Roasted Cipollini Onions in Thyme

by White on Rice Couple on May 2, 2010

Fingers crossed, in WORC garden there will be an onion bumper crop in a few months, without all the onion breath. Plenty of Walla Walla sweets are coming up ever-so-cutely in the garden and we’re excited, it’s hard to resist not yanking them out of the dirt too early during their growing season.

If you’ve never had a sweet onions of any kind, you’re living in a culinary cave! Yes, onion-haters, there are many wonderful varieties of sweet onions that are very mild on the onion flavor and high on the sugars.

Cipollinis are perfect specimens of mini-flat orbs of cuteness and when roasted in the oven, the result is a platter full of gorgeous, caramelized bites of sweet poetry. Every bite is rich with roasted flavor, a kiss of fragrant thyme, sea salt and a texture that is soft, supple and a satisfying chew. I adore roasted onions and I promise you will too.

Treat caramelized cipollini onions like you would any vegetable and you’ll be pleased with how much depth they can add to a dish. Fear not, roasted cippolinis make a fabulous vegetable side dish.

Last Saturday’s trip to the farmers market was a visual feast of sweet onions: white, red,  small, large, sweet, all with their green leaves attached, roots dangling in the open air and equally stunning. There’s something awe-inspiring about root vegetables and their relationship with dirt. Growing under ground, nurtured beneath the earth and finally emerging, covered in dirt, as a gorgeous culinary specimen. Dirt is a beautiful thing.

We look forward to finding more ground space (yeah, right) to grow more varieties of onions, especially cippolinis. For now, there’s a ton of fresh leeks growing in a pot and if they don’t get harvested soon, we’ll have a vase full of leek flowers. Onward to leek recipes!

-Diane

Roasted Cipollini Recipe

Total Time: 45 minutes

This is simple and quick. No quantities are needed, just make as much or little as you need.

Ingredients:

  • Cipollini Onions (pearl onions are an ok substitute), outer layer removed
  • Olive Oil, enough to liberally coat onions
  • fresh Thyme
  • Sea Salt
  • fresh cracked Black Pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400º Roast

  1. Toss onions and thyme with olive oil and place on a baking sheet or other oven safe dish. Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste.
  2. Roast in oven for about 35 minutes, turning every 10 minutes to brown sides evenly. Remove when tender and golden.
Recipe Source: WhiteOnRiceCouple.com.

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{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary May 3, 2010 at 3:34 am

I adore cipollini onions! Well I love all onions, but cipollini are one of my faves! Someday I will get my hands on some Walla-Wallas. I really am an onion freak.

I can grow leeks in a container? I always thought they had to be in the ground? I am so growing them if that’s the case.

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2 White on Rice Couple May 4, 2010 at 10:38 am

Ours have been fine in pots. They seem to grow slow, however they are still healthy plants and delicious.

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3 Neel | Learn Food Photography May 10, 2010 at 9:36 pm

I loved the photos Diane. Love the composition. Absolutely outstanding. The conversation of the elements in these photos is beautiful. Great story. Love the dark background here. The backlit photos with white background are so common that these photos with dark background leave a lasting impression. Great photos.

Thanks for sharing Diane,
Neel

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4 Jessica @ How Sweet May 3, 2010 at 3:50 am

I love roasted cipollinis. They do add wonderful flavor to dishes.

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5 Angela@spinachtiger May 3, 2010 at 6:21 am

I like these kind of recipes. A reminder of the power of olive oil and sea salt with just about anything. And, yes, it’s awe inspiring to think about the power of dirt and what it can bring us.

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6 Barbara @ VinoLuciStyle.com May 3, 2010 at 7:34 am

I doubt I’ll be planting onions anytime soon; my older neighborhood and the growth of neighbors trees has left my once prolific garden a bit too shaded for veggie success. BUT, herbs seems to thrive here and I recognize thyme…an herb I could not do without. So easy to grow and there is simply no comparison between fresh and dried. If you’ve got the onions…I’ve got the thyme!

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7 Chez Us May 3, 2010 at 7:45 am

I love onions and I really love cipolini onions. I have never tried caramelizing them at home but have had many times when dining out. I saw a bunch “bumper crop” of them at the market the past weekend as well … next time I will have to pick some up, They would go nicely with a roasted piece of meat! Great photos as well. Love the frying pan!

