Photo by Judith Hausman
When you need quick recipe that will satisfy several different appetites, you might try calling on the in-season onion family. For Mothers Day, I did the cooking. I had to please a couple of hearty and discerning young appetites; a couple of weight-conscious, middle-aged appetites; and a downright picky senior eater. Enter the onion family.
Enriched and softened and then sprinkled with just a little cheese, a combination of sweet onions, leeks and scallions made a satisfying springtime lunch. The three-onion gratin could also have served as a special side dish for a larger meal. I served it with a simple salad, good bread and baked rhubarb and apricots for dessert.
Make sure to clean the often-sandy leeks well by slicing the white and light green sections lengthwise and rinsing the layers. Let the dish be vegetarian (as listed here), or crumble in three strips of cooked bacon or a half cup of diced ham. You can also use all or part heavy cream, if you like.
Choose your cheese, too. Instead of Parmesan, try 3 ounces of crumbled, soft goat cheese; 3 ounces of crumbled gorgonzola; or even a 1/2 cup of grated gruyere. You can also substitute smoked paprika or oregano for the herbs.
Serves: 4 to 6
- 2 medium yellow onions, quartered
- 4 medium leeks, about 2 pounds
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 to 3 scallions, chopped
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup whole milk or evaporated whole milk
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
- 1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Toss onions and leeks with oil in a 9-by-11-inch baking dish, and season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the scallions, and cook for another 20 minutes or so, until everything is soft and lightly browned. Set aside.
Heat oven to broil.
Melt butter in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat; add flour, and cook, stirring, until smooth (about 1 minute). Little by little, stir in milk; when the sauce begins to thicken, add the wine. Cook carefully for about 5 minutes, stirring to keep smooth. Season sauce with salt, pepper and thyme.
Pour sauce evenly over onions. Sprinkle with cheese and paprika. Broil until cheese is melted and lightly browned.
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