Radicchio with Caramelised Red Onions and Lemon Thyme

by meike peters

Radicchio with Caramelised Red Onions + Thyme

In the past few days I’ve had caramelised onions on my mind, sweet and syrupy, preferably the red ones or shallots which taste softer and reveal an intense natural sweetness when they are cooked. There is a big bowl in my kitchen which is always filled with onions. I like to have the whole range at hand, red, yellow, white, big and small, but most of the time I use the spicy yellow bulbs, mine are medium sized and organic, they bring tears to my eyes as soon as the knife touches the peel. They are great too cook with but painful to prepare! A few shallots are in the bowl as well and red onions of course which I love to use for pies or in salads, which rarely happens as I’m not too fond of raw onions.

I have a beautiful head of radicchio in my fridge just waiting to be used, the big leaves falling over its sides like a ball gown, almost too perfect to destroy! But I must, I want to combine its bitterness with the sweetness of caramelised red onions and some lemon thyme. The radicchio is uncooked but the onions caramelise in sugary butter, softening over less than 15 minutes before I deglaze their juices with dark Balsamico vinegar. The result is delicious, a salad of bitter sweet flavours glazed in a thick sweet and sour dressing!

Radicchio with Caramelised Red Onions + Thyme

 A Salad of Radicchio, Caramelised Red Onions and Lemon Thyme

For a side dish for 2 you need

radicchio, torn into bite sized pieces, 4 big leaves
medium sized red onions, each cut into 8 pieces (lengthwise), 2
butter 3 tablespoons
sugar 2 tablespoons
Balsamico vinegar 2 tablespoons
olive oil 4 tablespoons
lemon thyme, 10 young and soft sprigs chopped roughly or just the leaves
salt and black pepper

In a large pan, heat up 1 tablespoon of oil together with the butter and sugar on medium temperature. As soon as the butter starts to sizzle add the onions, stir once in a while. Let the onions soften over 10 minutes, they can become a bit dark but shouldn’t burn as that would make them bitter. When the onions are soft, caramelised and have turned a dark red, season with salt and pepper and take them out keeping their caramel juices in the pan. Deglaze the bits and pieces left in the pan with the Balsamico, put on medium heat for a few seconds and mix it so that just a little of the vinegar evaporates. Take it off the heat, pour the liquid into a bowl, whisk with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

On big plates, arrange the radicchio with the caramelised onions on top, carefully as they are very soft, sprinkle with some salt and pepper and add the thyme. Drizzle the thick dressing over the leaves, it’s so strong that a few drops are enough to spread the sweet flavours.

Radicchio with Caramelised Red Onions + Thyme