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Read: Recipes

Filtering by Category: Winter

Onion Soup

Dylan Perese

Onion Soup (Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée)

Serves about 4 to 6.

Note: This beautiful classic soup is built on the patient sautéing of onions so that they become golden, but do not burn. We like to serve the toasty cheese baguettes on the side to give more options — you can dunk them in the soup or pile them on top before digging in. From Beth Dooley.

• 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more softened butter for Cheesy Toasts

• 1/4 c. chopped parsley

• 1 (2-in.) sprig fresh rosemary, plus more small sprigs for garnish

• 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 tsp. dried

• 1 small bay leaf

• 1 1/2 lb. onions, mix of yellow and white, thinly sliced

• 2 large shallots, thinly sliced

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

• 6 c. beef or chicken stock

• Generous shot of Worcestershire sauce, to taste

• 1/3 c. sherry or cognac, or generous splash balsamic vinegar, to taste

• 12 (1-in.) thick baguette slices

• 1 garlic clove, halved crosswise

• 1 1/4 c. shredded Gruyère cheese


To make the soup: In a large, deep, heavy soup pot set over low heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter and add the parsley, rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, onions and shallots. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and stir to coat the onions. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring regularly, until the onions are very, very soft, sticky sweet and a deep golden color, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Then stir in the stock, increase the heat a little and bring to a simmer, skimming off any foam that rises to the top. Simmer, uncovered, until the stock has reduced by about 1/2 cup, about 20 to 30 minutes. Season with the Worcestershire and sherry, and serve garnished with small sprigs of rosemary if desired and the Cheesy Toasts on the side.

To make the Cheesy Toasts: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spread both sides of the baguette slices with butter and place on a baking sheet. Bake, turning once, until golden, about 7 minutes per side. Remove and rub each slice on both sides with the cut side of the garlic clove. Arrange on the baking sheet and sprinkle evenly with the cheese.

Turn on the broiler and run the toasts under it until the cheese is bubbly; watch so it doesn’t burn, about 2 to 4 minutes.

Nutrition information per each of 6 servings:

Calories: 360

Fat: 20 g

Sodium: 490 mg

Carbohydrates: 31 g

Saturated fat: 12 g

Total sugars: 8 g

Protein: 15 g

Cholesterol: 55 mg

Dietary fiber: 3 g

Exchanges per serving: 2 starch, 1 high-fat protein, 2 fat.

Roasted Root Vegetable Hash

Pallas Erdrich

Make hash from roasted vegetable leftovers

Plan ahead when you're roasting vegetables so there are extras for other meals, including our favorite, roasted vegetable hash. 

Who can resist roasting all those wonderful autumn vegetables? The beets, squash, pumpkins, carrots, parsnips, rutabagas? Roasting these dense, earthy vegetables concentrates their sweet nature by drawing forth their sugars to brown the edges into a lovely caramel finish.

The thing is, I always overdo it and make far more than we can ever finish at one sitting. So we eat them throughout the week after I stir them into soups and stews, toss them into salads and scatter them on top of pizzas and open-face sandwiches. Now that we’re revving up for the holidays, it’s good to have a few easy recipes for simple dinners and last-minute guests. When I roast extra vegetables for a party, it’s nice to have them at the ready for a meal the next day so I don’t have to cook.

Here are some tips for the best way to roast autumn’s bounty, as well as ways to enjoy each last bit.

Tips for roasting vegetables:

• Preheat the oven and the roasting pan so that the vegetables hit a hot surface before they go into the oven. This expedites the process and helps make sure they’ll be evenly browned.

• Be sure the vegetables are cut approximately the same size so that they roast evenly and in the same amount of time.

• Spread them out on the pan so they don’t touch. This allows the air to circulate so that the edges crisp.

• Shake the pan halfway through roasting so the veggies don’t stick.

• Rotate the pan several times so that they cook evenly.

• Be sure they’re nicely browned.

Tips for using roasted vegetables:

• Toss with hot pasta, a little extra olive oil, sharp aged cheese.

• Arrange on dark greens and dress with maple mustard or honey mustard vinaigrette and a handful of toasted nuts.

• Stir into your favorite prepared soups or stews.

