It is almost spring! Well, I guess it technically already is spring, but it seems like we’re only halfway there. In less-southernly places, I’m sure I would consider it winter; however, spring and fall are definitely based on what you’re accustomed to. If you live in Florida, maybe it has to be in the high 70s for you to consider leaving behind your winter coat, whereas people in Minnesota break out the shorts once the high hits 45. I’m not actually sure that any of this is the case, but I know that boys in my high school in Kentucky started wearing shorts when the high hit 60, and I had a friend at UNC who would wear shorts on sunny days in the middle of winter because she incorrectly thought that the day would warm up.
I’m one of those people who is almost always cold during the winter, so I’m sure to not pack away my big sweaters and flannel shirts until I’m positive that I’d sweat the moment I put them on. My predilections for what to cook seem to be going this way too; I’ve noticed that lots of food blogs are featuring asparagus, berries and all the other foods we eat with relish once the ground thaws. But these foods actually aren’t in season quite yet, so I’m still purchasing the sad winter produce that I’ve been stewing over for a few months, and sadly I’ll continue to do so until probably mid-April. Once the fresh, more-local-than-Chile asparagus comes, though, I won’t stop buying it.
In the meantime, I’ve been sticking with broccoli, kale, spinach and onions. And really, I’ve been adding onions to everything, including dishes I make with the aforementioned other vegetables. Onions are one of the most under-appreciated vegetables.They add so much flavor to so many dishes, yet many people claim to dislike them. Those people don’t know what they’re missing. I’ll take all of the onions they refuse, and then I’ll make mountains of caramelized onion dip. If they’re tempted by the looks of it, I’ll share a little. Just a little, though, because this dip is too good to be overly generous. I made it twice in two weeks, and only one of the times was for a party. I can’t easily justify making it just for me (although recently I’ve definitely had a few meals where chip and dip was my main dish), so I’ll be patiently waiting to pull out this recipe anytime I’m planning to have guests.
Caramelized onion dip
from The Splendid Table
makes about 2 cups
Note: I’ve made this with the called for amount of cream cheese and also with less cream cheese and more sour cream. It’s good both ways, but I prefer it with less cream cheese. You could substitute full-fat Greek yogurt for the sour cream, but the flavor will be a little different.
This is also fantastic on sandwiches.
extra virgin olive oil
2 large onions or 3 small onions, cut into a ¼ to ½ inch dice
2 bay leaves, broken into several pieces
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon tomato paste
⅓ cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
⅔ cup beef broth
1 ½ ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
⅔ cup sour cream
a squeeze of lemon juice
chips and crudites for dipping
1. Coat the bottom of a straight-sided large skillet with a light film of olive oil. Place over high heat, and once the pan is hot and the oil gently sizzles when a drop of water is added, add the onions, bay leaves, cloves and a pinch of salt and pepper; saute for one minute, and then cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 10 minutes.
2. Uncover the pan, raise the heat to medium-high and cook the onions for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring continuously, until they turn a rich golden brown. Be sure that the glaze that forms on the bottom of the pan doesn’t burn. Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, wine and beef broth, scraping up the glaze while the liquid boils off, 8 to 14 minutes. Taste and season the onions with salt and pepper, then set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
3. Mix in the cream cheese, sour cream and lemon juice. Season once again with salt and pepper, transfer to a serving dish, and dig in with chips (my preference) or crudites.