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Turmeric Pesto and Other Ways to Brighten January

Who would have guessed? Fresh turmeric is a revelation! The boring yellow powder that mostly gives color to curry powder is actually a mouth-popping, I-can’t-stop-eating-this, delicious flavor when eaten fresh (the difference between powdered ginger and fresh ginger root, only more so…). And it can grow in North Carolina!!

hawaiian red turmeric (grown by biker dude)

hawaiian red turmeric (grown by biker dude)

I was very excited when a friend from Brasstown, NC, visited and brought a jar of her homemade turmeric pesto made with fresh turmeric grown in Clay County on Qualla Berry Farm. Turmeric (Zingiberaeae Curcuma longa) is a member of the ginger family and is known as “Indian saffron” because of its brilliant orange color. John Clarke and Karen Hurtubise grow both ginger and turmeric in a large hoophouse, harvest in October and November, and sell the fresh rhizomes at farmers’ markets as well as from their own farm. They advise that the rhizomes may be stored in a warm, dry, dark place for up to three weeks or sealed in zip-lock bags to store in the freezer for a year-long supply. Contact www.quallaberryfarm.com for more information.

Qualla Berry Farm Turmeric

The fresh turmeric pesto is amazing. Can something have a yellow flavor? The flavor is sharp and earthy and somehow lets you know that it is sending good energy to all the cells of your body. I have been using turmeric powder for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and healing properties, but it is so much more fun to eat the vibrant fresh rhizomes. It’s like adding a burst of sunshine to your food.

My Thai cookbook by Su Mei Yu says that fresh orange turmeric is used for its color, aroma, sweet crunchy texture, and peppery taste. When fresh turmeric isn’t available, Yu suggests substituting 1 Tbs grated carrot, 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger, and 1/2 tsp turmeric powder for 1 Tbs minced fresh turmeric. This gives you an idea of the taste—a rather subtle, wild carrot flavor with hints of black pepper and the woods. I didn’t want to substitute; I ordered some from Qualla Berry Farm right away.

turmeric grown at Qualla Berry Farm

turmeric grown at Qualla Berry Farm

When my order of fresh turmeric arrived , I cut some up into matchsticks and started eating. The fresh flavor is not just yellow, it is orange…like some crazy carrot. The rhizomes are easy to grate or slice and can be used raw to garnish or add to dishes for maximum color and texture impact… or pound into spice pastes or add with other aromatics like ginger, garlic, and fresh chiles to stir-fries or curry. Use minced fresh turmeric in soups, dips (try it in hummous, Romesco sauce, or mixed into yogurt or goat cheese), rice and other grain pilafs, vegetable or meat braises, lentils or beans, eggs…. or make tea.

Turmeric Infusion

This recipe for fresh turmeric tea is from Qualla Berry Farm. The addition of black pepper enhances the medicinal properties of turmeric by making its healing components more easily absorbed.

Ingredients: 2 oz fresh turmeric, 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, 2 quarts water

Chop or grate the fresh turmeric. Coarsely grind the peppercorns with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Bring the water to a boil and pour over the turmeric and pepper in a glass or ceramic pitcher. Allow to steep overnight or until cool. Strain into glass jars and store in the refrigerator. Strained out turmeric may be used in cooking.

Add fresh lemon juice or honey to taste. Some people enjoy hot turmeric tea with milk.

Carla’s Spice Paste

Carla Owen of Murphy, NC, provided this recipe for the growers at Qualla Berry Farm. This is a generous amount that should keep you in turmeric heaven for a while. Carla advises to eat some every day…in any dish. You can use it as a condiment, stir it into slow-cooked stews or braises near the end of cooking, or add a bit to the oil before a quick-cooked stir-fry or sauté.

Ingredients: 1 lb fresh turmeric, 1/4 lb peeled fresh ginger (or fresh ginger in season), 1-6 oz peeled garlic cloves to suit your taste, zest and juice of 2 organic lemons, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 cup olive oil

Put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until you get the consistency you want. Add salt if you like and adjust quantities to your own taste. Store in glass jars topped with olive oil in the refrigerator.

