I really like pearl onions. They’re tiny, adorable, grape-sized onions, and they’re typically sweeter than their bigger cousins. You can find them pickled and jarred, and I’ve had a jar on hand in my fridge for the past couple months. I toss a handful onto salads, or in with other veggies that I’m sauteing. The pickled ones are sometimes called cocktail onions, and they’re used as a garnish in some cocktails, notably the Gibson, which is a martini with a cocktail onion instead of an olive.
There is an actual variety of onion called pearl onions, but they’re very rare in the US. A vast majority of the products found here that are labeled ‘pearl onions’ are actually just very young and small white or sweet onions, which are harvested before they’re fully grown. Which explains why the bag of frozen pearl onions I bought weren’t called pearl onions on the label:
In addition to jarred and frozen, you can find fresh pearl onions in the produce aisle, and that’s actually the only kind I haven’t bought, because peeling a pound of pearl onions seems like a tedious chore, and the jarred and frozen versions come pre-peeled.
You can find a lot of recipes online that call for pearl onions – stews and soups and such – but not many that feature them in the starring role. And most of the dishes that do have them in a starring role are ‘creamed pearl onion’ dishes, and I don’t have heavy cream lying around, nor do I want to buy it.
So I decided to glaze my pearl onions, and it’s a pretty quick and painless procedure. Here’s how I made…
Balsamic and Molasses Glazed Pearl Onions
I thawed that 14-ounce frozen bag in the fridge overnight, and then give them in a quick rinse in my colander.
Meanwhile, I melted 3 tablespoons of butter in a non-stick skillet, and when it was bubbly, I added the onions, and sauteed them for a minute or two.
Then I added the components that would make the glaze:
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
- 1/2 cup unsalted vegetable stock
(You don’t need to use both balsamic and molasses, but I had them both, and thought, why not?)
It seems like a lot of liquid, but it doesn’t stay liquidy for long.
Bring the concoction to a boil and let it simmer until the liquid reduces. Mine took about 10 minutes, on medium-low heat, although I bumped up the heat partway through to speed up the process.
That’s it, you’re done!
I ate it with some pieces of roasted garlic chicken sausage, that I seared in another skillet, and both parts of my meal were delicious. It was a very brown meal!
I actually had some fresh chives that I was going to sprinkle on top for a little green, after I plated it, but I forgot. Oh well.
The glaze reduced into a thick, flavorful glaze that was both savory and sweet, and each individual onion popped in my mouth, like cooked cherry tomatoes do. Fantastic!
The best part is that this is a pretty versatile side dish. It’d be great with other proteins, like turkey or beef, or served on top of quinoa.
Versatile, delicious, healthy, easy. What more could you ask for in a dish?
Keep it up, David!
If you liked this post, you might also like:
- Pan-Seared Balsamic Artichokes
- Molasses-Glazed Roasted Vegetables
- Poached Hake with Orange-Molasses Glaze