Sunday, February 23, 2014

One Very Special Onion - Grilled Vidalia Onions with Gorgonzola

He's smelly and sometimes he makes you cry. No, I'm not talking about a bad boyfriend, I'm talking about an under appreciated and under loved veggie that I hold dear - The Onion. For me, onions of all kinds are a thing of beauty. 
My Grandma, "Mima" Brooklyn, NY, Circa 1940

I love them raw and crunchy, spicy or mild, cooked, grilled, or caramelized. Whenever I'm preparing a salad, it's honestly hard for me not to nibble on a few slices of raw onion along the way. There's just something about a vegetable that bites back that I can't resist. I do grant that uncooked onions aren't the most ideal snack for social interaction, and though I contend they stand on their own or with minimal enhancement beautifully, not everyone agrees. 

Taxonomically speaking, onions belong to the Allium Family, a group that also includes shallots, scallions, garlic, chives and leeks (not to mention our other favorite, ramps). The many health benefits  that allium vegetables offer should also not go unmentioned. Still, if I were to play favorites with onions specifically, Georgia's one and only Vidalia Onion variety would be my choice. Sweet and exceptionally mild, vidalias were always my Mima's favorite (and she was the original kitchenista). I know she passed her vidalia onion passion to me - she used to say they were so sweet you could eat them like an apple! Now I think that was a bit of hyperbole on my grandmother's part, but still, she sold me on the joys of this very special onion. Today, I'd like to celebrate my love for this veggie by showing you a somewhat minimalist approach to enjoying its wonders. Serve Grilled Vidalia Onions with Gorgonzola and Balsamic Glaze alongside any protein, even on top of a burger!  I believe this simple accompaniment will convert even the most stubborn onion hater. These sweet and savory grilled onions cook well atop an indoor grill pan, but also make a perfectly elegant grillable side  for your next outdoor barbecue too. Best of all, this recipe is as easy and tasty as they come. Enjoy!

Grilled Vidalia Onions with Gorgonzola & Balsamic Glaze, Photo: NK

Grilled Vidalia Onions With Gorgonzola & Balsamic Glaze
Makes 4 Servings, 1 Onion Slice Per Person

1/3 Cup Crumbled Gorgonzola Cheese (we used Gorgonzola Dolce, which is milder)
1 Large Vidalia Onion sliced into 1/2 inch rounds - you should get about 4 rounds from it
Balsamic Vinegar, Balsamic Reduction, or store-bought Balsamic Glaze
Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
Coarse Salt and Pepper

1. Preheat the broiler. 
On your stovetop, heat an ovenproof grill pan (or outdoor grill) for about 3 to 4 minutes over medium flame. Liberally brush both sides of the Onion rounds with Olive Oil. 

2. Place Onions on the grill pan and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes per side, onions become more golden, and grill marks appear. The onions should be softer but not still somewhat firm. Season the tops of the onions with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, then turn off the flame. 

3. A few minutes before you are ready to eat, sprinkle crumbled gorgonzola over each onion round and place grill pan under the broiler. Broil for 2 to 2.5 minutes or more, until cheese has fully softened and onions have browned a bit more. Remove from broiler, drizzle with Balsamic and serve! So yummy… 

Note: This recipe can be easily adapted to the outdoor grill in summer. Just cook a bit longer so cheese softens and skip the broiler portion if you don't have the time or inclination. Your cheese may not soften as well but this elegant veggie side will be just as tasty! 

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