Friday, May 20, 2011

Zucchini & Vidalia Onions

Vidalia onions are one of the gifts of summer.  I love them.  They are everything an onion should be, which is sweet, flavorful and distinctly onion-y.

Vidalia onions are special because they are only grown in certain areas of Georgia. Areas defined by federal law.  That's serious business.  Georgians are serious about their onions, and that's only one reason why I like Georgia.

Vidalia onions are only available during the late spring and summer, so I eat them all I can while I can. And pairing the onions with tender, young, inexpensive zucchini is a great way to go.  Barefoot Contessa inspired my take on this recipe.  She said that she wrote the recipe as a new and different way to eat the zucchini that growing in her garden.  I eat this because I love to eat Vidalia onions.  It's a simple dish: sauteed onions, garlic and zucchini flavored simply with salt and pepper and finished with Parmesan.  I added the garlic because in my world, where there are onions, there must be garlic.  This dish needs nothing further simply because the star - our Vidalia - adds so much wonderful sweetness and the salty Parm is the perfect finish.

You want to slice the Vidalia. I find that a good ratio is one large Vidalia onion to three smallish zucchini is about right.

So cut the onion in half and then slice each half into half-moons. Do the same for the zucchini: trim both ends, slice it longways, then slice it across to make small half-moon shapes.

Throw some butter and olive oil into a skillet and let it melt and mingle. Be sure to use both kinds of fat because you want the flavor of the butter (butter + onions = heavenly) and the higher cooking temperature of the oil (so the butter doesn't burn). Toss in the onions and cook them on medium heat for about 8 minutes. Don't salt them yet. Salt draws out the moisture in the onions and will make them steam instead of saute. The longer you cook onions, the sweeter they get.

Okay, now we're ready for the garlic and zucchini. You want the zucchini to rest directly on the pan as much as possible so it will take on a nice brown color.

This part will take about another 15 minutes. Toss everything around occasionally so the zucchini browns evenly on both sides.

Almost there.

When it's done, sprinkle a little salt, pepper and parmesan cheese on top. Not too much salt since the parm is salty. But be generous with the pepper. I like pepper.

I know onions and pepper are strange things to like so much. I'm sort of strange about food.

Make this side dish this summer. I'll be making it every week at least. Great with grilled fish, chicken and pork.

Zucchini & Vidalia Onions
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa

1 T olive oil
1 T butter
1 large Vidalia onion, cut in half and sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 smallish zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced across
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Melt the olive oil and butter in a pan on medium heat. Add the onions and saute 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and zucchini and saute another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the onions are caramelized and the zucchini is tender and browned, remove from the heat and stir in the salt and pepper. Sprinkle the parmesan over the top and serve immediately. This is enough for 4 people as a side dish.

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