The chemistry of cooking always amazes me, but nowhere is it better exemplified than when I cook with onions. Something about using heat and maybe a little oil to begin to break down the sugars in this lowly little allium brings people wandering into the kitchen, saying things like, “Smells good, what are you making?” Even though all you’re doing is sautéeing an onion.
A few weeks ago I wrote about some beautiful cipollini onions that I found at the farmer’s market on a day where the produce seemed particularly uninspiring.
Today I found what was left of them, looking a bit forlorn at the bottom of what Chuck calls our “root vegetable basket”. They were a little less inspiring this time around, but I needed something for lunch.
I peeled the onions, tossed with a little olive oil, sea salt, and rosemary, and roasted them until they caramelized and turned crispy in parts, thinking I would eat some with bread for a simple lunch.
But we had no bread. In the Yellow House, when we don’t have bread and we’re not feeling very patient, we make flatbread. We do this even when we probably shouldn’t, subbing in flatbread when we should definitely be using a big crusty, chewy loaf of bread, like for serving with a plate of salted-and-seasoned olive oil as an appetizer, or for sandwiches. It happens. It happened again today. It’s fast. I was hungry.
I spread some of the warm flatbreads with goat cheese, took the cipollinis out of the oven, and smashed one onto the flatbread with a sprinkle of rosemary. Cipollinis are even sweeter than normal onions when roasted—they’re known as the onion-hater’s onion—and the contrast is just fantastic with the chèvre. You can make these for lunch or hors d’oeuvres. But don’t be surprised when, a few minutes after you put your cipollinis in to roast, someone walks sniffing into the kitchen to ask what you’re cooking up.
Flatbread crostini with cipollini onions & chèvre
When you peel the cipollinis, don’t completely cut off the stubs on the bottom, as these help to hold the onion together while roasting. It will get so tender that you won’t even notice it when you eat it.
You will need
8-10 cipollini onions, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
Several sprigs rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
A few pinches sea salt
1 1/2 cups flour (here, I used 1 cup whole wheat and 1/2 cup all-purpose white)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup warm water
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix together all flatbread dry ingredients. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Slowly add water, stirring with a fork until just wet and sticking together in a ball (you may not use all the water). Set aside to rest.
Toss peeled cipollini onions in olive oil, rosemary, and sea salt. Place in a roasting pan (I find that metal pans work best for roasting root veggies; for some reason, glass or ceramic never brown as well) and, when oven is heated, place in oven on middle rack. Roast, turning every 10 minutes or so, until unevenly caramelized and crispy on the outside, but tender inside.
Meanwhile, heat cast iron (or other heavy bottomed) skillet with 1 tablespoon olive oil until very hot. Take a small piece of dough—about the size of a shooter marble—and roll into a ball. Flatten with your hands on the counter or a baking sheet into a ~3-4 inch round. Make it thinner than you think it should be. Put these rounds on the hot hot skillet, and flip when they begin to blister or brown in places. Don’t overcook your flatbreads.
To assemble, spread chèvre onto a flatbread. Place one roasted cippolini on top, squish it down, and spread it out. Sprinkle with rosemary.