Caramelized Onion and Garlic Bread. Who ever thought that garlic bread could get even better? A sweet garlic-onion-herb butter is smeared over spongy ciabatta, hit with plenty of parmesan, and baked until beautifully browned.
At the risk of ruining my well-established reputation as the pinnacle of all things cool (haaaah), I’ve started doing food trivia questions on my Instagram Stories every Tuesday and I’m kind of living for it. I haven’t figured out what today’s question will be yet, but last week, I asked what food item Ancient Egyptians put a hand on when taking an oath– a fig or an onion.
And seeing as today’s recipe is about Caramelized Onion and Garlic Bread, I’m sure you were able to piece together where that was going. The majority of people at the time guessed fig though! It was a good, tough question. I’m patting myself on the back for it.
Anyway, in researching the whole Ancient Egyptian onion thing, I learned that they had some pretty interesting beliefs regarding onions and garlic. Apparently they were considered symbols of eternal life and were invoked in a ton of ceremonies, as well as buried along with their dead. And you know what, I get it. I’d like to spend all of eternity with onions and garlic.
Just as that thought popped into my head, I clicked on an article from Food52 that advised making a garlic confit butter by slowly cooking the two ingredients together until the garlic is soft and sweet, and then using that to make garlic bread. I thought that sounded like the greatest thing. A thing that could only be made better with the addition of onions, so I gave that idea a go.
I threw thinly sliced onions in with the garlic and butter and cooked it all until sweet, nutty, and golden. Oh, and suuuuuuuper fragrant! Truth be told: I “retested” this recipe a few times solely fore the smell. Well, that and the fact that this is truly the most delicious garlic bread I’ve ever eaten in my entire life, hands down.
Back to that sweet, allium-packed butter, though. I let it cool for a few minutes and then ran it in the food processor along with a little extra fresh garlic (for spice), fresh herbs (like basil and parsley), salt, and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. Once it was smooth, I slathered the buttery puree generously all over a cut loaf of ciabatta and then sprinkled it, again generously, with parmesan. We’re not making Caramelized Onion and Garlic Bread to practice our self-restraint, you know. Generously is a key word when it comes to this bread. Especially in the garlic department.
All garlic bread is garlicky by nature, but few of them are as generously (there I go with that word again) garlicky as this one. Two whole heads of garlic (that’s A LOT of cloves) are used in this recipe, most cooked in the butter until sweet and caramelized, but some added in fresh, as I mentioned before, to add that signature spicy garlic flavor.
And then, of course, there’s the onion. So what exactly does it add to this recipe? Depth. Caramelized onions get almost candy-sweet as the natural sugars cook, but they’re also rich and savory. Something that simple takes the garlic bread from “delicious side dish” to “competing with the star of the show”.
I love the way that the sweetness in the butter spread mirrors the sweetness of a slow-cooked tomato sauce, so if you’re serving spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, this Caramelized Onion and Garlic Bread would make the perfect accompaniment. The onion really is the key to putting a bit of a gourmet spin on the whole thing. Taking it to the next level, if you will.
Or, if the Ancient Egyptians are to be believed, the key to eternal life. But for now, we’ll go with “a gourmet spin”.
Adapted from Food52
- 2 heads garlic, cloves smashed and peeled, divided
- 1/2 small sweet onion, sliced
- 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1 loaf ciabatta or Italian bread
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Red pepper flakes, to taste, optional
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more to serve
- In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine about 3/4 of the garlic, all of the onion, and all of the butter. Allow the butter to melt, then simmer until the onions have caramelized and the butter is golden, about 30 minutes, stirring often. Let cool for 3-5 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400° F.
- Add the butter mixture and the remaining fresh garlic to a food processor and pulse until mostly smooth. Add the herbs, salt, and red pepper flakes, and pulse until combined. Be sure not to over-process, you want the herbs to be well-distributed but not processed to a paste. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Set aside.
- Halve the ciabatta and place on a large baking sheet. Spread the garlic-onion-herb butter evenly over the cut sides of the bread. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
- Score the bread into slices, cutting most but not all of the way through, to make it easy to tear apart after baking. Bake the bread until golden brown, 10-15 minutes. Top with a little extra parmesan and serve.
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