• Scatter over pizza or hot open-faced sandwiches.

• Best? Turn them into hash. Sometimes, we add a bit of ham, or turkey or (even better) bacon. These are terrific finished with fried or poached eggs. It takes but a minute to reheat the veggies in a heavy skillet so that they crisp up for an especially delicious casual dinner or special brunch.

Think of all those holiday festivities coming up, dream of all those leftovers, and think roasted vegetable hash.

Roasted Vegetables

Serves 8 to 10 (so plenty for leftover hash).

• 1 small whole acorn squash, peeled, halved, seeded and diced into 1/2- in. pieces

• 2 medium carrots, diced into 1/2-in. pieces

• 3 small beets, peeled and diced into 1/2-in. pieces

• 1 large parsnip, peeled and diced into 1/2-in. pieces

• 2 small Yukon Gold potatoes, diced into 1/2-in. pieces

• 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

• 1/2 tsp. coarse salt


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Preheat 2 rimmed baking pans until hot, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Toss the vegetables with the oil and salt, and scatter over the preheated baking sheets. Roast in the oven, shaking the pan occasionally and turning it once, until the vegetables are golden and begin to brown, about 45 to 60 minutes.

Serve hot. Save leftover roasted vegetables, once they’ve cooled, in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Roasted Root Vegetable Hash

Serves 4.

Note: Use any combination of roasted vegetables and add a little cooked bacon or sprinkle with shredded cheese for a more substantial dish. From Beth Dooley.

• 1 tbsp. olive oil

• 2 to 3 c. mixed roasted vegetables

• 1 tsp. fresh thyme

• 1 tbsp. butter

• 4 eggs


Set a medium heavy skillet over medium heat and warm the oil. Add the vegetables and fresh thyme, and stir to heat through and crisp, about 3 to 5 minutes. Arrange on a serving platter or individual plates.

Set a separate skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and swirl it to coat the pan. Crack the eggs into the skillet, cover and cook until the yolk is just set, about 1 to 3 minutes. Remove the lid. Using a spatula, carefully transfer the eggs to the hash. Serve hot.

Butternut Squash and Bean Soup

Pallas Erdrich

Add squash to your bean soup

This pairing goes well with those chillier days and nights. 

As soon as temperatures drop, squash figures big in my kitchen, especially when it comes to warming soups. Think rich, thick bisques of puréed roasted squash seasoned with curry or ginger, lush with coconut cream. Or, how about a hearty vegetable combo, bright with bell peppers and emerald kale? Squash is the lazy home cook’s dream.

Squash, in all shapes and sizes, is ubiquitous throughout the world, easy to grow and highly nutritious. It works well in a range of cuisines — Asian, African, Italian, Mexican — the possibilities for seasoning are endless. Granted that all the different varieties of squash are delicious with subtle variations in flavor and texture, but I favor butternut squash for soup. I’m fond of its earthy-sweet nature and dense, creamy texture. Its skin is smooth, unlike the bumpy turban or ridged acorn squash, so it’s relatively easy to peel.

When shopping for any kind of squash, look for a firm, hard rind. This allows it to last longer, especially when stored in a cool, dark, dry place. Choose a squash that is heavy for its size with a stem that’s intact. Generally, it should be firm and dry, its color rich without any hints of green. The surface should be dull and matte; a shiny skin indicates the squash was picked too early. Avoid cracks and soft spots that can lead to mold.

If there’s a challenge to working with squash, it’s in the peeling. The frequent mistake is to attack the squash with a standard vegetable peeler. A quicker and more reliable method is to cut the squash into wedges, then rest each wedge on a cutting board and, using a sharp, heavy knife, remove the peel and seeds. You’ll take some of the flesh with it, but given the size of most butternuts, that’s OK.

Roasting big hunks of squash takes about 30 to 40 minutes. Cut into chunks, squash cooks in about 20 minutes in a soup or stew and contributes a light subtle sweetness to the stock. Roasting chunks of squash draws out its unctuous texture and caramel flavors, in about 20 to 25 minutes time. When those chunks of roasted squash are lacquered with maple syrup and topped with whipped creamy, they make a fine dessert.

