Here is a rich, savory-sweet spread that is easy to make and delivers the perfect mix of autumn favors for your next get-together. You’ll note that I used a combination of yellow onion and shallots, but if you only have onions, no worries. Go with the flow! And while caramelizing onions and roasting heads of garlic don’t require tons of effort or high-tech expertise, these steps take time. So if you are planning to make this for a party, I suggest you do these two steps ahead and gently reheat to finish the dish. You’ll be able to pull this yummy spread together in a matter of minutes on party day.
- One large head garlic, top removed, drizzled with olive oil and wrapped in aluminum foil (If you have access to different varieties of garlic, as I do, you’ll want something mellow like Georgian Crystal for this dish. Armenian is another good variety for roasting.)
- Two cups mix of yellow onions and shallots, thinly sliced
- Three tablespoons each olive oil and unsalted butter
- Two or three tablespoons dry white sherry
- Two tablespoons quality raw honey
- Two tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, minced
- High-quality olive oil for finishing (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake your foil-wrapped garlic bulb for one hour, until very tender. Set aside to cool. When the garlic has cooled enough to handle, squeeze the pulp from the cloves. You should have about three to four tablespoons. Set aside. (Can be made up to a week in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)
- Slice your onions and shallots vertically, as thinly as possible. (Slicing them once down the middle and then placing them flat on your cutting board and cutting from a side angle will make this easier.) Heat your butter and oil over medium heat, and add your onions and shallots once the butter has melted. Give them a good dose of sea salt and a good stir; then reduce the heat to low. Continue to cook and occasionally stir for about one and half hours. They do not need your constant attention, but they do need to be watched so they don’t cook too fast or burn. (Can be made up to two days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)
- Once you have caramelized your onions and shallots—they’ll have reduced quite a bit and become thick and syrupy—mash your roasted garlic cloves and add them into the skillet, stirring to combine. Add another dash of salt and splash in your sherry. Cook and stir until the raw alcohol taste has abated, about five minutes. At the last minute, swirl in the honey and the rosemary. Heat gently and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
- If you have a super high-quality olive oil that you use for special occasions only, consider drizzling a tablespoon over the spread before serving. A very good truffle oil will work, too.
The cooking time includes roasting garlic and caramelizing the onions and shallots. Note that these can be done at the same time or a couple days ahead.
Serve the spread warm or at room temperature (not cold). Great with bread, crackers or cheese or as a topping for roasted or grilled meats.
Green Gal Tip
When I’m roasting one head of garlic, I always make it two or three because roasted garlic is a great homemade condiment (like Harissa or Z’hug) that keeps several days—up to a week—in a tightly closed jar in the frig. The same is true for your caramelized onions—make extra and store! Both are wonderful in salad dressings, soups, sauces and salsas. Roasted garlic and caramelized onions will become secret ingredients that make your guests swoon over your creations.
Well, how about that bread? Stay tuned Green Gal readers: if you have signed up for the seasonal menu, my whole grain and seed loaf recipe will be in your inbox around the Equinox. Happy Autumn!