More than Meets the Eye

Onions play a supporting role in most dishes. Here, Béatrice Peltre puts their incredible flavor front and center.

Photograph by Béatrice Peltre

Few ingredients undergo such a radical transformation when cooked as onions. Who would think something pungent enough to set your eyeballs on fire can, with the application of a little heat, become so sweet, subtle, and rich?

My favorite season to cook with onions is in springtime when you can get them fresh. Fresh onions are a little milder than their dried counterparts because the drying process concentrates heir flavor. Regardless of which variety you use, onions are a flavor powerhouse. They can form the base for a hearty soup or stew, they can shine as the star of a dish, or they can be used sparingly as a garnish, adding zing to any meal. Few ingredients show up so often, in so many different ways, across such a vast range of cuisines, as the onion. Like Julia Child said, “It is hard to imagine a civilization without onions.”

For my recipe this issue, I wanted to celebrate the onion in all its complexity. This onion and ricotta tart with dill and Parmesan showcases the bold, earthy, and sweet flavor of onion by pairing it with an ingredient that mirrors each of those characteristics. The ricotta is sweet and rich,…

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