Growing up, whenever we would order Chinese food, my mom would add extra soy sauce to the already deeply tan fried rice (in Scarborough in the 80s’, any Chinese food delivery option was still geared to meeting Western expectations, not being authentic or, you know, delicious necessarily), sprinkling salty packets of pitch black sauce over her plate. To that, she would add crisp slices of raw, white onion, and alternate bites of crunchy onion and soft and salty spoonfuls of rice. The combination is bold and delicious. I also love biting into the raw onion that accompanies Turkish pide, or similarly, chopping some raw onion to eat with oil-slicked, warm, herb-dusted (like zataar) flatbread at home.

Try it yourself! You will love. You will not be able to stop.

Unless you are in that odd camp of people who hates onions. My partner, James, hates onions. He’ll still cook with them once in a while and he likes French Onion Soup, but he will eat around any obvious pieces of cooked onions on his plate and he would explode and fall to the ground in ashes if he took a bite of a raw onion, or so his reaction to the idea would suggest. I love onions and the only reason I don’t eat them raw more often is out of consideration for the world around me, so if you ride the Bloor-Danforth subway line daily, you’re welcome. But these roasted shallots are exactly the kind of dinner I make when James is not around. Smelly, strong, too-rich, and all-around good. I’d eat these with some buttered bread to pick up the very sweet, slightly spicy sauce and 5-minute-chilled light red wine. Oh and yes, these are good wherever you need a roasted side dish too.

roasted harissa shallots

Roasted Harissa Shallots

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp harissa paste
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 lbs shallots, peeled but roots intact and trimmed to the base, larger ones halved lengthwise
Red wine vinegar

Preheat the oven to 450F degrees. Add the oil, butter harissa paste, thyme and salt to a large bowl and mix well. Add the shallots and toss well to combine. Roast in a baking dish for 30 minutes, turning once, until the shallots are soft, completely cooked and starting to brown. Then mix well and broil for 3-5 minutes to make the tops brown in some spots. At this point the shallots will be incredibly sweet and delicious as they are. If you prefer to cut the sweetness a little or balance the dish, drizzle very lightly with some red wine vinegar, mix well and serve.

Makes 6-8 side servings.