Roast Chrysanthemum Onions

Onions are amazing vegetables--not only are they versatile in that they can be used in a variety of ways when cooking, whether to add flavor to something, as part of a base or stock, as seasoning, or even eaten on their own--but they also have many health-boosting attributes, including cold and flu-fighting properties.

Below is one of my all-time favorite recipes. I first had these at my mother-in-law's because they are also a family favorite--she then shared the recipe with me, although I am not sure of its origin--it is either from one of her cookbooks or an issue of Gourmet magazine. She told me these were easy to make, and at first I did not believe her because they tasted so good and she is an amazing cook who finds many things "easy" that others would find more difficult. But I was happy to discover that she was right--these are quite easy to make after all, and I love dishes that require minimal output for maximum flavor.

These onions make a wonderful side accompaniment to any meal, and they can be made a day ahead and re-heated if that is more convenient. The recipe calls for 16 small yellow onions, but I have even made this recipe with half that amount of larger-sized onions and they have turned out yummy too. It's a great way to use up a bag of onions if you realize you bought too many and you don't know what to do with them all.

Preheat the oven to 450° and then trim the root end of each onion so that it is flat but still intact and will stand on its end. Then, stand each onion on its root end and cut parallel vertical slices at 1/4 inch intervals into but not through the onion, stopping about 3/4 inch above the root end. Rotate each onion 90 degrees and cut parallel vertical slices in the same way to form a crosshatch pattern, while keeping the onions intact.

Spray a shallow baking dish with nonstick spray and place the onions, root ends down, far enough apart to let the onions open or "flower." Pour 1/4 cup vegetable broth over the onions, and sprinkle with little pinches of sugar, using about 1 teaspoon total. The recipe also calls for pouring 3 tablespoons melted vegan margarine over the onions, but you could also put little dabs of margarine on top of the onions, which will melt down into the onions during the cooking process, or omit the margarine entirely for a healthier version that is still really tasty.

Cover the onions with foil and roast in middle of the oven for 45 minutes, or until tender. Then remove the foil and roast the onions, basting occasionally, 30 to 45 minutes more, on until golden. Ideally they will open up into little onion flowers that are quite pretty to look at.

Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of the little ones I recently made that looked quite lovely, so featured in my photos here are some larger ones that did not quite open but still melted in our mouths nonetheless. This is a great dish when you want to add a little something extra to your dinner, and it tastes so wonderful that the added nutritional benefits are just a bonus that you won't even think about.