These days, farmers markets are exploding with peppers, dark greens that are nearing the end of their season while squashes and root vegetables are coming on full. This soup brings them all together in one big, bright bowl.

Butternut Squash and Bean Soup

Serves 4 to 6.

Note: Butternut squash contributes an earthy, subtle sweetness to the stock, while the beans are creamy and add body to this hearty dish. Pair it with crusty bread and a tossed salad for a meal. From Beth Dooley.

• 2 tbsp. olive oil

• 1 medium onion, minced

• 2 garlic cloves, minced

• 2 tsp. chopped fresh sage

• 3 c. peeled, seeded and cubed squash (cut into 1-in. chunks)

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

• Generous pinch red pepper flakes

• 2 tbsp. tomato paste

• 1/2 c. dry red or white wine

• 5 to 6 c. chicken or vegetable stock

• 1 c. cooked or canned white beans, drained

• 1 large bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-in. pieces

• 1 c. thinly sliced kale


In a large deep pot, heat the oil over medium and sauté the onions, garlic and sage until just tender. Stir in the squash, a generous pinch of salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, and the tomato paste. Then add the wine and stock. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, partially covered, until the squash is tender, about 25 minutes.

Stir in beans, bell pepper and kale; heat through. Adjust seasonings to taste before serving.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 160 Carbohydrates 21 g Protein 8 g Fat 6 g Saturated fat 1 g Cholesterol 0 mg Sodium 160 mg

Total sugars 4 g

Dietary fiber 5 g

Exchanges: 1 starch, ½ carb, 1 lean protein, ½ fat.

Three ways to use cranberries

Pallas Erdrich

Double Ginger Mini-Loaves, Very Fresh Cranberry Relish, and Cranberry Ginger Sauce

Right now, my kitchen is full of comforting holiday smells. Gingerbread studded with tangy cranberries, just pulled from the oven, is cooling on the counter.

Most years, I’m scrambling to make last-minute gifts for friends and family members. But this time I’m not letting my holiday goodies get away from me. These mini ginger-cakes actually taste better when made in advance, allowing time for the spices to mellow. They’re so rich with butter and molasses that they’ll stay moist for several weeks. They’re especially good served with dollops of cranberry sauce sparked with chunks of homemade candied ginger.

Wisconsin is the fresh cranberry capital of the world. Though production is higher in New Jersey and Massachusetts, their crop is pressed into juice, dried or canned. I am partial to the organic cranberries from Ruesch Century Farm in central Wisconsin and James Lake Farms in northern Wisconsin, where berries are grown without chemicals in smaller bogs. They’re available at farmers markets and our local food co-ops.

Now that it’s peak cranberry season, my sauce production is in full swing. My grandmother used a heavy metal grinder, clamped to her kitchen counter, for her fresh cranberry-orange sauce. Into the giant maw went the fresh berries with a whole orange while out came the tart relish she lightly sweetened with sugar.

These days, I rely on a food processor to do the trick, use maple sugar for complex flavors and substitute a few sweet, thin-skinned clementines for the navel oranges once used. This sauce stays fresh for at least a week in a covered container in the refrigerator. It’s delicious swirled into mayonnaise for turkey salad, as salsa for chips, and a garnish for roast chicken.

Cooking transforms cranberries into a pretty tart sauce that doubles for jam on scones, is great over vanilla ice cream or blood orange sorbet, terrific swirled into yogurt or baked into a crust. In a sauce, they thicken up as they cook because of pectin in the berries. For my recipe, the sauce is sparked with chunks of candied ginger to add not-so-sweet heat.

Fresh, local cranberries are always the best choice; they’re sweeter than frozen and require less sugar to temper their bite. The only trick is to add the sweetener after the sauce is cooked. It doesn’t matter if it’s honey, maple, white or brown sugar, adding it too soon can make the berries tough — and it’s easy to add too much. I always make a little extra sauce, as a gift to myself.

Mette Nielsen - Star Tribune 

Mette Nielsen - Star Tribune 

Double Ginger Mini-Loaves

Makes 2 mini-loaves (6 to 8 slices per loaf).

Note: These are just the right size for gift giving. The best part is filling the kitchen with wonderful smells. Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and they’ll stay fresh and moist for at least a week. From Beth Dooley.

