pasta. I apologize for the poor quality plating and picture because it doesn’t do it justice. It was truly extraordinary. None of the diners could believe the sauce was merely onions and sour cream.

On to the sides – more onion love:

Broccoli with Caramelized Onions and Toasted Pine Nuts


4 cups chopped broccoli, steamed
¼ cup caramelized onions (from about 1 medium)
3 T. toasted pine nuts
2 t. EVOO
2 t. balsamic vinegar
S&P to taste


Mix the broccoli, onions, and pine nuts in a large bowl. Mix the oil and vinegar and pour over broccoli. Season with salt and pepper.

Spinach Salad with Caramelized Onions and Bac’n Bits

Caramelized Onion Bread

This is such a cool recipe and a fabulous bread! And I didn’t even cheat and use my bread maker to make the dough. The flavor is not toooo onion-y. I mean, I would totally spread peanut butter and jelly on it and eat it. If you warm it before serving, you will get a little better onion flavor.

Adapted from Baking Bites


2 cups thinly sliced sweet yellow onions
1 T. vegetable or canola oil
1 T. active dry yeast
1 T. granulated sugar
1-1/2 cups warm water (100 – 110F)
4-5 cups bread flour
1 T. salt
¼ t. ground black pepper


Cook onions in oil over medium heat until light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

In your stand mixing bowl, combine yeast, sugar, and ¼ cup water. Stir to dissolve and let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. Pour in remaining water and 3 cups flour and mix well. Switch to dough hook attachment. Add onions, salt, pepper, and another cup of flour. Add additional flour as necessary until dough comes together. Turn out onto floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 4 minutes. Shape into ball and place into lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about an hour.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Lightly oil a 10-inch tube pan. Place dough on floured surface and gently deflate. Make a hole in the center, then place it in the tube pan. Cover and let rise again until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until internal temperature is 200F and loaf is dark golden. Turn loaf onto a cooling rack. Cool completely before slicing.

I was so pleased with how it turned out I put a slice on pretty plate for a picture.

No onions in dessert J (But you know, I wouldn’t totally rule those sweet onions out!) I didn’t have enough time to make cookies or anything fancy, so I took a shortcut and made up Cherry Pie Crisp.

This is a Wholesome Pie Crust filled with a can of cherry pie filling, which is surprisingly yummy, and topped with Dreena’s crisp topping from TEV Apple Cherry Crisp. Shortcut cherry pie is fabulous with homemade vanilla ice cream leftover from the Daring Bakers Challenge.

Besides taking Sunday dinner to my mom’s, I took groceries and the two dinners from the last post for Chase. I took a picture of my trunk before I headed out.

(Still can’t figure out how my camera didn’t make it in the car after taking that shot.)

I just had to test another version of creamy caramelized onions last night. Since I’m soy intolerant, I looked around my kitchen for something other than Tofutti sour cream. I found….. pumpkin puree! Hooray, it works too! I added sautéed mushrooms to it and it was so delicious. It’s not at all pretty, but I took a picture. It definitely would be pretty on some pasta or mixed with some greens.

I can’t wait to make creamed peas, creamed spinach, cream of caramelized onion soup, so many possibilities…

Loving onions is a good thing. Onions rank high on the healthy foods list, especially the sweet yellow and red varieties. In fact, you should eat them every day. But if you can’t, just it a whole lot of them in one day!

In loving memory of my sweet wonderful Dad. I miss you so so much.
July 24, 1938 – March 4, 2008

A million times we have needed you, A million times we have cried;
If love alone could have saved you, You never would have died;
In life we loved you dearly, In death we love you still;
In our hearts you hold a place, No one else could ever fill;
It broke our hearts to lose you,
But you did not go alone,
For part of us went with you,
The day God called you home.


VeggieGirl said...

Incredible food!!

Your father will watch over you forever - I'm keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

Pomegranate said...

I LOVE caramelized onions- so this post is my dream! thanks!

Chris @ Beyond Ramen said...

All my condolences for the loss of your father. Stay strong - I'm sure he would have wanted you to grieve, but eventually move on. And thanks also for sharing something that personal with us; it takes a lot of courage in my opinion, but will help heal in the long run.

Thanks for sharing your recipes. Those caramelized onions look so creamy, like nothing I've ever seen before!

Ricki said...

Oh, Diann, I'm so sorry to hear about your father! He looks like a sweet and happy man in the photo. I'm sending sympathy and virtual hugs your way.

Anonymous said...

Reading that passage after the picture of your father made me cry... What a lovely thing to say in his memory.

I've never commented here before, but as always, your food looks lovely!

Not Another Omnivore said...

I hope today is well for you on this trying anniversary :)


Sarah said...

What a beautiful poem, it truly is moving. My condolences for your loss and hope that every day becomes easier to see the joy in his life and no longer the grief.

I starred the entry the minute I saw farfalle recipe. Absolutely amazing, I will have to make this soon, like real soon!