Turmeric Pesto

Turmeric Pesto

The pesto made by our friend Linda is a simplified version of Carla’s Spice Paste. It has a beautiful pale yellow color and subtle flavor. I loved it so much I ate it by the spoonful, spread it on toast and tortillas, and put it in everything until it was gone.

Ingredients: roughly equal parts fresh turmeric rhizomes and peeled garlic cloves—let’s say 4 oz of each, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 1/4 cup olive or sunflower oil, sea salt, fresh lemon juice

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to make a rough or smooth puree, as you wish. Add lemon juice and salt to taste.

Turmeric Pesto II

Turmeric Pesto II

I ran out of Linda’s pesto very quickly, so I had to make my own. I didn’t have any fresh turmeric rhizomes yet, but I did have a big jar of pickled fresh turmeric from India. It is pretty much just shreds of fresh turmeric in a salty brine, so I gave it a try. It was delicious, but on the salty side, so I mellowed it out with roasted red pepper. The color is even more joyful.

Ingredients: 1/2 cup pickled fresh turmeric, 1/2 cup peeled garlic cloves, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 or 2 roasted red peppers (canned are fine)

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to a rough or smooth puree. Enjoy!

Chershi Kara’a

Chershi are piquant condiments from the culinary traditions of the Jewish community of Tripoli, Libya. I learned this from Jerusalem a Cookbook, by Yotam Ottalenghi and Sami Tamimi. They made mention of a crushed pumpkin salad—chershi kara’a, which sounded like it could only be more delicious with an addition of turmeric pesto. Roasted winter squash chershi is traditional; I used wedges of roasted sweet potato.

Ingredients: 3 Tbs olive or sunflower oil, 1 large sweet potato ( 12 to 16 oz), 1 large white onion (1 1/2 cups finely chopped), 1 Tbs harissa, 2 Tbs turmeric pesto or spice paste, 1/2 tsp toasted and ground cumin seed, 1/2 tsp toasted and ground coriander seed, 2 Tbs fresh lemon juice, 1 cup chopped parsley leaves, salt

Peel the sweet potato and cut it into 3/4-inch wedges or chunks. Toss with 1 1/2 Tbs oil and sprinkle with coarse salt. Spread on a baking sheet and roast in a 400 degree oven for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until crusty brown outside and tender inside. Turn halfway through. Heat the other 1 1/2 Tbs oil in a skillet and cook the onion over medium heat until golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Scrape the onions into a bowl and stir in the harissa, turmeric pesto, cumin and caraway. Chop the roasted sweet potato into bite-size pieces and combine with the onion mixture. Add the parsley and lemon juice and toss to combine. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Allow the flavors to meld 1/2 hour or more before serving.

Turmeric Turkey Meatballs in Thai Curry Broth

Ingredients: 1 lb ground turkey or chicken (dark meat), 1/2 cup finely chopped onion, 1 large free-range egg, 2 Tbs chopped mint, 2 Tbs chopped cilantro, 2 Tbs grated fresh turmeric, 1 Tbs finely chopped garlic, 1/2 tsp freshly ground white or black pepper, 1 tsp toasted and ground cumin, 1 tsp toasted and ground coriander, 1 tsp salt, 2 Tbs sunflower or peanut oil for searing

Broth: 1/2 cup coconut milk, 2 tsp Thai curry paste, 2 thinly sliced shallots, 1 cup low-salt chicken broth, juice of 1 lime (about 1 1/2 Tbs), 2 tsp raw cane sugar, 2 tsp fish sauce, 1 cup grated carrot, fresh cilantro or mint leaves for garnish

Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl. Mix gently with your hands. Shape the mixture into about 16 balls. Heat 1 1/2 Tbs oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add half the meatballs to the pan and sear on all sides, about 4 minutes total. Remove to a plate and sear the second batch, adding oil if needed.

Use the same pan to make the broth. Add the coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Whisk in the curry paste and cook 1 or 2 minutes. Add the shallots and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the lime juice, sugar, fish sauce and reduce to a simmer. Return the meatballs to the pan, cover, and cook over low heat 15 minutes, or until cooked through. Stir in the carrots and sprinkle the top with fresh herbs before serving.