• 1 1/4 c. flour

• 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

• 1/2 tsp. ground ginger

• 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

• Pinch ground cloves

• 1/4 tsp. baking power

• 1/4 tsp. salt

• 1/2 c. mild molasses

• 1/3 c. milk

• 1/3 c. light brown sugar

• 1/2 stick (4 tbsp.) unsalted butter, melted

• 2 tbsp. grated fresh ginger root

• 1 egg

• 1/2 c. fresh cranberries


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 mini (3- by 5 3/4-inch) loaf pans.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, cloves, baking powder and salt.

In a separate bowl, beat together the molasses, milk, sugar, butter, fresh ginger and egg. Beat in the flour mixture; stir in the cranberries.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from the pans. Cool completely on wire racks before wrapping.

Very Fresh Cranberry Relish

Makes about 3 cups.

Note: Serve this zesty, bright tasting salsa with chips, swirled into mayonnaise and whisked into vinaigrette. It will keep at least a week in the refrigerator in a covered container. From Beth Dooley.

• 2 unpeeled clementines, halved and seeded

• 1 1/2 c. fresh cranberries

• 1/2 to 3/4 c. maple sugar or white sugar, to taste


Working in batches, purée the clementines and cranberries in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Turn into a bowl and stir in the sugar to taste.

Cranberry Ginger Sauce

Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Note: Tangy and sweet with gingery heat, this sauce doubles as jam on scones or over ice cream. From Beth Dooley.

• 1 1/2 c. fresh cranberries

• 1/2 c. cider

• 1/4 c. chopped crystallized ginger

• 1/2 c. sugar or honey, to taste


Put the cranberries and cider into a saucepan and set over medium heat. Cook until the cranberries have just begun to pop and stir in the crystallized ginger. Continue cooking until the sauce thickens, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the sugar or honey to taste.

Mushroom Bourguignon

Pallas Erdrich

Make way for mushrooms instead of beef

Serve them for a hearty rendition of bourguignon. 

Mette Nielsen

Mette Nielsen

Mushrooms make a terrific stand-in for many dishes featuring beef. When sautéed in a little butter or oil for a long time, they become firmer, denser and meatier-tasting. When properly cooked, mushrooms enrich soups, stews and sauces and are terrific in such classics as Beef Bourguignon.

The best way to cook mushrooms is in a skillet in small batches, giving them enough space. This way, they release their juices and their flavors condense. Do not throw a whole pound of mushrooms into the skillet and crowd the pan because they will become soggy as they stew together and turn into a rubbery mass.

Given more room in the skillet, they will caramelize and develop a deep, nutty taste. It takes patience and time. Mushrooms crowded in the pan and undercooked, I think, is the real reason some people say they don’t like them.

Our co-ops and grocers offer plenty of good cultivated varieties of mushrooms — portobello, cremini (baby portobellos) and shiitake.

It’s best to buy mushrooms whole, not sliced or cut and packaged; they should feel moist and heavy for their size. Place the mushrooms in a paper bag in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Clean mushrooms before cooking them. It’s best not to run them under the tap because they absorb too much water. Instead, trim the stems with a paring knife and then wipe the stem and mushroom cap with a damp towel or soft brush. Alternately, you can rinse mushrooms, by dropping them into a bowl of water, lift them out and blot dry on a clean dishcloth or paper towel.

Once the mushrooms are cooked, they will keep in a covered container for several days in the refrigerator or may be frozen and ready to add to soups or stews.

Toss sautéed mushrooms with pasta or stir into rice with chopped parsley and a little cheese. Sautéed mushrooms are also delicious served on bruschetta and pizza.

Vegetarians and their friends will love this meatless bourguignon and other such mushroom creations. These dishes are lighter than the originals and just as satisfying. No one will ask, “Where’s the beef?” 


Serves 4.

Note: This hearty wintry dish comes together quickly for a weekday supper but is elegant enough for a weekend dinner party. It doubles easily and may be made ahead of time, then assembled right before serving. From Beth Dooley.

