Sunday, December 19, 2010

No Onion, No Cry

Onions have plagued me since my very first kitchen experiences. I was always underfoot (and sometimes perched on a stepstool) in an effort to participate in kitchen affairs but things always ended in tears when an onion was involved.

My sensitivity was so bad that Mom would warn me when she was about to chop an onion and I would run in the Other Room and bury my head between the sofa cushions for as long as I could stand it. This room is known to normal families as the den or family room, but we've always called it "the Other Room" which gives you some indication of how much time my family spends in the kitchen.

The regular white onion is my nemesis, but I'll also shed tears over mild little scallions, garlic, and leeks. Even with a super-sharp knife, the mildest member of the Allium genus will open my lacrimal flood gates and burn my throat. And it's not easy to chop something with a super sharp knife when you can't see through a waterfall of tears. As a good friend once said, "I know how this story ends..."

Tonight's recipe required me to mince an onion, leading to red eyes and some serious tears rolling down my cheeks. What can I say? I'm a delicate flower.  I tried to photograph the effects but honestly, no one wants to see an extreme close up of my eye on this blog. Trust me.

I really need to pick up a pair of these. Plus, they are so stylish. I've always wanted to accessorize more like Spiderman.

This dip is modified from a Food and Wine recipe. Grace Parisi is one of the F&W test kitchen cooks, and her recipes are generally great. By which I mean, they are delicious and, importantly, they turn out as they should in my home kitchen. (Mark Bittman, take a note!)

Spicy Spinach Dip
adapted from Food and Wine (Grace Parisi), January 2005
Makes about 2 cups


1 cup Greek-style plain nonfat yogurt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 small yellow onion, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon pure chile powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
One 10-ounce package frozen whole-leaf spinach, thawed


1. Scoop the yogurt into a paper towel-lined strainer set over a bowl. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a small skillet. Add the pine nuts and minced onion and cook over medium-high heat.

Feel the burn.

3. Stir frequently, until the onion is softened and lightly browned and the pine nuts are golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the cumin, coriander, chile powder and cayenne and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Scrape into a bowl.

4. Using your hands or a clean dishtowel, squeeze the spinach until very dry, then coarsely chop it and discard any stringy pieces. Stir the spinach and yogurt into the onion mixture and season with salt.

You can serve this with crackers or bread or veggies. It's really delicious. I even ate some just straight with a fork, no dippers required. Although it doesn't photograph all that well, it is savory and complex and healthy. I love that.

A new feature on this blog! I hope to be able to provide nutrition info for each recipe I post. Unless I am too lazy to type in the ingredients to build the label. Still, it's good to have aspirations.

Per half-cup serving:

Nutrition data provided by

1 comment:

Lindy said...

Have you tried all the folk remedies like chilling your onions, lighting a match.... (The chilling works for me.)