Wednesday, April 11, 2012

texas sweet onion casserole with rice, chipotle and Gruyere

texas sweet onion and rice casserole chipotle gruyere

In New York City, certain Texan foods can be scarce. So whenever I do see them, I buy up the whole lot in fear I won’t have the opportunity again. For instance, if I see ruby red grapefruit in the winter, I buy up enough to fill my small refrigerator ensuring that I’ll be getting plenty of vitamin C in the next few days. Or in the spring, it’s the arrival of the Texas sweet 1015 onions that has me loading my entire basket with one single item.

Texas sweet 1015 onions, so named because you’re supposed to plant them on October 15, spent many years in development at Texas A&M, which resulted in the sweetest onions I’ve ever tasted. While eating uncooked onions is not something I usually enjoy, with the 1015 sweet onions it’s different—they are so mild and succulent I could eat a whole one raw with little more than a sprinkle of salt and a dash of balsamic vinegar.

That said, they’re mighty fine cooked, too. They’re my favorite onion for making onion rings and they’re also wonderful when you caramelize them and throw them on top of baked potatoes, stack them on hamburgers or stir them into sour cream for a delicious dip.

texas 1015 sweet onions

The 1015 has a very short season—they only grow from April to late May. And this is why when I do encounter them I buy as many as I can carry because I might not see them again, which is just what I did last week. As I worked through my latest acquisition, I’d eaten them in the ways mentioned above, but I still had a few left. While I wasn’t getting tired of them, I was looking for something new. And that’s when I learned about Texas 1015 sweet onion and rice casserole.

When I was soliciting new ideas for eating my onions, a friend mentioned that a casserole one of her favorite ways of enjoying them. While she didn’t have a recipe she did know that rice and cheese were involved. How can you go wrong with that? My interest was piqued.

A little research lead me to a host of methods but most of them involved cooking the rice in half-and-half as the casserole baked, which can sometimes lead to uneven results. So instead I simply tossed together cooked rice with cooked onions, stirred in some sour cream, chipotle chiles, garlic and some spices, then I topped it with Gruyere cheese and threw it in the oven. After baking, it smelled wonderful but its monochromatic appearance was a bit bland so I livened it up with a splash of cilantro for green.

The result was like a savory rice pudding and it was definitely just as comforting. It makes for an excellent side dish, though if you wanted to add some bacon, pinto beans or chorizo, it could work as a main dish, too.

texas sweet onion and rice casserole chipotle gruyere

May you enjoy this year’s sweet onions soon and often. I know I will, as it’s one of the best things about spring!

Texas sweet onion casserole with rice, chipotle and Gruyere

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large Texas sweet 1015 onions, peeled and chopped (about 2 pounds)
3 cups cooked rice
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch of cayenne
2 cloves garlic
1 or 2 chipotle chiles en adobo, diced (depending on how hot you want it)
2 cups sour cream
2 cups shredded Gruyere (8 ounces), divided
Salt to taste
Chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)

Method:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large ovenproof skillet, preferably cast iron, on low heat melt the butter. Add the chopped onion and while occasionally stirring cook for 10 minutes until soft.

Meanwhile, stir together the cooked rice, cumin, allspice, cayenne, garlic, chipotle chile, sour cream and 1/2 cup of the Gruyere cheese. Taste and adjust seasonings, then add salt to taste. Add rice mixture to the skillet and stir until onions are mixed well with the rice. (Alternatively, you can bake the casserole in a greased 10-inch baking pan.) Top with the rest of the Gruyere cheese and bake for 30 minutes uncovered or until brown and bubbling. Serve topped with cilantro, if you like.

Yield: 8 servings

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55 comments:

Caroline @ Pink Basil said...

YUMMM - I love anything with onions (I'm kinda weird that way).

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Caroline--There's nothing weird about that!

Celeste said...

This looks wonderful; I bet it would be good tucked into a burrito...that is, if you had any leftovers!

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

Lately, I've been putting carmelized onions on everything! I'll give this a try this weekend, there are some Vidalias in the market right now that will probably work!!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Celeste--That would be a great way to use up any leftovers.

Rocky Mountain Woman--This would absolutely work with Vidalias!

Unknown said...

I'm a big fan of the Noonday onion. Absolutely worth the haul out to Tyler to get them. Come to think of it, my gas pedal foot has been getting itchy. Might just be time for a road trip!

