Roasted Cipollini Onions and Tomatoes = Who Knew? Blanching Onions is NOT Brain Surgery

Had I let the words “blanche the onions” stop me, MG and I never would have feasted on roasted tomatoes and cipollini onions Sunday night.

I found the recipe at Smitten Kitchen and the food looked unbelievably delicious. “Could I make something that looks that unbelievably delicious?” I said to myself. “I don’t know,” myself replied, “give it a shot.” So I continue reading and get to the line that says “blanch the onions.” I stop and say to myself, “But I don’t know how to blanch onions,” and myself says back, “You sure don’t. You barely know how to put oil in your car. You’re afraid of the pilot light. You look the other way when you turn on a fan. You think you’re going to be able to pull off something called blanching? It’s certainly far more complicated than anything you’ve ever tried in your lifetime. It’s got to be a supremely delicate and complicated procedure to deserve such a cagey name… blaaaanccchiiinnnng.. it probably involves things like parchment paper, special tongs and maybe a surgical mask. Stick to Lean Cuisines, Cooter.”

Myself is mean to me

If you know what blanching means, you can skip the next few lines. Turns out blanching means…

Wait for it..

It’s coming…

Blanching means…

… nothing more than dumping the onions in hot water for one minute…

…and then scooping them out and plunging them into cold water for another minute.

That’s it.

That’s blanching.

What did kitchen cowards like me do before being able to simply google their culinary curiosities away?

Not only is blanching simple, it’s the easiest way in the world to peel tiny little onions like cipollinis and pearls. The peel just drips right off! And you get your first whiff of how sweet and tasty those onions are going to cook up for you.

Pronounced chip-oh-LEE-nee, they’re slightly yellow, thin and more sugar-retaining than their larger tear-jerker siblings. And because they’re smaller, and generally flatter, they’re much friendlier to the roasting process. I read that they might be difficult to locate, but my Rock ‘n Roll Ralphs on Sunset Blvd. had barrels of them. And once you clear the blanching hurdle, this is one of the easiest recipes you’ll ever try.

Here’s what you need:

  • a pound of cipollini onions
  • a pound of small Roma and/or cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • a few pinches of salt
  • 4 slices of ciabatta bread, one-inch thick
  • 1 15 oz can of white beans
  • basil

Preheat the oven to 375 (my cheap roasting pan may have been the reason I ultimately turned the heat up midway through the process to 425. Once you’ve blanched the onions, dump them into the pan with the tomatoes, the olive oil, salt and the basil. Mix it up so the onions and veggies are thoroughly saturated.

Cook for 45 minutes (I went an hour fifteen – again… lousy roasting pan), and roll the tomatoes and onions around every 15 minutes to make sure all the sides blister.

Drop the bread into the oven about 5 minutes before you’re ready to eat to crisp it, then pull it out, cover it with the drained white beans and pour all the contents of your roasting pan on top of that. Drain the hell out of the pan to get all the juices that formed in it onto your plate. You’ll thank me later!

Well worth the hand-wringing blanching drama. MG polished his off, I polished mine off, and myself reluctantly said to me, “Way to step up, Cooter!”

Someday I’ll ask myself why it’s so stingy with the compliments. And why it calls me “Cooter.”

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3 thoughts on “Roasted Cipollini Onions and Tomatoes = Who Knew? Blanching Onions is NOT Brain Surgery

  • September 16, 2009 at 5:44 pm
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    Okay…when did you start this blog? I love it? And truly, we are of the same cloth…I thought “Blanching” was saying something in sexually in appropriate to a senior citizen…i.e. “Dorothy began “Blanching” about Rose’s dead husband.”

    If I had been electrocuted by a fan I would be afraid too.. .. By any chance…are you afraid to turn on wall heaters??? Just wondering…no reason.

    I like the whole “almost homemade” concept. If you learn to cook and Jodi knows how to cook, and Gregg….Gregg…well, Gregg has the whole kids and professional sports…where does that leave me??? You can’t learn how to cook! Not now, not this late in our lives? Now I am going to have to learn to oil paint, or sculpt…or…or climb Mt. Everest! I hate you !!!

  • January 12, 2010 at 1:27 am
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    Thanks for the explanation.

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