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What to do with a lot of sweet onions

Recipe: Caramelized onion pie full of flavor

Onions of many sizes
Onions of all sizes can be used in this recipe.

What do you do with a whole lot of sweet onions? Like many other summer favorites, turn them into a pie.

OK, this is really more of a thick quiche than a traditional two-crust fruit pie. But the fluffy custard filling nicely contrasts with the flavorful onions.

Caramelizing – slow cooking in butter – brings out the sweetness and flavor in the onions. It takes some time (and makes the whole house smell like onions) but it’s worth it. The slow cooking reduces the moisture in the onions, so what starts out as a great mound of sliced onions will (pretty much) fit in the pie crust along with the egg, cream, milk and cheese. Any extra filling can be baked in a buttered casserole dish (without crust); it makes its own tasty side dish.

This dish works particularly well with home-grown onions that may be small or oddly shaped. (I had lots of those when I pulled my yellow onions this past week.) Because the onions will be uniformly sliced, different sizes may be used in the same recipe.

Slice of pie on a blue plate with tomato slices
A slice of onion pie goes well with a side of sliced tomatoes.

Caramelized onion pie

Serves 6


1 (9-inch) deep-dish pie crust

5 cups onions, thinly sliced

4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter

Salt and pepper

5 eggs

1 cup cream

½ cup milk

1 cup white cheddar cheese, grated

Bowl of peeled onions
Onions peeled and ready to slice.


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Prick pie crust with a fork. Line inside of crust with foil and weight with pie weights or dried beans. Bake crust at 425 for 12 minutes. Remove from oven. Remove foil and pie weights or beans. Set aside.

Turn oven down to 325 degrees F.

Meanwhile, prepare onions. Melt butter in a large skillet. Sauté onions over medium heat, occasionally stirring, until onions are very soft and golden brown, about 30 to 45 minutes. Add a little water, olive oil or more butter if onions get too dry. As the onions cook, sprinkle with salt and pepper as desired. The sliced onions will reduce to about 2 cups caramelized onions.

In a medium bowl, beat eggs. In a small sauce pan, mix together cream and milk. Warm gently until bubbles just begin to appear on the edges. Add warmed milk/cream to eggs and mix until blended. Fold in caramelized onions and grated cheese.

Place pie crust in pan on a rimmed baking sheet and place on rack in oven. Pour onion-egg filling into crust, right to the top. (Be careful. Depending on size and depth of the pie pan, you may have more filling than crust. Leftover filling can be baked separately in a buttered casserole dish.)

Whole pie, uncut
Baked and ready to serve.
Bake pie at 325 degrees F. for 40 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool slightly.

Serve warm or room temperature.


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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Feb. 5

Make the most of sunny days and get winter tasks done:

* This is the last chance to spray fruit trees before they bloom. Treat peach and nectarine trees with copper-based fungicide. Spray apricot trees at bud swell to prevent brown rot. Apply horticultural oil to control scale, mites and aphids on fruit trees soon after a rain. But remember: Oils need at least 24 hours to dry to be effective. Don’t spray during foggy weather or when rain is forecast.

* Feed spring-blooming shrubs and fall-planted perennials with slow-release fertilizer. Feed mature trees and shrubs after spring growth starts.

* Finish pruning roses and deciduous trees.

* Remove aphids from blooming bulbs with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap.

* Fertilize strawberries and asparagus.

* Transplant or direct-seed several flowers, including snapdragon, candytuft, lilies, astilbe, larkspur, Shasta and painted daisies, stocks, bleeding heart and coral bells.

* In the vegetable garden, plant Jerusalem artichoke tubers, and strawberry and rhubarb roots.

* Transplant cabbage and its close cousins – broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts – as well as lettuce (both loose leaf and head).

* Plant artichokes, asparagus and horseradish from root divisions.

* Plant potatoes from tubers and onions from sets (small bulbs). The onions will sprout quickly and can be used as green onions in March.

* From seed, plant beets, chard, lettuce, mustard, peas, radishes and turnips.

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