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.