You read it right, folks, scalloped onion pie. If you had heard of it, you are one step ahead of me, because when I dug this up out of my little recipe box that has my grandma’s recipes written down, I had to look at it twice.
No potatoes. Nothing but onions and cheese.
There are lots of onion pie recipes out there, but all of them use eggs and other ingredients. When I searched, I couldn’t find a single recipe like this, without egg, without fancy spices.
This month’s challenge for the Canadian Food Experience Project was to talk about the Canadian harvest in our region and share a treasured recipe. While this isn’t a recipe that I have ever eaten or made before, it certainly is treasured.
When I pulled out this recipe and really thought about it for a while, I could clearly see the Canadian Prairie farm folk influence. What ingenuity, what frugal and smart cooking this is!
You use up three onions in a pie for dinner, vegetables that are usually only reserved for small bits of flavor and are always merely an “addition” in recipes, not the feature ingredient.
This is true Canadian farm cooking at it’s finest. It’s frugal, it makes use of a prolific vegetable that grows almost like a weed, stores well in the winter and is cheap to grow. This would have been a meal that cost mere pennies to make, especially since it uses such a very small quantity of cheese. Lard would have been rendered from your own animals, flour bought at the store and cheese made or purchased as well.
This was a “making do” recipe if I have ever seen one.
This would have been served as an inexpensive filling side dish with meat, to warm the bellies after a long hard day’s work on the farm.
As skeptical as I was, this turned out to be amazing. My son ate two helpings and we had it with a gorgeous roasted chicken as the main dish.
Rare has a recipe had me thinking so hard about the purpose of it. This recipe resonated with me so deeply about how lucky we are, how spoiled, how out of touch with the farm we are now, living in the city.
Gone are the days where true ingenuity in creating food was born out of necessity, now during our harvest it’s all about how we can make the fanciest pumpkin desserts or the like.
This recipe is a by-gone treasure of the days where harvest meant you made it through the winter and if you had to eat a pie that was all onions, well, at least you fed your family until spring.
Makes you think, doesn’t it?
On another note, it also is a really fabulous side dish. If you like onions, then you simply must try this. Try this and think of where it comes from, the hardy prairie folk who invented recipes like this to make use of their harvest in the best ways possible.
** Remember to join ZIPLIST to create your own online recipe box and then click SAVE on my recipe below to add it! I use my online recipe box ALL the time! **
- 1 pastry recipe3 large onions sliced1/2 cup grated cheeseWhite sauce: 1 tbsp butter1 tbsp flour1/2 cup of milk1/ 4 tsp salt1/4 tsp pepper
- Prepare pastry and line a 9 inch pie plate. Reserve pastry for the top.Steam the onions for 10-15 minutes until tender.Let onions cool and remove any extra liquid.Place a layer of onions in the pie dish then cheese, top with the remainder of the onions.Prepare the white sauce.In a small sauce pan, melt the butter and add the flour and spices,mix together.Mix in the milk slowly, combining until there are no lumps.Heat the liquid until it's thickend and comes to a boil.Pour the white sauce over the onions in the dish evenly.Place top pie crust on top, pinch seams to seal and cut vents for steam.Bake at 450 degrees on the bottom rack in your oven for 10 minutes.Reduce the heat to 350 and cook another 35 minutes, until the pie is nicely browned.Serve with meat.
The Canadian Food Experience Project began June 7 2013. As participants share stories across the vastness of our Canadian landscape through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity through the cadence of our collective Canadian voice.