All you need is time and patience to make the perfect caramelized onions. Here's how.
Golden and sweet, yet super savoury, caramelized onions add depth of flavour to so many dishes. They make the best pizza, burger and sandwich toppers and turn plain old cooked pasta or potatoes into gourmet dishes.
And guess what? They're really easy to make! You'll need a large skillet, some onions, a pat of butter, a pinch of salt, and some time. It's a long process (40 to 50 minutes), but absolutely worth the wait. Time and patience means no scorched onions and the ultimate in flavour and texture. Here's how:
First, choose the right skillet. For best results, use a large heavy-bottomed cast iron or stainless steel skillet. If the skillet is too small the onions are crowded and will steam instead of caramelize, meaning the process takes more time. A nonstick skillet will work if that's all you've got, but you won't get the same sticky bits (called the fond in chef speak) on the bottom of the skillet that really add flavour.
Slice the onions. Trim the stem and root ends of the onions and peel away the skin. Slice the onion, lengthwise, thinly (about 1/4 inch or just less). You can use 1 to 4 onions in a large skillet. More onions will take longer to caramelize and fewer onions will take less time, simply keep your eye on the skillet depending on how many you start with. Yellow cooking onions are the most common and versatile onion to use for caramelizing. However, you can use any onion each with subtly different flavours and colours, experiment to find your favourite.
Melt butter (about 1 tbsp) in skillet over medium heat.
Add the onions when the butter stops bubbling and stir a few times to coat the onions. Cook over medium heat (reduce to medium low if the onions start to look or smell like they're burning), stirring once every 5 minutes or so, until the onions are ultra tender, a rich golden colour and have a delightful sweetness. At 10 minutes the onions are still plump and mostly white with just a few golden edges. At 20 minutes look for the onions beginning to shrink, become a little sticky and deepen in colour. At 30 minutes you'll see that the onions are a deeper, richer colour, have really started to shrink and become almost jam-like. The bits are beginning to stick to the bottom, use your spoon or spatula to scrape them up when you stir. At 40 minutes, taste the onions and check the colour. You're looking for meltingly tender onions with a rich golden hue and a sweet taste. Add a few more minutes (up to 10) depending on where they're at now. Note all the bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet in the photo below. These are good!
Deglaze the skillet and season the onions. To deglaze means to add liquid (you can use water, wine or vinegar, about 1/4 cup) to the skillet and stir for a minute or two in order to scrape up all the delicious bits (fond) that are stuck to the bottom of the skillet. The liquid will bubble up and steam, releasing those nuggets of flavour. Often in cooking, we are fearful of things stuck to the bottom of the pan, but unless it's scorched and totally black, this is where the true flavour lies. Once deglazed, stir in a pinch of salt, taste and add more as needed.
Let the onions cool. Then use as you desire. It's a good idea to make a large batch. Simply thaw before using. These are great to have on hand for quick pizza toppings or to stir into an easy pasta dish.
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Lemony Red Pepper and Asparagus Pasta Salad
Photography by Joe Kim Image by: Lemony Red Pepper and Asparagus Pasta Salad <br> Photography by Joe Kim
Planning a picnic or family barbecue anytime soon? Give yourself one less thing to worry about and go for one of our easy pasta salad recipes. It's sure to be a hit!
Pasta salads are great to make ahead, and are absolute tops for large groups. They also take the cake for being an extremely versatile dish – with a host of added ingredients, toppings and dressings, simple pasta salads can go from humble side to star entrée in no time.
We asked Test Kitchen food specialist Amanda Barnier to share some top tips for preparing pasta salads, and why they're a crowd favourite. Here's what she had to share:
Pasta salads: the perfect make-ahead dish
"Pasta salads can easily be prepped in advance and can feed a crowd with little effort," Amanda says. "It can be made in advance and cooled immediately after cooking."
One important tip to remember, she adds, is to "add dressing the day it's being served, because it will quickly absorb the dressing."
Pasta salad favourites
"I like using cheese filled tortellini for a hearty salad. Soba and rice noodles are great with Asian dressings, whole grain and coloured pastas," Amanda says.
