Walla Walla!

When my friend Poonam offered to cook an Indian feast for us, we went to the greenhouse to look for ingredients. In addition to cabbage and potatoes that made a lovely side dish, and cilantro that garnished everything, she wanted to bring home beets and sweet onions for a side salad.

Fortunately, the sweet Walla Walla onions had started to thicken and round, and I harvested a few. The refreshing salad was from an Israeli relative of Poonam’s and involved golden and red beets–boiled until still slightly crispy, peeled and cubed–chopped sweet onion, and a vinaigrette of lemon and lime juice and olive oil.

Fast forward a few days, and I’m planning a steak dinner. I have small yellow squashes from the greenhouse to throw on the grill along with some baby bell peppers that jumped into my cart at the supermarket. Then I noticed the two remaining sweet onions and remembered a favorite summer recipe of my mom’s.

Because the onions weren’t terribly bulby yet, I sliced them in half lengthwise. (Otherwise I would have sliced rings at least a half-inch thick.) When I trimmed them, I left some of the root intact so the layers wouldn’t fall apart when they started cooking. I put the four halves in a tiny skillet with a tablespoon of butter and cooked them slowly with a lid on for about 10 minutes. After I turned them, I added a few teaspoons of brown sugar to the skillet. It combined with the butter and onion juices to make a caramelly syrup that continued to cook with the onions.

When the steaks went on the grill, I transferred the skillet there and topped the onions–cut side up–with grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, chopped fresh oregano, and a few grindings of pepper.

Slices of flatiron steak, grilled peppers and squashes, and Mom’s special onions=a summer feast.

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