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August 29, 2010

Onions (Recipe: clam, bacon and caramelized onion pita pizza)

Clam, bacon and caramelized onion pita pizza

Years ago, I met a woman who was allergic to onions.

Perhaps she thought me terribly rude, but I never invited her for a meal, because I couldn't imagine what I might be able to cook for her.

Back then I wasn't much of a cook, but even today, I'd have to work hard to put together a meal that tastes just as good without onions as with them. Every soup base and every stew begins with onions. Cajun recipes start with "the trinity" (onions, celery and bell pepper); French dishes open with a mirepoix (onions, celery and carrots).

I don't eat raw onions, but roast, grill, sauté or -- be still my heart -- caramelize an onion, and I'm there.

What are onions?
Edible plants in the allium family, specifically Allium cepa.

How/where to store:
In a cool, dry (very important) part of the pantry, away from potatoes (also very important), for 1-2 months.

More facts about onions, and ingredient photos, in The Perfect Pantry:
Onions (Recipe: French onion soup)

Clam pizza 

Clam, bacon and caramelized onion pita pizza

My favorite low-carb oat bran pita bread makes the perfect base for a single-serving pizza, but what really makes this pizza is slowly caramelized onions. Make extra onions and keep them in the refrigerator or freezer; you'll find all sorts of ways to use them. In this recipe, proportions are not important. Pile on the toppings to your taste. Serves 2; can be doubled.

Ingredients

2 large onions, peeled and very thinly sliced
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sugar
2 oat bran or whole wheat pita breads (6- or 8-inch size)
6 slices bacon
4 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
1 7-oz can chopped clams, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Fresh black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°F.

In a large nonstick frying pan, heat the oil over low heat. Add the onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Sprinkle the sugar on the onions, stir a bit more, and continue to cook until the onions are brown but not crispy. Remove from heat and set aside.

While the onions are cooking, in another frying pan, place the bacon strips in a single layer. Line a plate with paper towels and set aside. Cook the bacon over medium heat until it's as crispy as you like it. Drain on the paper towels, and chop roughly.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Place the two pitas on the pan, bottom facing up (this will create a bit more of a "cup" to contain the toppings).

Distribute the slices of mozzarella on each pita. Top with some caramelized onions. Sprinkle the bacon around, then add half of the can of clams to each pizza. Add some thyme leaves here and there, and top with parmesan cheese. Season with black pepper to taste.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cheeses are melted and gooey. Serve hot or warm.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]


More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Onion bhaji
Salsa and shrimp stuffed avocado
Jilo and onions
Vegetarian Cuban canapes
Beef, ale and onion stew

Other recipes that use onions:
Pickled red onions, from David Lebovitz
Mujadara, from Herbivoracious
Onion strings, from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
Cucumber, onion and parsley salad, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Vidalia onion bake, from Dine and Dish

Comments

My oh my - I am glad I am not your friend (I don't mean this in a bad way, so to rephrase - I am glad I am not allergic to onions!). Otherwise, I'd be drooling and cursing at the same time. Such a great combination - especially with the clams... reminds me of a chowder but pizza style!

LOL - was that my mother you met? Because she is allergic to onions! (and vegetarian!) honestly going out to dinner with her is like ...how can I put this politely...a bit tortured for everyone involved.
but on coincidental note --- I was just wondering this very morning before I sat down to the computer how I was going to make scrambled eggs this am without onions and more importantly why I let the onion supply run out? I had just added onions to the grocery list before reading this posting. Now I shall add bacon and pita's too. That's fate!
(ps I don't really like clams but I think this could be delicious with grilled shrimp?)

I can't imagine not being able to use onions either. The pizza sounds wonderful. I'm intrigued with clams on pizza; I don't think I would have thought of that, but I love the idea!

Try cooking without onions, celery, peppers, or ginger. My sister and my sister-in-law do not eat these in anything!

Limitations do not mean deprivation. Think the cliche, when one door closes another opens.
That said, life without onions seems flat.
Memories: In the spring, my father paid homage to his ancestry, and picked and ate wild onions from our suburban yard.

Lydia, I went back to the onion bhaji page (who will deep fry for me?): one ingredient line calls for "ground oregano, fennel pollen or cumin." Was that a typo? No one commented on that.

Trissa, this pizza was definitely inspired by New England clam chowder, and by the white clam pizzas made famous in New Haven, Connecticut.

Carol, I feel so badly for your mother; I can't imagine being allergic to a food as common as onions. You could use shrimp on this pizza, or chicken, or leave the protein out entirely.

Kalyn, it's a very New England thing, because clams are local here.

Fayze, it must be very challenging to cook for holidays and family gatherings.

Susan, I agree, it's all about meeting challenges. But life without onions would be an adjustment for most of us.

Susan, not sure I understand your question, but it's not a typo. The bhaji can be flavored with any of those spices.

This looks so good, and I think whole wheat pita would even add to the flavour! Lovely dish!

This is a great recipe, I¨ve never tried clams in the pizza,
Thank you,
Myriam

That looks incredible! You always have the most incredible recipes!

I'm curious, why do you have to store potatoes away from onions? I had no idea and I've been storing them together for years!

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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