• 1 tbsp. vegetable oil

• 1 tbsp. unsalted butter

• 2 lb. cremini mushrooms, sliced

• 2 garlic cloves, minced

• 2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

• Generous pinch red pepper flakes

• 1/4 c. white wine

• 1/4 c. mushroom, chicken or vegetable stock

• Cooked egg noodles for serving

• 1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley for garnish


In a large skillet over medium heat, whisk together the oil and butter until hot and bubbly. Working in batches, sauté the mushrooms until browned on all sides, about 5 to 8 minutes, removing each batch to a plate until they’re all cooked.

Whisk in the garlic, thyme and a sprinkle of salt, pepper and the red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the wine and stock, scraping up any browned bits that stick to the bottom of the pan.

Return the mushrooms to the pan, reduce heat and simmer until the liquid has thickened, about 5 to 8 minutes. Serve over cooked egg noodles and serve garnished with parsley.

Originally Published by The Star Tribune

Smoky Tri-Bean Sweet Potato Chili

Pallas Erdrich

Chili is Minnesota's winter staple

Reach for the sweet potatoes for an unexpected flavor in this cold-weather dinnertime favorite. 

Mette Nielsen

Mette Nielsen

Chili is the perfect one-pot winter meal. It’s quick and warming and possible to make with locally grown dried beans and sweet potatoes.

You can find the local dried beans in co-ops and winter markets. Look for Jacob’s Cattle (with white and red spots), Marfax (tiny brown beans), Swedish Brown beans (larger brown beans), and cranberry (a deep maroon). They all add color and flavor to any soup or stew. Because all dried beans are relatively neutral in flavor, they may be used interchangeably, so if the local heirloom beans are not available, any of the common varieties will do nicely.

The biggest difference is between canned and dried. Canned beans, as convenient as they are, seldom taste as good as those cooked at home. But there are times when they save the day. I prefer the brands from natural food companies, such as Eden. Though more expensive than others, the textures are better and beans are far less salty.

Soaking beans before cooking reintroduces moisture, shortens the cooking time, and makes it easy to remove the over-dry or immature beans that float to the surface. Soaking also helps make the beans more digestible.

For an overnight soak, cover the beans with water at least four times their volume and allow to stand at room temperature overnight (or at least for four hours).

Lacking time, quick-soak the beans by covering them with four times their volume of water, bringing to a boil for a full minute, then allowing them to stand for one hour.

Once the beans have soaked, pour off the soaking water, cover with 2 inches of fresh water and bring to a rolling boil for about 10 minutes. Scoop off the scum from the surface. Then reduce the heat and simmer the beans until they are soft and creamy, but not falling apart.

The cooking time will depend on the type of bean and its maturity, but most take between 45 minutes and 1 ½ hours. Once the beans are cooked, drain before using. They can be held in the refrigerator for several days in a covered container.

This chili recipe works well with both freshly cooked and canned beans. I like using a mix of beans for color, but a single variety works equally well. The chili tastes even better the next day.

Smoky Tri-Bean Sweet Potato Chili

Serves 6.

Note: From Beth Dooley.

• 1 tbsp. vegetable oil

• 1 c. chopped onions

• 3 c. diced sweet potatoes

• 2 garlic cloves, minced

• 1 chipotle in adobo sauce, chopped

• 1/2 to 1 tbsp. chili powder, to taste

• 2 tsp. ground cumin, or more to taste


• 1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes

• 1 1/2 to 2 c. chicken or vegetable stock, as needed

• 1 c. each cooked or canned black, white and navy beans (3 c. total), drained and rinsed

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

• Chopped cilantro for garnish


Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat and sauté the onion until translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the sweet potatoes, garlic, chipotle in adobo, chili powder and cumin, and cook, stirring until the spices smell fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and stock, and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 30 to 35 minutes, adding more stock if necessary. Stir in the beans and continue cooking until heated through, another 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with the cilantro.

Parsnip Bisque

Pallas Erdrich

Parsnips offer good seasonal options

Eat with the season by using parsnips, which offer surprising flavor. 

Photo by Mette Nielsen

Photo by Mette Nielsen

Parsnips are perhaps the most unassuming and underappreciated members of the underground vegetable family. Sweet as carrots and earthy as squash, they are slightly nutty — reminiscent of chestnuts.

