Monday, November 15, 2010

Herb and Cheese Onion Gratin

Already? I thought I just went to the store? You've been there many times, that familiar situation where you think there can't possibly be anything in the house to eat. No fresh veggies, greens or leftovers in the fridge, nothing but a freezer full of various animal parts and frozen meals, beer mugs and ice cubes. That's not the quick nibble you were hunting for.

Just like this dish and this pie, this gratin is assembled from pantry items that are always happy to be tossed together at one end and come out as a meal at the other.

Like most recipes, you can substitute dried herbs for fresh, although you should try for the latter as often as you can. You can find them cheap at places like this. You can't really overbuy, as you can dry any unused fresh herb to replenish your stash. Or you can grow your own- the rosemary in the garden is always the last to succumb to these increasingly cold fall nights, at least for my garden in the Midwest. The basil was the first to bow out to the cold, the resulting harvest has produced a hibernating bear's worth of pesto, which is pretty damn exciting.

In true ode to the scouring-the-cupboards-for-ingredients fashion, use whatever herbs and cheeses you have, it's like Gumby, which is to say very flexible.

This makes a tasty snack on its own or will go nicely with a grilled steak or roasted chicken.

Herb and Cheese Onion Gratin
four servings

3 large vidalia onions, sliced 1/3" thick
2 TB EVOO or veggie, canola
1 TB chopped fresh rosemary (or 1 ts dry)
2 ts fresh thyme, minced (1/2 ts dry)
S&P
3 TB mayo
2 ts fresh lemon juice
1/2 ts dijon mustard
1/2 C mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 TB blue cheese, crumbled
2 TB Parmigiano-reggiano or pecorino-romano (not that nasty shit in the green can that was grated in 2007)
Black pepper
Hot Sauce, optional

Fire up the hotbox to four fitty. Coat a large sheet pan with spray or oil it up. Lay the onion slices out evenly, rub with oil. Sprinkle the herbs over, then a bit of S&P. Roast the onions for about 15 minutes, they will have become nicely softened. While doing that, make the topping-

In a small bowl combine the mayo, lemon juice, mustard, cheeses and black pepper. Stir until combined, it will be lumpy and that's okay. Coat a large glass casserole dish with spray or oil/butter. Lay out the onion slices into the casserole and then top with the cheese mixture, spreading sort of evenly with a spatula, it doesn't have to be perfect. You will probably bake for about 25 minutes, but check on the browning after about 20. Bake until top is golden brown and all delicious. Serve immediately. Enjoy very much.

Slice and toast a baguette, rub one side with a split clove of garlic while hot, then top with the gratin. A glass of pinot noir or cotes du rhone would pair nicely, don't you think? And you thought there's wasn't anything in the house to eat....

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