How to store pasta salads
"Keep salads well wrapped and refrigerated," she says. "Salad has the same storage life as its ingredients. Seafood is best eaten within 2 days, and chicken (within) 2 to 3 days. If traveling, be sure to store pasta salads in coolers packed with lots of ice."
"Proteins should not be within 4 C and 60 C for longer than a four hour period," she adds.
The long and short of it: best pasta shapes
"Short shapes are best with vinaigrettes and creamy dressings, and chunky ingredients such as chopped vegetables and beans," Amanda says.
"Long pasta shapes are better used with thinly sliced vegetables, proteins, herbs, spices and vinaigrettes."
Tips for making pasta salad
"If making a pasta salad in advance, rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process and drain well," she advises. "Add dressing just prior to serving. Pasta quickly absorbs liquids; if the dressing is added too soon, the pasta will absorb it."
So whether you prefer chunky pasta salads with a cool, creamy dressing perfect for summer picnics, or entrée-worthy pasta salads with long rice noodles and a tangy vinaigrette, you're sure to find a new favourite with from our collection.
Easy pasta salad recipes:
Lemony Red Pepper and Asparagus Pasta Salad
A bright vinaigrette makes this pasta salad the ultimate dish to serve at any summer party.
Photography by Joe Kim
Mediterranean Orzo Salad
This salad highlights many fresh flavours of the Mediterranean and is at its best when made with good-quality olive oil.
Photography by Jeff Coulson
The Best Macaroni Salad
This is a great keeper salad and perfect for a picnic or BBQ. Just make sure you pack it with plenty of ice packs to keep it nice and cold, both during transportation and at the table.
Photography by Annabelle Waugh
Chicken, Broccoli and Bocconcini Pasta Salad
Make this pasta salad for the whole family—the kids will love the mild dressing and round bocconcini cheese, while the adults will appreciate it as a light alternative to a sandwich.
Photography by Jeff Coulson
More great pasta salad recipes:
Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Salad
This salad is simple to assemble for a quick family meal.
Warm Spinach and Ham Pasta Salad
Dressed with Dijon mustard and white wine vinegar, this penne pasta salad is a winner topped with goat cheese and cherry tomatoes.
Winter Vegetable Pasta Salad
Cook everything together in one pot for this easy warm salad.
Pea, Pepper and Pasta Salad
This make-ahead salad is perfect for toting to a potluck barbecue or picnic. Toss the salad with the dressing right before serving so the peas stay bright green.
Summer Pasta Salad
Serve this light summery salad with crispy, homemade Parmesan Breadsticks.
Mediterranean Fusilli Salad
Fresh basil, hearty beans, piquant sun-dried tomatoes and al dente pasta make the perfect summer salad.
Warm Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Salad
The dressing lends a taste of summer any time of year. The red peppers provide vitamins A and C and potassium. Quick and easy to make, this salad is perfect to take to a last-minute potluck or picnic.
Grilled Sausage, Pepper and Bocconcini Pasta Salad
This delicious pasta salad is made with tasty Italian sausage and lots of colourful peppers.
Bow-Tie Pasta Salad
This easy, colourful salad has the sunny fresh tastes of Greece.
Tuna Pasta Salad
Using tuna packed in both oil and broth means you'll need less oil in the dressing.
Salmon Pasta Salad
Start with melon wedges to whet your appetite for this quick and light dinner.
Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad
Grilled market-fresh veggies meet marinated olives and artichokes in this healthy dish made with whole wheat rotini. So chock full with taste and texture, carnivores won't complain about this vegetarian dish.
Party Parmesan Pasta Salad
Try this hearty salad studded with salami, olives, tiny tomatoes, roasted pepper and fresh basil.
Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad
This easy tasty pasta salad is loaded with calcium. Omit the banana peppers if your child is not a fan of hot food.
Deli Pasta Salad
Add 1-1/4 cups (300 mL) extra pasta to the pot at dinner the night before to have enough for this lunchtime salad the next day.
Sirloin Steak with Green Bean Pasta Salad
Sirloin steaks paired with green beans and tomatoes make this salad a hearty entrée.
