Serious Eats: Recipes

Seriously Italian: Onion and Rosemary Confiturra

"In the midst of so many other big flavors, rosemary's tendency to overwhelm is muted to a pleasant back note."

This past weekend I was given my annual windfall of lush, deep-green rosemary from my cousin Armand's herb garden. Not a mere handful of sprigs—I'm talking about an entire paper bag of the stuff. I dry some of the load for the winter, but my heart always tells me to use as much as possible while it is fresh and loaded with essential oil.

Rosemary's flavor is strongest in the summer, and that strength means that you either have to use it sparingly or match it with equally strong players that can march alongside its assertiveness. A perfect example is this sweet and sour onion jam, or confiturra. Slow, careful reduction capitalizes on the natural sweetness of onions, and being jacked up with balsamic vinegar and honey provide the perfect vehicle for rosemary to release its full, resin-y qualities. There's something liberating about grabbing an otherwise scary amount of this herb and tossing it into a pot with wild abandon. In the midst of so many other big flavors, rosemary's tendency to overwhelm is muted to a pleasant back note.

Exercise your freedom with the onions, too. The confiturra works wonderfully with white, yellow, and red onions, or a mix of all three. Either way, it's a bargain; onions are still relatively cheap, and the full recipe below yields about three cups of confiturra. I pack it into canning jars, leaving me one to store in the pantry, one to keep in the refrigerator, and give one as a gift.

Three jars provide so many truly delicious options. I love to toast some bread rounds, spread them with fresh ricotta and add a generous layer of the confiturra, a perfect late afternoon snack to have with apertivi. It is heavenly on a steak sandwich or with any other grilled or roasted meat. Bake it onto pizza or foccacia dough with some olive oil and fresh black pepper, or toss it in pasta—try it with rigatoni, roasted cauliflower, and a grating of grana padano or ricotta salata.

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After you've sliced the mountain of onions, don't forget to use Julia Child's trick for getting the onion smell off your hands, knife, bowls and board: give them a good scrub with kosher salt and rinse with cool water. It works every time.

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