Jul 9, 2010

Three reasons to love Vidalia season

Texas has their 1015s, Washington offers Walla-Wallas, Hawaii boasts their Maui Sweets. But our neighbors to the south give us our beloved regional favorite sweet onion:  the Vidalia.  Thank you Georgia!  One website gives credit to Piggly Wiggly for helping push Vidalias into commercial fame.  Our family already digs the pig; now we have one more reason to like this chain with a funny name. 

And here are my three most recent reasons to love Vidalias while they're in season:

1) Last night's dinner.  This warm German potato salad got a hefty handful of diced Vidalias, and it was delicious.  That recipe is definitely a keeper - perfect with grilled brats or polish sausage.  I used yellow fingerling potatoes which stayed nice and firm, and needed only a quick slice into halves or quarters to make them bite-sized chunks.  The rest of the Vidalia got quartered and skewered along with some patty pan and yellow squash and grilled.

2) Savory Zucchini Bread.  As predicted, today brought rain.  I saw it as a great excuse to take a second stab at making some savory zucchini bread.  I compared the traditional sweet recipes with the savory recipes side-by-side and came up with my own compromise.  One of the changes I made was to saute half of a diced Vidalia in butter before adding to the batter.  It definitely brought out the sweet onion flavor.  Fresh out of the oven, this version is definitely closer to  what I was envisioning.  After it's been refrigerated for a day, we'll decide if the recipe is one to keep or tweak some more.

3) Caramelized onions.  Since I was messing up the kitchen anyway, I sliced up a bag of Vidalias and roasted them.  If you've never done this, it's easy - just time-consuming.  (I'd be hard-pressed to do it with less than 5 pounds of onions.)

Step 1.  Started with 5 pounds of raw sliced onions, and a little EVOO.

Step 2. After about 20 minutes, they start to reduce and caramelize.

Step 3.  After about 40 minutes, the onions are definitely starting to brown.

Step 4.  After an hour, the onions are caramelized and ready to go in the fridge or freezer.

They are absolutely delicious. They will go perfectly in soup (French onion or pureed and creamy), piled on a pizza with roasted sweet peppers, or tossed in just about anything.

Exquisite timing on finishing them up - the dishwasher and dryer are running and the clouds are clearing.  That means I have a few minutes to head outdoors and see if some weeds need pulling before I give the house a little TLC as the weekend approaches.