November 12, 2012
Growing up, my dad owned an old-school steak joint where I used to feast on prime rib and french onion soup. Have you ever seen an 8-year-old girl bust in on a busy restaurant kitchen to order her own full-sized prime rib? Lets just say that I was a food force to be reckoned with, even back then.
Something about those early experiences with the rich, umami flavors that mark a good steakhouse left an impression on my palate. One that even 8 years of vegetarianism couldn’t erase. (The day I stopped being vegetarian, I ate roast lamb for dinner!) While I try to eat meat only 3-4 times a week now, I love it. Steak especially. I also love caramelized onions. With my steak especially. But also without, like in this onion dip.
Even though my grandmother cooked all the time and my dad owned restaurants, my family had its fair share of processed food moments. And I accepted them, even took to a few like a fish to water. (May I never be tempted with a box of Froot Loops, may I never be tempted with a box of Froot Loops, may I never be tempted with a box of Froot Loops.) But a packet of soup mix to make onion dip was never one of my vices. No way. The flavor of that stuff never measured up the rich, silky taste of dip made with real caramelized onions, the kind tangled in my favorite soup or served alongside prime rib. I knew that even as an 8-year-old food lover in the making.
So whenever I want dip, I want onion dip. Real onion dip. And you should, too. The good news is that it’s easy to make. You don’t need a million ingredients. Just five. You can get fancy and add fresh thyme or green onion, mayo or celery salt, but it’s really not necessary. Plus, the simpler this is, the better.
Bookmark this recipe for the holidays—it’s a super easy crowd-pleaser. It also makes eating vegetables more fun. Kiddo might appreciate that. And what kid mastering finger foods doesn’t want a dip to go with their bites?! An all-around winner, this onion dip. Enjoy.
Caramelized Onion Dip
(can be shared with kids 12+ mos)*
1 1/2 large onions
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon butter
Salt, to taste
Splash red wine vinegar
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 8-ounce container reduced fat sour cream
1/4 cup softened cream cheese
Dash Tabasco sauce
Dash worcestershire sauce
1. Caramelize onions: Peel and cut onions. I prefer thinly sliced onions for this dip. If you’d rather not have “stringy” onions, opt for a fine chop. Heat oil and butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add onions and season generously with salt. Cook, stirring only occasionally, until the onions become translucent and gradually turn golden brown. Stir more frequently, but not constantly, to prevent burning as the onions darken. Once they turn a deep brown color and have a rich flavor, about 30 minutes into cooking, add a splash of vinegar to deglaze the pan. Scrape bits from the bottom on the pan. The onions are done when the vinegar has cooked off. Season to taste with black pepper and allow to cool.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together sour cream and cream cheese. Once smooth, stir in caramelized onions. Add salt, pepper, Tabasco and worcestershire to taste. Refrigerate until cool and serve with veggies, chips, toast points… whatever!
*Note: While there is nothing in this that is unsafe for younger kids, I recommend this starting at 12 months since it has little nutritional value and is usually served with empty snack food. That said, it’s a fun treat, especially served with veggies, for any kid, especially those learning to manage finger foods.