Turmeric Sambal

The perfect condiment/salad to accompany meatballs, especially if you eat them with rice or wrapped in a tortilla. This is an adaptation of a Chris Schlesinger-John Willoughby recipe, “Sambal in the style of Java.” If you have a stash of turmeric pesto or spice paste, you can jump-start the dressing. Best eaten freshly made.

Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups finely sliced or shredded green cabbage, 1 1/2 cups grated or matchstick-cut carrots, 1/2 cup bean sprouts, 1 Tbs minced fresh turmeric, 1/4 cup toasted and chopped peanuts or cashews

Dressing: 1 Tbs minced ginger, 1 Tbs minced fresh turmeric, 1 Tbs minced fresh chile, 2 tsp minced garlic, 1 tsp shrimp paste or 2 tsp fish sauce, 1 1/2 Tbs toasted and cracked coriander seeds, 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, 2 Tbs palm sugar or Mexican cane sugar, 2 Tbs soy sauce, 1 Tbs pomegranate molasses, 1/4 cup peanut or sunflower oil

In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, carrots, and bean sprouts. Use a whisk or blender to combine all the dressing ingredients. Adjust the seasonings to balance the flavors—hot, sweet, salty, and sour. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and mix well. Allow to sit 10 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle with minced turmeric and toasted nuts before serving.

Fresh Cut Turmeric

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Looking for Spring–a Green Lunch for Happiness

fern

I have never been so ready to see spring come after this bitter winter. I planted early seeds in the garden, and when they didn’t come up fast enough I planted more…and more. Now the garden beds are a jumble of tiny seedlings. I promise them I will sort it all out.

Meanwhile I am foraging for the first intrepid plants of the season–wild and cultivated: tiny dark green spikes of chives, crinkled mint leaves, shocking-green sorrel, fragrant chervil, lacy arugula… tender nettles, ramps, and cat-briar leaves from the woods…and abundant watercress from the branch. High above us on the ridge tops the trees are barely leafing out, but spring is happening from the ground up. The forest floor is covered with wildflowers, and lively flavors from deep green leaves are there to be gathered if you know where to look.

Ramps

Looking is half the fun. You have to walk carefully in the spring woods because there are so many little plants uncurling from their winter’s sleep. Wild iris and geranium, trillium, Solomon’s Seal, blood root, phlox, rue anemone, trout lily, bellwort…all mixed in with red-tinged poison ivy leaves, stately cohosh, fairy kingdoms of moss, and tangles of fern fronds. I even found some showy orchis and the newly unfolded leaves of ginseng.

Two Shades of Orange Salad

beets

Golden beets (found in miraculously good shape after hibernating in the vegetable bin of the refrigerator all winter!) and oranges provide the two shades of orange for this salad–a riff on a Moroccan ” two shades of red salad” made with beets and tomatoes, found in the cookbook Flatbreads and Flavors by Alford and Duguid. The salad also borrows from the orange and beet salsa from Jerusalem, the cookbook.

Ingredients: 2 medium golden beets, 1 orange, 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion, 1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives, 1/4 cup chopped parsley, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, 1/4 cup chopped chives, 2 Tbs chopped fresh mint leaves, 3/4 tsp coriander seed, 3/4 tsp cumin seed, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp red chile flakes, 1 garlic clove, 2 to 3 Tbs fresh lemon juice, 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil or walnut oil, pinch of sugar, salt and freshly ground black pepper, 2 cups watercress or arugula leaves, 1/4 cup toasted walnuts

Place the beets in a saucepan, cover with plenty of water, and bring to a boil. Partially cover and cook at a low boil for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the beets are easily pierced with a sharp knife. Drain, cool, and peel before cutting into 1/2-inch dice.

Peel the orange and remove all the pith and seeds. Slice the orange about 1/4-inch thick. Separate the slices into segments, removing tough connective membranes. Add the orange pieces and their juice to the diced beets, along with the onion, chopped olives, and herbs.

