My favorite thing to cook, hands down, is caramelized onions. There’s the therapeutic knife work: slicing this surprisingly juicy root vegetable until tears trickle down your cheeks. Then the melting of butter and olive oil… I don’t know about you, but I can taste decadence at the sight of crackling butter… Then, very slowly, the alchemy of cooking is at work – with a little heat, a crackling of pepper and salt, a sprinkling of sugar, and that key ingredient, time — a heap of raw, half moon shapes becomes a puddle of onion candy.
I would just as spoon caramelized onions out of a bowl, but on a recent summer evening I decided to add toasted bread, a sprinkling of fresh thyme, and a smear of goat cheese to the mix. It was a little too delicious. A baguette of goat cheese caramelized onion bruschetta has its merits as a dinner for two – it’s both inexpensive and easy – but you’ll curse yourself if you consume half a loaf of bread as part of your “light” summer dinner, as did I. Or maybe you won’t! Maybe this is the perfect dinner for you. In that case, you need:
Large skillet or pot
Spatula or wooden spoon
One sheet pan, preferably rimmed
Small glass bowl (preferred, not required)
Silicone brush (preferred, not required)
Serving platter or large plate
Three large onions
Half a stick of butter
A glug of olive oil
Freshly cracked pepper
- Take the goat cheese out of the fridge and bring it to room temp.
- Peel your three large onions and cut them in half. Then cut each of the six halves into medium slices. Separate the slices into a large bowl.
- Get your skillet or pot out, and turn the heat on low. Melt your butter and olive oil in the skillet or pot. I melted the whole half stick, but it’s probably better to slice the butter into tablespoons before putting it in the pan so it melts more evenly and quickly.
- Pile the onions in, and use a spatula or a wooden spoon to coat the onion slices evenly in the fat. Sprinkle the onions with salt, pepper, and a couple pinches of granulated sugar.
- Let the onions sit for a good long 45 minutes to an hour, until they are a rich golden brown. Turn them every once a while and keep your eye on the skillet. Meanwhile,
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Take your serrated knife and slice the baguette as thinly or thickly as you want. I made thick slices, but I think when I make this again, I’ll slice the bread thinner, so it toasts into crackers. (These are cleaner to eat and make for a lighter appetizer, if you don’t eat a million of them. If you make your slices thinner, you’ll probably need two sheet pans).
- Spread your baguette slices onto a dry sheet pan. Fill a small container with olive oil. Brush each slice, on each side, with a generous coating of olive oil. (You can also pour the olive oil directly on the pan and rub the slices around in it). Sprinkle the entire pan of bread with a few pinches of kosher salt.
- Toast the bread slices in the oven until they are crisp and golden brown, say 5-10 minutes. Flip the slices with tongs and toast the other side for just a bit.
- Transfer the toasts to a serving platter or plate.
- Put your room temp goat cheese in the microwave for 10 seconds (if necessary. If the oven has made your kitchen warm, you might not need to microwave it).
- Spread the goat cheese generously on each slice and sprinkle with fresh thyme. (To remove thyme leaves from their stems, point the stem upside down and pull the leaves up the stem between your fingers). If you want to mince the thyme, great, but a sprinkling of full leaves works fine, too.
- Spoon the caramelized onions onto the warm goat cheese and enjoy 🙂