Braised Onions with Orange and Balsamic Vinegar

It is a never ending battle between being a foodie and trying to keep my weight under control.  In an effort to enjoy my salads without adding 150 calories in dressing, I have resorted to adding very flavorful, low cal, gubbins to my salads.  What, you ask, are gubbins?  Years ago, my dear friend Ellie introduced me to the term.  She is married to an Englishman who used it as a general term to describe any small item you would chop up and throw in a salad—tomatoes, onions, peppers, carrots, cucumbers, etc.  I never did find out if this term officially covered olives, dried fruit, or nuts; but I have expanded the term to cover those as well.  In the 20 years since I first heard the term, Roger and I use it routinely.  We’ll ask each other, “Are there enough gubbins in the salad?” or perhaps, “There are too many gubbins in the salad—not enough lettuce!”

So, my search for yet more flavorful gubbins which would allow me to merely drizzle dressing on my salad led me to a salad bar at my local Fresh Market.  They have the most wonderful marinated cipollini onions which elevated my salad from tasty to sublime.  Unfortunately, at $9.99 a pound, it’s a very expensive indulgence.

I continued the search and found a recipe on epicurious which was a restaurant recipe for a side dish to accompany chicken, pork, etc.  It originally called for cipollini onions which turned out to be impossible to find.  A reviewer mentioned the same difficulty and said she found frozen pearl onions from Trader Joe’s to be a good substitute.  Off I went to Trader Joe’s, and the rest is history.  They sell the onions in 1-lb. bags for $2. Since I go through a bag a week, I bought four bags last time I went!

These tiny gems will turn any salad from ordinary into dinner-guest-special.  Throw in some goat cheese, dried cranberries, and glazed nuts, and you will end up with a signature salad as good as any upscale restaurant has to offer.

Braised Onions with Orange and Balsamic Vinegar

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  • 1 pound frozen pearl onions
  • 1 tbl. butter
  • 1 tbl. olive oil
  • 3 tbl. orange juice
  • 3 tbl. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbl. water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cook frozen pearl onions according to package directions and drain.

Melt butter with oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add onions; sauté until brown and tender, about 10 minutes.  Add orange juice, vinegar and 1 tablespoon of water to skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until liquid is reduced to glaze, about 4 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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