Toast and grind the coriander and cumin seeds in a mortar and pestle. Add the paprika and chile. Add the peeled garlic clove and pound to a paste with 1/4 tsp salt. Whisk in the lemon juice and oil. Pour the dressing over the beet mixture. Toss gently and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the salad on top of a shallow bowl of watercress or arugula leaves and sprinkle with walnuts.

Chickpea Soup with Watercress and Wild Greens

Nettles

Mild-flavored chickpeas combine well with deep green-flavors of a wide variety of greens including spinach, chard, and kale, as well as foraged greens like nettles, lambs quarters, and coneflower. Watercress adds a welcome bite, and the North African spice blend ras el hanout adds spicy fragrance.

Ingredients: 2 1/2 Tbs olive oil, 1 thinly sliced large onion, 1 Tbs finely chopped garlic, 2 Tbs finely chopped ginger, 2 cups cooked chickpeas, 2 cups vegetable broth or chickpea cooking liquid, 4 cups chopped greens (about 5 oz), 6 cups watercress leaves (6 to 7 oz), 2 tsp ras el hanout, 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, salt, lemon wedges

Warm the olive oil with the onion in a Dutch oven or other soup pot over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is completely soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook about 1 minute. Stir in the ras el hanout, cinnamon, chickpeas, and broth and bring to a low boil. Add the chopped greens and watercress and simmer until the leaves are wilted and tender, 1 to 2 minutes.

Use a blender or food processor to blend the soup to a smooth puree. Return to the pot to reheat. Season with salt to taste. Serve with lemon wedges and thick yogurt.

Fava Bean Pesto with Sorrel

Sorrel

This is a green salsa/spread for spring…a great topping for bruschetta or crackers. I added frozen edamame from last year’s garden for brighter green color.

Ingredients: 1 cup peeled fresh fava beans, 1/2 cup shelled edamame, 1 large garlic clove, 1/4 tsp kosher or sea salt, 2 Tbs chopped fresh mint leaves, 1/4 cup chopped sorrel leaves, 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice, 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, 2 Tbs Pecorino Romano, freshly ground black pepper

Cook shelled fava beans in salted boiling water until tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain and cool in cold water. Drain again and slip off the outer skin.

Chop the garlic and put it in a mortar with the salt. Mash with the pestle to make a paste. Add the rest of the ingredients gradually and use the mortar and pestle or a food processor to make a chunky, spreadable pesto.

Spring Green Kuku

Dandelion

A kuku is the Iranian version of a frittata, and my Silk Road Cooking book says that a fresh herb kuku is eaten on the spring equinox to symbolize rebirth, fertility and happiness.

Arugula

Ingredients: 6 free-range eggs, 2 Tbs cream, 1 Tbs flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, 3 Tbs olive oil, 1 cup chopped spring onions (including green stems), 1 cup thinly sliced ramp leaves (chives or garlic chives), 3 cups chopped nettle leaves (baby kale or spinach), 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley, 1/4 cup finely chopped chervil (fennel or dill), 2 Tbs chopped fresh mint, 2 Tbs currants or dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Heat 2 Tbs olive oil in a 10-inch oven-proof skillet. Add the onions to the skillet and cook 4 to 5 minutes. Add the ramp leaves or chives and cook 1 minute. Add the greens and cook until just wilted. Stir in the fresh herbs and currants.

Stir the onion-herb mixture into the beaten eggs. Clean the skillet and return it to the heat and add the remaining 1 Tbs olive oil. When hot, pour in the egg mixture and transfer the pan to the oven. Cover and cook 15 minutes. Remove the cover and continue to cook about 5 more minutes, until the eggs are just set.

Cut the kuku in thin slices and eat with bruschetta or flatbread, with a dollop of yogurt sauce.

Yogurt Sauce

Ingredients: 1 cup thick yogurt. 1 finely chopped garlic clove, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper, 2 tsp fresh lemon juice, 2 tsp sumac powder, 1/2 tsp dried mint, 2 Tbs finely sliced chives

Put the garlic and salt in a mortar and mash the garlic to a paste. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine.

