Voracious this year is celebrating our local farmers markets with a series of poems extolling what's newly ripe and ready for sale. Each week during market season, we'll run a poem from a local poet who's found inspiration in the region's bounty. And should you find yourself feeling similarly inspired after reading their odes to romaine lettuce, nectarines, pea vines and gooseberries, the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance has provided us with recipes featuring each of the edible muses.
It would be understandable if Georgia Johnson didn't like onions.
The Skagit Valley poet works as a culinary arts teacher and Food Services Manager for the La Conner School District, a job that involves lots and lots of onions. Between teaching students how to correctly chop vegetables for a mirepoix and preparing gallons of chili and untold pounds of taco salad, Johnson's likely dealt with more onions than most home cooks will confront in a lifetime.
But Johnson's poem suggests she isn't done with the bulb just yet. Even after so much onion exposure, Johnson doesn't hesitate to compare Walla Walla's sweet onion to a beautiful seductress. "It's no secret she can make a grown man cry," she writes.
Because of Johnson's scholastic responsibilities, she won't be able to join us for our Producing Poetry Reading next Wednesday at Columbia City Farmers Market, but we hope you'll be there. Six poets who've contributed to our series will be reading from their work: The event runs from 5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m.
genteel in her paper-thin chemise.
With her, ripe is defined by heat,
by heft in the hand,
not so much perfume or
the give of flesh.
But oh, her scent
once the chemise is stripped
once those straps have fallen
it's no secret she can make a grown man cry.
Once bitten there's no stopping her,
you've got to go all the way with her,
as layer by layer drops away you find it's all
in the curve and swell of her tight wound heart.
The bitter then sweet of her sizzle
gives tongue full range of pleasure.
Cousins on all continents,
these broads command respect from
Morocco to Myanmar, from Paris to Sao Paulo,
stars in their own right like the great
sweet Southern Vidalia,
the Oignon doux des Cerennes,
that red-headed hot Bermuda,
from Chez Panisse Vegetables by Alice Waters
Onions cooked this way can be served warm or cold, as a side dish, or by themselves. Sweet, juicy yellow onions are best for this recipe.
Peel the onions, slice them 1/4-inch thick, season well with salt, and place them on a well-oiled baking sheet. Brush the exposed sides of the onions with olive oil and bake them in a preheated 375 F oven for about 30 minutes, or until the onions are soft, and browned on their undersides.
When the onions are cooked, place them carefully in a shallow dish, keeping the slices intact. Pour over them a vinaigrette made with 1 part sherry vinegar, 4 parts extra virgin olive oil, salt and a pinch of ground cayenne or hot pepper flakes. Let the onions marinate in the vinaigrette for about 20 minutes. Serve them cool, or warm them gently in the oven.
Sweet red onions are also good baked this way. Peel, slice, season and brush red onion slices with oil as above, then sprinkle some good balsamic vinegar over them. As they bake, the vinegar helps them caramelize. Either serve them warm right off the tray or dress them in a shallow dish with olive oil and a little more balsamic vinegar.