Onions, members of the lily family, have been used on cooking for at least 5000 years. Here's a piece from The Scotsman:
RED ONION SOUP WITH BALSAMIC VINEGAR AND GOATS CHEESE CROUTONS I do love the mild flavour of red onions, and their caramelised taste when they are sautéd is greatly complemented by the balsamic vinegar (but do beware not to use too much). The goats cheese is far better than Cheddar would be with these flavours.
SERVES 6 1oz/28g butter 2 tablespoons olive oil 6 fairly large red onions, skinned and sliced very finely 1-2 garlic cloves, skinned and finely chopped 11/2-2 pints/850ml-1.1 litres beef stock (you can use canned consommé) or good vegetable stock 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar 8oz/225g soft goats cheese 12 slices from a stick of French bread freshly ground black pepper a pinch of salt a grating of nutmeg
Heat the butter and oil together in a large saucepan and add the onions. It will look a lot, but they reduce right down in quantity. Cook them over a moderate heat, stirring from time to time, for 12 to 15 minutes. Then stir in the garlic and cook for a further two to three minutes, before adding the stock and balsamic vinegar. Simmer all together, with the pan half-covered with its lid, for about 30 minutes.
While the soup cooks, prepare the croutons by spreading goats cheese on each slice of bread, grinding black pepper on top, then grilling for 45 to 60 seconds - just until the surface begins to speckle brown. Keep the croutons warm in a low oven.
Before serving, season the soup with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Ladle it into bowls or soup plates, and put two croutons on each serving.
ONION MARMALADE I love this sauce, which is also like a relish. It is easy to make, and convenient too, as it will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks, and it can be served hot or cold. It is very good with all roast meats and with cheese.
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 8 onions, skinned and very thinly sliced 1/4 pint/140ml white wine vinegar 3 tablespoons demerara sugar a pinch of salt freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based sauté pan and put in the onions. This will look like a vast quantity, but remember that the onions will wilt as they cook. Gently sauté them, stirring occasionally, until they become very soft and reduced - about 30 to 35 minutes. Then stir in the white wine vinegar and the demerara sugar and let it dissolve with a seasoning of salt and pepper. Continue to cook, over a very low heat, for a further 20 minutes, stirring the mixture from time to time to prevent it sticking.
To store, pour it into an airtight container and keep in the fridge.
ONIONS BRAISED WITH LEMON, TOMATOES AND OLIVES This can be served hot or cold. Make it with quartered onions, or with large banana shallots left whole. Beware of trying to cook the onions over too high a heat - the moderate heat is essential so as not to burn them.
4 tablespoons olive oil 12 small to medium-sized onions, each skinned and quartered 1-2 fat cloves of garlic, skinned and finely chopped finely grated rind of 2 lemons (washed and dried before grating) juice of 2 lemons 1/2 pint/285ml chicken or vegetable stock about 12 black olives (Kalamata olives are my favourite), stones removed and the olives halved 1/2 teaspoon salt a good grinding of black pepper 6 tomatoes, skinned, halved and seeds removed, and sliced thinly 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan and, over moderate heat, cook the quartered onions for 10 minutes, turning them as they fry gently - they will break up a bit, but don't worry. Then for the last couple of minutes add the chopped garlic.
Add the grated lemon rinds, juice, stock and the halved olives. Bring the liquid to simmering point, cover the sauté pan with its lid and gently simmer for 30 minutes. The onions should be quite soft. Take the lid off the pan, taste and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the skinned sliced tomato. Just before serving, stir in the chopped parsley.
If you serve this cold, trickle some extra virgin olive oil over before serving. It makes an excellent salad dish.