At its most basic, cooking is about recognizing what ingredients are available—or what raw materials must be used before spoiling—and then using those items to create a product that feeds our bodies. The fun of cooking, for me, comes from noticing the colors and textures of materials and playing with these qualities to create something that makes me and those around me feel joyful. It’s not a fussy sort of strictly measured cooking that requires shopping for long lists of expensive items. It’s about making do with everyday ingredients and using them to make myself, as well as those around me, feel nurtured.
Ingredients are like a set of blocks. While the blocks are always the same, with a little playfulness and visualization, they can be stacked in endless combinations. I think it’s why my child has never been a picky eater.
Try this quick, simple and beautiful way of cooking red onions to create a delicious side dish. You need only three common pantry ingredients, plus salt and pepper.
Roasted Onion Flowers
Ingredients (including simple alternatives you might have on hand)
- 4 or 5 red onions
…Or any onions! While the color of red onions makes a beautiful presentation, the subtle golden hues of white onions will also make a standout dish.
- 3 Tbsp or so of oil
…Olive oil and coconut oil are staples to live by! Their essential fats help our brains operate at optimal levels.
- 2 Tbsp or so of balsamic vinegar
…Or any oil-and-vinegar-based salad dressing that you like. For these photos, I substituted salad dressing because I had run out of balsamic vinegar.
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Set your oven to bake at 425℉.
Slice just the stem ends off of each onion, so that they have a foot on which they can stand flat.
Peel papery skins off your onions.
Slice into—but not all the way through—each onion in eighths, like wedges. You will want to stop your cuts about 1/2 inch above the foot you just made. The idea is for the onions to remain intact but with deep scores through the layers. This will allow the heat of the oven to reach all the layers.
Pour 1 Tbsp of olive oil into the bottom of a glass baking dish.
Place the onions stem side down in the dish. Pour the remaining olive oil and balsamic vinegar over and into the slices of each onion, then roll them around gently in the bottom of the dish until each is well coated with oil and vinegar.
Reposition the onions so that they are each resting on their foot, and so that each has room to spread open as it cooks. Don’t forget to season with salt and pepper!
Use foil to tightly cover your dish. Bake covered for 30 minutes.
Browse your favorite art collection while you wait.
After 30 minutes, remove the foil and bake uncovered for another 10–20 minutes, or until the bulb is both softening and beginning to open up. It’ll resemble a flower. Don’t be afraid to leave your onions in the oven for longer than you might guess; the resulting crisping and curled edges of your slicing will create beautiful “petals.”
Use a large spatula to gently remove the onions to a plate, then carefully separate the “petals” until they look like a flower. These remind me of peonies.
Serve your onions whole, one per plate. The caramelized flavor is surprisingly sweet but you can always offer additional salad dressing, if you like. Alternatively, group all on a serving platter with a main course and allow people to section off individual pieces, family-style!
- 4 small red onions
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Sea salt and Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- Set your oven to bake at 425 degrees fahrenheit.
- Peel papery skins off of your onions.
- Slice just the stem ends off of each, so that they stand flat.
- Slice into each onion in eighths, like wedges — but not all the way through into slices, just down to about 1/2 inch up from the now-flat bottom so that they remain in one piece.
- Pour 1 Tbsp of olive oil into the bottom of a glass baking dish.
- Place the onions stem side down in adish. Pour the remaining olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the onions, then roll them around gently in the bottom of the dish until nicely coated with oil and vinegar.
- Rest the onions stem side down in a baking dish and season with salt & pepper.
- Use foil to tightly cover your dish and bake covered for 30 minutes at 425 degrees.
- After 30 minutes, remove the foil and bake your onions uncovered for another 10 minutes, or until the bulb is both softening and beginning to open up to resemble a flower. Don’t be afraid to leave your onions in the oven for longer than you might originally think; the resulting crisping and curled edges of your slicing will create beautiful “petals.”
- Use a large spatula to gently remove the onions to a plate, then carefully separate the “petals” until they look like a pretty flower.
- Serve whole, one per plate. Alternatively, group all on a serving platter with a main course and allow people to section off individual pieces, family style!