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8 Maria May 3, 2010 at 8:42 am

Roasting really brings out the best flavor. The perfect addition to almost any meal.

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9 bunkycooks May 3, 2010 at 8:52 am

These are lovely! There is nothing better than carmelized onions with just a bit of herbs. Simple and delicious. Good luck with your onion growing!

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10 Diana May 3, 2010 at 9:44 am

This is my favorite way to eat cipolini onions too. :) Love how the table has this deep chocolatey hue.

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11 Jac May 3, 2010 at 10:40 am

Dig that pan…

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12 Deanna B May 3, 2010 at 11:12 am

I love roasted onions, especially with a drizzle of good balsamic vinegar. I guess I will be going to the farmers market tomorrow to search for onions. Too bad my school schedule gets in the way of going to the better farmers market.

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13 my little expat kitchen May 3, 2010 at 1:20 pm

I love all kinds of onions. I’m an onion freak! Cipollinis are no exception. Great recipe Diane.
Magda

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14 SMITH BITES May 3, 2010 at 4:01 pm

We planted some Chipolini’s as well – first time so am hopeful we’ll have some to roast! And of course I’ve planted some good old Walla Walla Sweets – Love that pan!

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15 Dominic May 3, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Those photos are stunning. I will try this recipe if I can get hold of some Cipollini onions .. i’ve never seen them here in New Zealand.

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16 White on Rice Couple May 4, 2010 at 11:01 am

dominic- if you can’t get cipollini onions, you can use any variety of sweet onion.

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17 Wizzythestick May 3, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Caramelized onions are to die for so absolutely sweet.

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18 Vivian May 3, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Absolutely beautiful. I never was much of an onion fan until a farmer introduced me to Candy Onions, and now I am hooked on sweet onions :) Love Cipolinis but they are a little harder to come by for me. Will definitely try this with the Candy Onions I have.

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19 White on Rice Couple May 4, 2010 at 11:00 am

Vivian- as a matter of fact, I think the onions we just planted are a cross between walla walla sweets X candy onions!

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20 art and lemons May 4, 2010 at 5:21 am

Both photos and recipes make my heart beat faster, am falling hard for both!

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21 LoveFeast Table May 4, 2010 at 5:36 am

You had me at “Roasted Cipollini Onions…”

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22 Tokyo Terrace May 4, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Simple, beautiful, and totally delicious- I love this post. I have been a long-time fan of Cipollini onions and this is such a great way to showcase their great flavor potential. The classic combination of thyme and caramelized onions is lovely. Your photos are so elegant, just like the recipe!

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23 tasteofbeirut May 4, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Love these roasted onions! Actually whenever there’s roasted onions with kebabs or whatever, I eat the onions and leave the rest! Thanks for the idea !

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24 A Bowl Of Mush May 6, 2010 at 4:26 pm

What a lovely and delicious way to use cipolini onions!

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25 Sara May 6, 2010 at 9:05 pm

Love your recipe for the Roasted Cipollini Onions & I like your idea of using fresh thyme!!

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26 Haley J. May 8, 2010 at 11:19 am

I adore cipollini onions – their flavor, their shape, their size. Sadly, not enough people are giving this little jewels their due. Imagine my excitement when I saw them featured on your blog! I also love roasting them, and a wonderful way to serve them as an appetizer is to wrap each onion in a strip or two of good, thick bacon and roast on a rack. Heaven!

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27 Window On The Prairie May 10, 2010 at 8:22 am

We planted both red and yellow onions this year, Red Zeppelin, and Yellow Copra, and they’re coming along swimmingly. Getting rain here today, and I’m sure the garden is enjoying it.

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28 Marly May 10, 2010 at 1:43 pm

My family used to plant green onions when I was a kid. But I don’t know if I’m brave enough to try planting onions now. Of course, it might be the one food that squirrels won’t eat. I’m chronicling my squirrel diaries in my blog. It’s an epic battle between the squirrels and me (as I try to protect my fruit trees, tomatoes, flowers…you name it). To add irony, we’re vegan so it’s not like I can do any physical harm to them. Oh, please. Look at me. Talking about the squirrels again.

Well, your post has inspired me to try planting something I THINK might actually survive in my garden. Thanks much!

