The best thing about onions is that they can be the star of the show without anyone knowing it. We are aware that there are a few people who don’t prefer the texture of onions, but this sweet onion pesto is proof that you don’t have miss out on the onion’s tasty flavor! Sautéing onions makes them rich, sweet, and soft, allowing them to blend into this savory treat.
While not everyone likes onions, not everyone has tasted the variety of ways an onion can be cooked. In fact, when most people say they don’t like onions, they are more concerned about texture rather than flavor.
“No one is ever going to say these onions are great in here, and if they do comment on the onions, usually something is wrong (with the recipe),” says Linda Carucci, former dean of California Culinary Academy, a culinary instructor and author of the critically acclaimed Cooking School Secrets for Real World Cooks. “Onions provide depths of flavor like nothing else.”
Onions — with a naturally protectant outer skin to ward off food-borne illnesses — also provide enough nutritional and health benefits that including them in your recipes will help your body develop a healthy gut, fight off inflammation, and potentially help your body fight off cancer. So it’s worthwhile to get the most out of this natural ninja.
Sneaking it into your recipes could be the equivalent of sneaking spinach into your berry smoothies – but with the added bonus of adding flavor rather than flying under the radar.
We suggest you start small with this Basil, Walnut and Sweet Onion Pesto. The onions hiding inside this sweet onion pesto give a boost to any meal or snack. Use it to top crackers, garnish pizzas, fill sandwiches, or as a spread for your favorite avocado toast.
Basil, Walnut, Sweet Onion Pesto
Makes about 1 cup
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium white onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 ½ cups packed fresh basil leaves
¼ cup chopped raw walnuts
5 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high. Add the onion and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until lightly browned and softened. Set aside to cool.
Add the basil and the cooled onions to a small food processor. Pulse 4 to 5 times until finely chopped. Add the walnuts, cheese, lemon juice, remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and salt. Puree 30 to 45 seconds, until all ingredients are combined and the walnuts and cheese make the pesto almost creamy in appearance. Add more salt if desired. Serve right away or refrigerate for up to 2 days.
Note: If you enjoy the zesty bite of raw sweet onions, you can make this pesto without sautéing the onions first. Simply add all the ingredients to the food processor.
Recipe and photos for the National Onion Association by Lori Rice.