It began with an episode of No Reservations, and seeing Anthony Bourdain travel to Spain. (This link will take you to the video clip.) While he was in Spain, he spent some time at some one’s house where they were picking large green onions. They proceeded to take the onions, char them, wrap them in paper to steam, and then they ate them simply, declaring their love for this tradition and how delicious the onions were. That portion of the episode really stuck in my mind because it was so basic, so simple, but it obviously was so delicious.
Fast forward to this weekend and a trip to the market. (Wagner’s Market in Black Creek for you locals- go now! They have tons of fantastic produce!) There was a massive pile of large green onions priced at 10 cents a piece. I looked at these onions and instantly was transported to Spain, and I knew we had to try it. Andy was game for the idea, even though he hadn’t seen the episode with me, so we picked up six of the onions, thinking that would be plenty for us.
Andy was in charge of the grilling. He used the gas grill and cooked the onions until they were charred on the outside. It wasn’t totally high heat, but the grill was going pretty good. Once they were nicely blackened, we took them off the grill and wrapped them up in newspaper to steam themselves. We let this sit for about 10-15 minutes on the counter while we did other things. I decided at the last minute to make a little dip, and combined mayo, smoked paprika and lemon juice for a quick smoky dipping sauce. When the time came, we unwrapped the newspaper and simply stared at these charred onions for a minute. Would this really be good?
We slipped off the outside of the onions, removing the char and revealing a soft green onion. Slowly, I braved ahead and took the first bite, and it was an explosion of flavor. My goodness, yes, this was seriously one of the best things I have ever put in my mouth. The next bite I dunked in my smoked paprika mayo, and the flavors went together perfectly. The onion was sweet and juicy, just a touch grassy, and just a touch smoky. The burst of lemon in the mayo perfectly cut through the smoke flavors and just made these charred onions heaven. It took us no time at all to go through those six onions, and as we glimpsed the empty newspaper, we both knew that we had just discovered something special. We’re hoping to re-create the same next weekend,but also know that in the growing season, nothing is certain, and next week the onions could be but a memory.
But oh, do we have a memory! It certainly makes me wonder about those Spanish onions- could theirs be any better than ours? I may never know, but I do know that we now have a new fantastic way to enjoy the fall harvest. A new way that showcases simplicity, and it as me looking forward to the other flavors of fall and their simplicity. Apples, winter squash, and pumpkins are some of my favorite foods. So while I lament the end of summer and all the frivolity that we partook in, I also embrace the change of seasons and the simplicity of autumn comfort that is forthcoming. Fall is in the air, and I think I’m ready for it.