Saturday, April 4, 2009

Crunchy Cornmeal with Caramelized Onions

This was my first time cooking with cornmeal. With how simple and tasty it was, it surely won't be my last. For this recipe, it literally comes down to a little measuring, some stirring, chopping of onions, and the rest of the time is spent in your oven, forming a delectably crunchy crust. If you're a fan of sweet, caramelized onions (like myself), this is your meal. The best way I can describe this dish is that of a cornmeal cake. One baked with soft, sweet, browning onions, and Parmesan, topped with both after coming out of the oven. If you let it cool, you can get slices and serve them alongside a salad, as I did, or dunk them in a chunky vegetable soup, or some chili if you're looking to go down the real filling road. I was also pleasantly surprised with how good the leftovers were. I crumbled mine on top of a salad the next day with a drizzling of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and it was quite tasty. I'd imagine it'd be great just thrown onto a skillet though to reheat with the addition of veggies such as kale, spinach or zucchini.

Crunchy Cornmeal with Caramelized Onions
(Courtesy of 101 Cookbooks)


- 1 1/2 cups (medium grind) cornmeal
- fine grain sea salt
- 4 cups yellow onion, chopped (about 3 medium)
- 1/4 cup olive oil

- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- 3 cups water or vegetable broth

Preheat the oven to 400*F. Butter and flour (or line bottom with parchment paper) one 9 x 12-inch baking dish or tart pan - or roughly this size.

In a medium bowl combine the corn meal with 1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir and set aside.

To caramelize the onions, heat a splash of olive oil in a large skillet. Cook over medium-high to high heat, stirring and scraping the pan occasionally - more often as the onions begin to get increasingly brown. Continue cooking until the onions collapse and turn deep brown in color. Remove from skillet and set aside.Bring 1 1/2 cups water (or broth) to a boil in a medium saucepan, add the water and cornmeal mixture, bring back up to a boil and stir until it is thicker and heavy - about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese and 2/3 of the onions. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan, spreading it to an even thickness, and drizzle with about 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the bottom is golden and the cornmeal begins to pull away from the sides of the pan a bit. Serve topped with the remaining onions (and more grated cheese if you like).

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