Wow...I'm very sorry to hear that your dad passed last year. That passage was very moving. You see, I lost my brother to cancer almost 5 years ago, on March 14, 2004. And it honestly feels like I just lost him today.
Thank you so much for sharing and for always including us on your Sunday dinners.

jodye said...

Caramelized onions are my absolute favorite- this is the best post ever! I especially love the caramelized onion bread! Everything looks so delicious!

shellyfish said...

Oh Diann, sweetheart I'm so sorry. Such a difficult anniversary, and I could feel your mourning in your post. Sending you so much love.

Tami (Vegan Appetite) said...

I'm sorry about your dad, and these anniversaries are so hard.

On a lighter note, all those caramelized onions look wonderful. The bread even looks so light!

Catherine said...

Your food looks amazing, as always -- especially that bread!

jessy said...

such lovely words about your father - you're in my thoughts, Diann.

yum, yum, YUM on all the caramelized oniony goodness! mmmmmmmm! aren't they awesome! caramelized onions do take a bit, but they're so worth the wait! they look most delicious on the pasta and the bowl of broccoli (my favorite!)! the bread looks absolutely amazing, too! i love it all! hooray for oniony goodness! superw00t!

Jes said...

All those caramelized onions are making me hungry! Especially for the bread--I'm totally making it this week or next!

((hugs)) about the anniversary of your father passing. You guys are in my thoughts!

Virginia said...

sorry to hear about your father. he looks like such a nice and warm man.

i LOVE caramelized onions and that pasta dish looks SOOOOOOOOOOO good!

Mihl said...

You already had me at the title of this post. Who knew that there were so many more fantastic foods to come?

P.S. That is a great picture of your father.

Alisa - Frugal Foodie said...

What an amazing post! I can't wait to try these recipes.

allularpunk said...

so sorry to hear of this sad anniversary... you're in my thoughts :)

your caramelized onion feast has me wondering why i've never made them before myself... i love onions! i really will have to try out some of these recipes and get in on the onion love.

jd said...

I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your dad. I'm thinking of you and your family and wishing you all the best right now.

Melody Polakow said...

*HUGS*.. It's been a year already since you lost your dad... wow...
He radiates goodness in that picture.. he looks like such a kind soul.

Your food looks and sounds amazing too.. I am literally wishing I could taste that pasta sauce right now.. it looks sooo delicious..

Hannah said...

I just love the flavor of caramelized onions- It's my favorite way to prepare them for just about anything!

Adriana said...

What a lovely passage. My sincerest condolences. He's a handsome gentleman.

Lisa (Show Me Vegan) said...

that's such a nice photo of your Dad! He looks happy. So sorry for your loss.

Usha said...

I am so sorry to hear about your father, you are in my thoughts !

Anonymous said...

Ive never posted on here before but have always followed your blog. I just want to express how sad I am to hear about your father. Having lost my two best friends to cancer (If you can believe it, Im only 27) in the past year, I know how hard the struggle is. I always find solace in a passage my mother gave me: "There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in my heart". -Ghandi

Peace to you and your family.

Andrea said...

My heart goes out to you on this sad anniversary. Thinking of you - Andrea

River said...

Diann, this has to be THE best pasta ever! Wow, it really is the most delicious looking pasta I have ever seen. And the bread! You are killing me!

What a lovely tribute to your dad. I can see so much of your dad in you. You have the same kindness in your eyes as he did.

Vegetation said...

Thinking of you Diann. And a beautiful tribute to your Dad.

I love all the oniony goodness you've posted! A super special yum to that pasta and onion bread!

Sanja said...

That onion bread looks amazing; that texture!

Diann, I am so sorry for the loss of your dad. I am wishing you and your family all the best.

HayMarket8 said...

Ii want your pie right now! That looks great!

Kris said...

I'm sorry about your dad, Diann. It's going to the two year anniversary of my dad's death next month, so I completely understand.

Your meals look fabulous and you have completely inspired me to step up to the plate and buy a bag of big onions rather than looking for the little guys and caramelizing those puppies!

Erin said...

Hooray for caramelized onions! Aren't they the best? They make everything taste so much better. I just with they didn't take so darned long to cook down.

The pasta looks so creamy and delicious, that's a great idea for a sauce. And pumpkin with caramelized onion sounds fantastic!

Max mickle said...

Hey those Cherry Pie Crisp look yummi,I love eating breakfast and always try new fast food recipes. I would love to try the Cherry Pie Crisp for breakfast. that looks tasty. its also a snacks food option and can make a satisfying breakfast. The Photos are amazing... I am already feeling hungry.

Cherry Pie Crisp

Max mickle said...

Hey those Cherry Pie Crisp look yummi,I love eating breakfast and always try new fast food recipes. I would love to try the Cherry Pie Crisp for breakfast. that looks tasty. its also a snacks food option and can make a satisfying breakfast. The Photos are amazing... I am already feeling hungry.

Cherry Pie Crisp

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Anonymous said...

Yum! I'm not vegan or even vegetarian but I love carmelized onions. Came accross this post when I googled 'recipes with carmelized onions,' and that pasta looks fantastic. Now I have some ideas for dinner.