Parsnips turn creamy when boiled and mashed, and when oven-roasted, they become crisp on the outside and silky within. The flavor of parsnips works nicely with a variety of other flavors, from savory herbs such as parsley, thyme and rosemary, to the heat of ginger and chile peppers, to aromatic spices like curry, cumin and coriander.

Slather steamed parsnips with butter, then drizzle them with lemon, lime or orange for a delicious side dish.

You can still find fresh local parsnips in natural food co-ops and at the winter farmers markets. Look for the smaller roots and avoid the huge specimens that tend to be woody and have a tough central core. As with all roots, choose organic parsnips that are grown in chemical-free soil. Parsnips have a thick skin and are best peeled before cooking; use a sturdy peeler or paring knife.

To roast or sauté parsnips, it’s best to slice and blanch them quickly in boiling water, then drain and dry them before proceeding with a recipe.

Parsnips store at least a week when refrigerated in plastic bags. Low in calories, reasonably priced, available and good tasting, parsnips also serve as the root of a good winter soup, as with this recipe.

Recipe: Parsnip Bisque

Makes about 4 cups (serves about 4 to 6).

Note: This lush soup tastes plenty rich and is satisfying but, surprisingly, contains no cream. It makes a fine light lunch or supper paired with a green salad and crusty bread. From Beth Dooley.

• 1 tbsp. unsalted butter or vegetable oil

• 1 c. chopped onion

• 1 lb. parsnips, peeled and chopped

• 1 medium-size Yukon Gold potato, peeled and chopped

• 3 sprigs fresh thyme

• 1 sprig fresh rosemary

• Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

• 3 c. chicken or vegetable stock

• Several shakes of hot sauce, to taste

• Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste.

• 1/4 c. sliced green onions

• Chopped fresh parsley for garnish


In a large heavy pot over medium heat, melt the butter and saute the onion, parsnips and potato until the potato begins to soften and the onion is translucent, about 8 minutes.

Stir in the thyme, rosemary and nutmeg along with the stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove and discard the thyme and rosemary sprigs.

Puree the soup in batches using a blender or immersion blender.

Return the soup to the saucepan to warm through and season to taste with the hot sauce, salt and pepper. Serve garnished with the green onions and parsley.

Originally Published by The Star Tribune

Pickle Pearl Onions

Pallas Erdrich

A cocktail hour treat!

This quick technique offers up a ready accompaniment to dinner or happy hour. 

My first taste of a pickled pearl onion was from my dad’s martini. The onion was crunchy and tart and a far cry from our Sunday dinner’s frozen pearl onions in “real” cream sauce. For years I stocked up on those “cocktail onions” for drinks and snacks until I discovered how easy it was to make my own. The onions I use are sold in 10-ounce mesh bags in the produce department, in the colors of white, red and gold. They add flavor and color to soups, stews and braises. But I like them best pickled.

These little onions are milder and just a tad sweeter than their larger cousins. They are grown commercially in high-density rows, then harvested while still small. There is an actual variety of onion called the “white pearl,” which is beloved by the French and Swedish. It is a different variety from the commercial onions and is grown mostly in home gardens. I keep a bag of the different colors on hand: The red are the sharpest tasting; the gold have a silky texture, and the white maintain their pure white color and snap once they’re peeled.

Like all onions, these pearls should feel firm and heavy, and look shiny. The skin around the neck should be very tightly closed. They shouldn’t have any soft or dark spots or sprouting. One sure way to see if the onions are fresh is to sniff them before buying. If the odor is strong, they may be past their prime.

Store these onions in their mesh bags in a cool, dry and well-ventilated place until ready to use. Light can cause them to turn bitter. Because they readily absorb moisture, keep them away from potatoes, which exude a natural gas that speeds the onions’ spoilage. Pearl onions are in season year-round and are good to pickle at any time.

To peel pearl onions: Pearl onions are thin-skinned, so they can be tricky to peel. The quickest method is to blanch them first in a pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds, then drain and cool them. The peels will slip off right away and the onions will be ready to use.

Pickled Onions

Makes about 3 cups.

Note: These will keep several weeks in the refrigerator. They make terrific holiday gifts. They're great as a condiment on a cheese platter and perfect in a martini. The red onions will turn the brine a very pretty shade of pink. From Beth Dooley.

