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Roast Red Onions With Basil

by . Featured in NIGELLISSIMA
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Introduction

This is one of those recipes that, while not quick to cook, is the work of easy minutes to make. Also, because it's best warm rather than hot, you can cook this before getting on with anything else, thus freeing up the oven later, should you need it.

I know that having to peel this many onions doesn't seem like light work, but if you quarter them first, the peel almost falls off. And I never worry about a bit of it here and there in the pan, anyway. I prefer to use smallish red onions, but if you can only find large onions, then cut them into eighths rather than quarters.

This makes a wonderful supper or lunch accompaniment to roast lamb. I also love it alongside a platter of (very unItalian) grilled halloumi. If you want it to be a main course in itself, then crumble or dab over it the cheese of your choice - ricotta salata, fresh ricotta, Gorgonzola, Taleggio - just as it comes out of the oven, but before you add the uplifting and scented splendour of the basil.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

This is one of those recipes that, while not quick to cook, is the work of easy minutes to make. Also, because it's best warm rather than hot, you can cook this before getting on with anything else, thus freeing up the oven later, should you need it.

I know that having to peel this many onions doesn't seem like light work, but if you quarter them first, the peel almost falls off. And I never worry about a bit of it here and there in the pan, anyway. I prefer to use smallish red onions, but if you can only find large onions, then cut them into eighths rather than quarters.

This makes a wonderful supper or lunch accompaniment to roast lamb. I also love it alongside a platter of (very unItalian) grilled halloumi. If you want it to be a main course in itself, then crumble or dab over it the cheese of your choice - ricotta salata, fresh ricotta, Gorgonzola, Taleggio - just as it comes out of the oven, but before you add the uplifting and scented splendour of the basil.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Image of Nigella's Roast Red Onions with Basil
Photo by Petrina Tinslay

Ingredients

Serves: 6-8, as part of a meal

Metric Cups
  • 1 kilogram red onions - preferably small (quartered then peeled)
  • 125 millilitres olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon best-quality balsamic vinegar (or to taste)
  • 1 large (approx 90g) bunch fresh basil
  • 2¼ pounds red onions - preferably small (quartered then peeled)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon best-quality balsamic vinegar (or to taste)
  • 1 large (approx. 4oz) bunch fresh basil

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/180ºC Fan/gas mark 6/400ºF.
  2. Tip the quartered onions into a roasting tin, pour the olive oil over them, then scatter with fennel seeds, tossing the onions in the tin to coat them throughly; then put the tin in the oven for 1 hour, by which time the onions should be soft and cooked through.
  3. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the salt and drizzle the balsamic vinegar over the onions, then toss them gently and leave (for up to 1 hour) to come to room temperature, though you can eat this hot if you prefer.
  4. On serving, add the basil leaves, torn from their stems, and toss again, seasoning to taste. There is a lot of basil, but think of it as a salad leaf, here, not mere decoration.
  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/180ºC Fan/gas mark 6/400ºF.
  2. Tip the quartered onions into a roasting tin, pour the olive oil over them, then scatter with fennel seeds, tossing the onions in the tin to coat them throughly; then put the tin in the oven for 1 hour, by which time the onions should be soft and cooked through.
  3. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the salt and drizzle the balsamic vinegar over the onions, then toss them gently and leave (for up to 1 hour) to come to room temperature, though you can eat this hot if you prefer.
  4. On serving, add the basil leaves, torn from their stems, and toss again, seasoning to taste. There is a lot of basil, but think of it as a salad leaf, here, not mere decoration.

Additional Information

MAKE AHEAD:
Can be made ahead up to the end of step 3. Cool and refrigerate as quickly as possible. Will keep in fridge for up to 2 days. Remove the onions from the fridge about 1 hour before serving, to allow to come to room temperature, then continue as directed in the recipe.

MAKE AHEAD:
Can be made ahead up to the end of step 3. Cool and refrigerate as quickly as possible. Will keep in fridge for up to 2 days. Remove the onions from the fridge about 1 hour before serving, to allow to come to room temperature, then continue as directed in the recipe.

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