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29 matt May 10, 2010 at 4:30 pm

fantastic recipe guys. And the photography? OMG the best I have seen in a very, very long time. LOVE roasted onions. Wish our garden was as far along as yours is!

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30 Kathy Diaz (foundbaking) May 10, 2010 at 9:13 pm

Killer photos as always! And the recipe couldn’t be any simpler. So jealous of your garden. Not that I have a green thumb but a garden I could admire each day would be a pleasure.

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31 Manggy May 11, 2010 at 9:36 am

What?? There are onion haters?!? Ah, I forgot, I’ve cut them out of my life already ;) (just kidding.) Caramelized is certainly the way to win them over!

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32 Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets May 11, 2010 at 11:25 am

I used to be an onion hater, but realized a few years ago that it was only because I’d been scared by raw onions in salads and sandwiches. These look fabulous! I love your dark rustic wood background! Would you mind giving me advice about where to find such background wood and stone pieces? I’ve looked on Etsy and Ebay to no avail. Also, although I have a large window where I shoot, the light never seems to penetrate far into the room (maybe because of the direction of the window?). Do you have any tips for getting better illuminated photos (I already use white foam boards to bounce back light)? Sorry for all the questions. Thanks in advance! -XL

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33 White on Rice Couple May 14, 2010 at 10:43 am

We shot the cipollinis on an old serving tray we found at an antique store. They tend to be great places for finding thing with character.
Best advice we can give you without seeing your shooting location is to photograph as close to the window as possible. It may seem awkward, but many times you just have to go to where the light is.
Good luck!
T & D

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34 Brooke @ Food Woolf May 11, 2010 at 11:33 am

If Vermeer had a been a food photographer he’d model his shots after these. What gorgeous photos! So moody! So inspiring! Oh, and of course, cipolini’s rule. I can’t wait to roast some!

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35 zoom yummy May 12, 2010 at 2:14 am

Those are some wonderful photos! I love them! :) Petra

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36 Annie May 12, 2010 at 8:45 pm

I’ve never tried these types of onions, but after reading your post, I really want to!

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37 Kathleen Enge May 12, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Wish I was able to chat at the Eggplant feast. Your hubbie was so gracious with the light reflector. Until we meet again!
Warmly – K

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38 Kelly von Hemert May 16, 2010 at 8:05 pm

Hi Diane and Todd, I was so thrilled to meet you at Zov’s Eggplant Recipe Contest! Thank you Diane for showing me how to use my camera. You can see my current post on the event with a photo credit to you, and no, I’ll never wash my 20D again!

Now, on to onions! Your photos often evoke the great oil still life masters such as Melendez, Vermeer and Tissot. This one reminds me of Neruda’s Ode to Onions. Such a gorgeous poem, and a beautiful photo.

Look forward to seeing you in the future!

Kelly

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39 Neel | Learn Food Photography May 17, 2010 at 9:54 pm

Diane,

I looked at these photos again and last time I just couldn’t figure out what was so amazing and appealing about these photos that drew me in. There was something that just made me feel so warm and fuzzy and there was something very familiar about it.

And then I figured it out. It is the background. That makes it feel like a still painting. The dark background and amazingly simple styling are outstanding.

Thank you for sharing this with us. This is one of the very few food photos in recent times that is so moving and engaging. Absolutely love it.

Thanks again,
Neel

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40 Katie @ haute from the oven May 18, 2010 at 7:12 pm

i love roasted onions. they look delicious. what really drew me in where those pictures, though. they are gorgeous.

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41 Nisrine@Dinners & Dreams May 21, 2010 at 6:26 pm

Such a pretty pictures of these onions. I love the rustic look of the decor.

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42 Nisrine@Dinners & Dreams May 21, 2010 at 6:27 pm

Such a pretty picture of onions. They have been made glamorous. I love the rustic decor.

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43 Tony Payne May 27, 2010 at 7:26 am

I love your website! I’m telling all of my friends about it. Thanks!

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44 Ann June 12, 2011 at 6:00 am

I had cipollinis onions for dinner at STK resturant in New York and they were so good. I hope I can find them in the market so I can prepare them with your simple recipe thank you onion lover.

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45 Winnie September 19, 2012 at 11:17 am

Love the photo. I found you while looking up the onions as I was just gifted a large bag of these beauties from a coworker who went to the farmers market. I can’t wait to try it, as I have a lot of fresh thyme in my garden this year.

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