• 3 c. pearl onions, mix of red, white and gold

• 8 cloves

• 2 sprigs fresh thyme

• 6 whole bay leaves

• 2 c. water

• 2 c. white wine vinegar

• 1/4 c. sugar

• 2 tsp. kosher salt


In a pot of rapidly boiling water, blanch the onions for about 30 seconds, drain and allow to cool. Slip off the skins and put into a large, clean jar or several smaller glass jars. Add the cloves, thyme and bay leaves to the onions.

In a medium saucepan stir together 2 cups water, vinegar, sugar and salt; set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Pour the brine over the onions. Cool and cover, then refrigerate. Allow about 2 to 3 days for the onions to pickle before serving.

Originally Published by The Star Tribune

Cardamom Pear Jam

Pallas Erdrich

Keep those pears for later with sauce, butter and chutney

Makes about 4 half-pint (8 ounce) jars

2 pounds ripe pears, cored but not peeled and finely diced, about 6 cups

1 cup cane sugar

¼ cup water

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon ground cardamom 

Put the pears, sugar, water, lemon juice and cardamom into a shallow sauté pan and set over medium heat. Bring to a gentle boil, lower heat, and cook, uncovered, until most of the liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, about 25 minutes. 

Ladle the jam into clean, hot jars and add the lids, remembering to leave ½ inch headroom. Wipe the rims and screw on the bands so that they’re finger tight. Allow the jars to cool completely before storing in the refrigerator or freezer. Tighten the bands before storing.

Herb-Roasted Garlic and Shallots

Pallas Erdrich

For extra flavor, roast the garlic and shallots

Mette Nielsen

Mette Nielsen

The mellower taste comes from a long, slow turn in the oven. 

Garlic and shallots are the backbone of a good sauce, soup, casserole and stew, adding substantial flavors that permeate the entire dish. And, given a chance, these ancient vegetables shine on their own when roasted with a little oil and a lot of herbs. That snappy flavor of fresh bulbs, whose bite is essential to salads and vinaigrettes, mellows and sweetens with low, slow heat as the garlic and shallots turn golden and silky.

When roasting them, it’s best to use the freshest bulb. Both the hard neck garlic (large, spicy cloves) and the soft neck (smaller, milder cloves) grow well in our region. Our local shallots are fat, juicy and mild, easy to handle and they make a fine match. When snugged together in the roasting pan, the more assertive garlic and sweet, mild shallot strike a nice balance. But you can choose to roast just one or the other.

This dish is terrific served as a side to roast beef, grilled pork chops or roast chicken. Or, purée the cloves and serve atop pizza or polenta; toss it with pasta, or stir it into rice.

The purée is also delicious whisked into cream cheese or chèvre to spread on bruschetta or sandwiches. Swirl it into sour cream, Greek yogurt, or hummus for a dip. Add a spoonful or two to boost soups, stews and sauces.

This recipe is easily doubled, keeps for a week and freezes beautifully. The roasty scents of these humble bulbs stir late fall hunger and promise good things soon to come.

Recipe: Herb-Roasted Garlic and Shallots

Serves 6 to 8.

Note: Straightforward and easy, this recipe yields magnificent results. You can choose to roast just the garlic or the shallots by themselves, but they are especially delicious when roasted together. The puréed garlic will keep several days, covered, in the refrigerator. From Beth Dooley.

• 5 to 6 heads garlic, cut in half horizontally

• 2 medium shallots, cloves, cut in half horizontally

• 1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves

• 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Arrange the garlic and shallots cut side up in baking pan or ovenproof dish. Sprinkle the thyme over the garlic and shallots, drizzle with the oil, and lightly season with the salt and pepper. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until the cloves are very soft, about 30 to 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue roasting until the cloves are golden, another 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the size of the cloves.

To serve, present the whole garlic halves and shallots in their skin on a serving plate. Or, squeeze the garlic and shallots from the heads into a food processor fitted with steel blade and purée.

Use on the side of meats, or purée and serve atop pizza, polenta or pasta, or stirred into rice. Also good whisked into cream cheese or chèvre and spread on bruschetta or sandwiches. A spoonful or two boosts soups, stews and sauces.