Looking for more great recipes? Try our best potato salad recipes.
Svava Sigbertsdottir, founder of the butt-kicking Viking Workout
UK (by way of Iceland) trainer Svava Sigbertsdottir, founder of the butt-kicking Viking Workout, talks about her workout philosophy and shares simple, equipment-free exercises that you can do at home.
Save some money this season with easily accessible, moisture-retaining products for when that cold wind bites—all under $20.
Winter’s icy grip has set in, and the crisp weather calls for a new extra nourishing beauty routine. It's a fact that rough and dry skin longs for moisture when blizzards roll in and jacked up thermostats wreak havoc. The skin-care struggle is real. We can share our best ways to curb dry winter skin and tell you how to boost moisture, but you'll also need the beauty products to help see you through to warmer weather.
We know surviving sub-zero temperatures is hard enough—your pocket shouldn’t have to take a hit as well. The good news is, it doesn't have to. All of these beauty products can be purchased at your local drugstore and for under $20, leaving you with more spending money for a peppermint mocha on your way home.
This cult-classic beauty aid has the power to withstand Arctic climates. Slather on the all-natural product—with pansy, chamomile and calendula extracts— anywhere you need it: think dry patches, cuticles and rough elbows. $19, well.ca.
It's a beauty myth that exfoliating your skin will leave you more dry and dehydrated. The fact is, it helps shed dead skin and leaves your face primed to absorb your moisturizing products. Try these pads soaked in glycolic acid. They're less abrasive than a mechanical exfoliant such as beads or scrubs. $15, well.ca.
Even if you have oily skin, winter is time to replace your oil-free gel or clay cleanser in favour of milks or balms. This balm cleanser replenishes lost moisture through glycerin and cocoa butter while still erasing all traces of makeup and grime. $10, beautyboutique.ca.
When your skin is red, parched and in desperation for some heavy-duty TLC, that’s when you send in the face masks. In 15 minutes, this hyaluronic acid-infused facial sheet mask will prevent dullness and provide 24 hours of moisture retention. $18, indeedlabs.com.
Right now, summer feels like a distant dream—but your skin could still use a touch of (faux) summer glow. This foundation gives a dose of gradual self-tanner, providing buildable coverage when on, and a healthy bronze once you rinse it off. $18, almay.com.
Plenty of body washes can leave you dehydrated by the time you step out of the shower. This one does helps lock-in moisture post-shower with argan oil. $5.50, walmart.ca.
If body oil isn’t your thing, nourishing body butter is the skin fix you need. Whipped with shea and cocoa butter—both hailed for their moisturizing properties—there will be no dry skin ‘round these parts. $12, beautyboutique.ca.
This is a lifesaver. Coconut oil is an amazingly cost-effective way to help your body soak up all the moisture it needs. Since it can get greasy, slather it on overnight and wake up with supple skin (try your hair, as well). Added bonus: the scent will leave you smelling of the beach. $14, walmart.ca.
Nothing is worse than checking yourself in the mirror and realizing your lipstick is dray and cracked—and your lips are no better. Be preemptive and exfoliate before you leave the house using this E.L.F. stick made with sugar crystals that aren’t overly abrasive. $4, elfcosmetics.com.
"I don’t want velvety soft, moisturized hands for under $7,"—said no one ever! This cult classic is super-concentrated with glycerin, is fragrance-free and has the stamp of approval from the National Eczema Association. $7, well.ca.
Is everyone in the office—or your children’s school—getting sick? Spritz this anti-bacterial spray without fear of catching whatever bug is going around. Bonus: the added lavender oil prevents your hands from drying out. $7.50, drbronner.com.
Coming in an array of shades, this lip balm will give you that just-bitten winter colour we all strive for—while still keeping your pout moisturized and flake-free. $6, walmart.ca.
The sniffles, watery eyes, snowflakes that stay on your nose and eyelashes–all of these contribute to smudged makeup and raccoon eyes. To keep you looking doe-eyed all day long, switch over to one of our favourite waterproof mascaras. $10, well.ca.