Preserving Summer

Preservation Time

October ushers in the change of seasons and the final days of the summer garden. It’s a time of gathering in the late tomatoes, the finally ripening sweet and hot peppers, shiny eggplants, and the plump tomatillos hiding under their sprawling vines. The days are warm and dry, and these fruits seem to hold a whole summer’s worth of goodness. It’s time to capture some of this exuberant flavor to brighten winter days.

Arthur Schartz’s book, The Southern Italian Table, is full of authentic recipes from traditional kitchens. It is especially valuable because the recipes come from a land of farmers, where local produce is celebrated and ingeniously delicious methods are used to preserve garden fresh flavor for the whole year. Schwartz has spent a lot of time with cooks who need to find enticing ways to use an abundance of zucchini, mountains of red peppers, piles of eggplant, and cascades of red onions. When I want to save all the goodness of the late summer garden, I go first to this cookbook to see what the Southern Italians do.

Red Onions

Conserva is what they do. I love the Italian word conserva, a word that brings to mind images of sun-drenched tomatoes and peppers, full of deep flavor and aroma, as well as the long sunny days that concentrate the tastes and smells to store away for winter. In Italy, conserva is a thick paste, traditionally made by drying a vegetable puree on large trays in the sun. The paste is packed into glass jars or crocks, sealed with a layer of olive oil, and stored in a cool stone cellar.

I use the term conserva loosely to include various intensely flavored preparations that can be stored for weeks or months in the refrigerator, freezer, or cold deep cellar.  Conserva can be used as a relish, spread on bruschetta, or added by the spoonful as a “secret ingredient” flavor enhancer to other dishes such as polenta or risotto, soups and stews, or lentils and beans.

Conserva di Pomodori and Conserva di Peperoni

The instructions for making traditional tomato paste and sweet pepper paste are found in Rosetta Constantino’s cookbook, My Calabria. In her grandmother’s day, the women didn’t know about water-bath canning, so they preserved their tomatoes and peppers by cooking them to a thick puree, straining it through a food mill, and adding salt and sun.

I don’t rely on the sun to dry my conserva. Instead, I use a low-temperature oven for slow roasting tomatoes and peppers to get rich, deep, toasty flavor. These vegetables freeze beautifully and can be used for anything from pizza toppings and salads to making a chunky or smooth paste or sauce.

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes (Conserva di pomodori)

Roasted Tomatoes

These are so easy and delicious! I have written about them several times, but they deserve more publicity. The very best batch I have made was slow roasted in the wood-fired oven after baking bread, but a regular oven works fine. I use small plum tomatoes like “Juliet”, as well as paste and large cherry tomatoes. Any dense, meaty tomato (preferably vine ripened) will work.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut small tomatoes in half, larger tomatoes in slices about  1/2-inch thick. Place the cut tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Roll the tomatoes around gently to coat both sides and arrange them in a single layer, cut side up. Season with a little kosher or sea salt. Place in the oven and lower the heat to 225 degrees F. (You can leave the oven at the higher temperature if you are in a hurry, but you have to be watchful). Check on them after 1 1/2 hours and rotate the pans if necessary. Slowly roast the tomatoes until they are wrinkled and starting to brown on the bottoms, but still a little juicy–2 to 5 hours, depending on type and juiciness of the tomatoes.

Slow roasted tomatoes are a great partner for slices of fresh mozzarella and basil leaves, either on crusty bread or topping a pizza. Or, combine them with pancetta, red chile, and parsley to toss with pasta. They are great in tabouleh or couscous, in a frittata, or on a salad of spicy or bitter winter greens. Any extra roasted tomatoes may be slipped into freezer bags and frozen.

Slow-Roasted Sweet Pepper (Conserva di Peperoni)

Roasted Pepper Spread

Succulent and lightly caramelized, roasted sweet peppers are a wonderful treat to store for winter. This is an especially good way to preserve thin-walled roasting peppers. I grew Jimmy Nardello, Corno Rosso, and Big Red sweet peppers this year. Jimmy Nardello was the star for early ripening and being prolific over a long season, though both Corno and Big Red are larger and have thicker-walled fruits. The conserva we ate in Italy was made with celery and onion, as well as peppers; add what you like.

Heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Cut sweet red peppers into 1/2-inch strips (or chunks of equal size), discarding seeds and stems. Cut celery into 1/2-inch dice, and onion into 1/2-inch wedges. Peel garlic cloves, but leave them whole. Toss the strips (and optional additional vegetables) with olive oil to coat all surfaces well. Sprinkle with a little kosher or sea salt and toss again. Spread the peppers on baking sheets or roasting pans. Place the pans in the oven and slowly roast 1 to 1 1/2  hours, until the peppers are soft and the skins are beginning to brown in patches. Times will vary, depending on the thickness of the peppers.

The roasted vegetables may be frozen just as they come out of the oven (think pizza or polenta topping) or they may be chopped in a food processor to make a coarse or smooth paste. I like to add crushed fennel seed and a hot chile or two to my conserva. Store conserva covered by 1/4-inch olive oil in a sterilized and tightly sealed jar in the refrigerator for several weeks, or in the freezer for several months.

 Stuzzico: Eggplant, Red Pepper, and Onion Spread

Spread

The word stuzzico is used to mean “snack,” Arthur Schwartz explains, and this tasty roasted vegetable spread is meant to be served with bruschetta or crostini as an antipasto. The recipe he gives in The Southern Italian Table calls for a generous amount of wine vinegar and olive oil, which help to preserve the spread when stored in the traditional way–in crocks or jars topped with a layer of olive oil, kept in a cold cellar or refrigerator.

My taste for vinegar has declined, so I adapted his recipe to suit my taste buds and find so many ways to eat it that long-term storage isn’t an issue.

Ingredients: 1 1/2 lbs eggplant, 1 1/2 lbs red sweet peppers, 2 medium red onions, 4 to 6 garlic cloves, 1/2 tsp sea salt, 2 Tbs balsamic or wine vinegar (more to taste), 1 tsp red chile flakes (more to taste), 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves, 1/2 cup chopped fennel fronds or flat-leaf parsley, 1 tsp lightly crushed fennel seed, 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano, extra-virgin olive oil

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cut the eggplant into 1-inch cubes, seed the peppers and cut into 1-inch wide strips, cut the onions into 1-inch wide wedges, peel and lightly smash the garlic.  Put the vegetables in a large bowl and drizzle with about 4 Tbs olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and toss to coat well. Scrape the mixture into a large roasting pan. Roast 35 to 45 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the vegetables are tender. While the vegetables are still warm, add the vinegar, chile, and herbs. Allow to cool before using a food processor to chop the stuzzico to a chunky or almost smooth puree, as you prefer.  Season with salt and vinegar to taste. Add olive oil as desired.

Store stuzzico in sterilized jars, topped with 1/4-inch of olive oil in the refrigerator for a week or two. Freeze for longer storage.

 Caramelized Onion Marmalade

Onion Spread

This year I experimented in the onion patch with a stunning Italian red onion “Tropea,” a beautiful heirloom “Ailsa Craig,” and sweet, juicy “Expression.” They grew well and are delicious, but are not destined for long storage. So, I am storing them as “onion marmalade.”

Ingredients: 4 large red or sweet white onions, 2 to 3 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 1/4 tsp kosher or sea salt, 4 tsp sherry or balsamic vinegar, 1 Tbs chopped fresh thyme leaves, freshly ground black pepper, (optional, 1 or 2 whole heads roasted garlic)

Peel the onions and cut them in half lengthwise. Cut them lengthwise into very thin slices. Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sprinkle with salt. Stir well, cover the pan, and reduce the heat to low. After about 5 minutes, uncover the pan and continue to cook slowly, stirring frequently, until the onions are golden brown and very soft, 30 to 40 minutes. Add the vinegar, thyme, pepper, and optional roasted garlic. Stir and cook 1 or 2 more minutes, until the liquid is gone.

Onion marmalade is a delicious topping for bruschetta, focaccia, or polenta. Use it as a condiment for grilled meats or burgers, in sandwiches, or with eggs. The marmalade will keep in the refrigerator several weeks.

Please note!! All these conserva are most delicious when freshly made, so don’t postpone joy! Eat them immediately. If you are so fortunate to have a surplus of vegetables, make extra to store for winter.