Sue/the view from great island said...

This sounds fabulous, I am posting a Vidalia Onion dish tomorrow---it's that time of year when so many of my favorite foods come into season. This is such an interesting new way to serve rice as a side dish, which I usually avoid just because it can be so 'blah'. Thanks!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Unknown--It's always a good time for a road trip!

Sue--Yep, it's a wonderful time of year!

Jacey said...

That sounds incredible! And I agree; the 1015 onions are my favorite.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Jacey--Aren't they wonderful?

ileana said...

I'd never heard of this onion, but wow, sweet and mild enough to eat raw? I need to find one!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Ileana--Best wishes in your quest!

Sarah said...

Oh! I love me some Texas Sweet 1015's. Alas, I have yet to find them in Virginia. Still want to try this, though. Yum!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Sarah--Do you have a Whole Foods near you? That's where I found mine.

Debbi Does Dinner Healthy said...

I've never heard of those onions! I'll have to keep an eye out. The casserole sounds wonderful, I love onions.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Debbi--If for some reason you can't find them, you can substitute Vidalia or Walla Walla sweet onions.

Louisa said...

This looks great Lisa, unfortunately though, you can't get these onions here in Australia. I always love to see new posts from you anyway and later this week, I'm finally getting my hands on your book. Can't wait!

lpburke86 said...

Woah woah woah WHOAH..... Ruby reds are rare there? Why in the world would you want to live in a place like that?

Nicola @41feasts said...

Its gone back to being grey and cold in Newcastle (UK) and we're in need of comfort food with a spring feeling. With half a tin of chipotle chiles en adobo in the fridge and a freezer full of chorizo, thank you for sorting out this weekend's dinner Lisa!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Louisa--You can make this with any kind of sweet onion.

lpburke86--Yes, they can be.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Nicola--You're very welcome and hopefully warmer days are in your near future!

Marialice said...

What kind of rice do you use? I love converted rice but sometimes things do better with just extra long grain. And thanks for the reminder about the 1015's, I remember trucks on the roadside selling them some years back during a stent in east Texas.

Mary

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Mary--I prefer long grain but you can use converted.

Winnie said...

Hi! I am in NYC too..I haven't seen these onions around...hmmm...Farmers market maybe? If I can't find them can I substitute Vidalias? I know they are mild and sweet.. I want to hunt out thes 1015..love the name!! Thanks for your fun site..I made your Dr Pepper Ribs the other night and they are heaven!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Winnie--In NYC, Whole Foods is selling them now and yes, you can substitute Vidalia onions, too.

Anonymous said...

How 'bout I sub greek yogurt for the sour cream? I've been doing that a lot lately, and frankly it's just as delicious...with none of the fat.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Anon--Go for it!

The Cozy Herbivore said...

YUM! I love casseroles, and the idea of a savory rice pudding sounds just divine! This looks fantastic, I can't wait to try it!

tejasjeff said...

Normally I cant take my favorite Tex Mex dish anymore- Good old Cheese Enchiladas drowned in Onions and Chili Gravy.When the 1015s roll in , I indulge.
You really do need to refrigerate them once you get them home. They are so full of liquid compared to a regular onion ,they tend to mold or rot more than a normal onion. Your Recipe sounds delicious btw.

Heather Laurel said...

This sounds fantastic. I'm going to head to Whole Foods tomorrow and cook this up this weekend. Thanks Lisa!

Shelley said...

As a displaced Texan, I'm wondering: can I get these onions in Sacramento?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Cozy Herbivore--Enjoy!

tejasjeff--They're so good on cheese enchiladas! And thanks for the storage tip.

Heather--You're very welcome. Enjoy!

Shelley--Not sure but If not, you can use Walla Walla onions instead.

Katie@Cozydelicious said...

This casserole looks warm and homey and wonderful! Simple but full of spice - yum!!

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar said...

This sounds absolutely lovely! Yum!

Samba00 said...

Lisa,

Which Whole Foods? Please say Tribeca, though I suppose I could schlep uptown like I did last year for Hatch.

Elizabeth said...

Uh, sorry I am one of the few who only READ blogs, I don't have one. But I'll use my name, I want to be friendly and all. I am after all a displaced-kind-of-Texan. I digress. Made the casserole and hold your fire, I used Walla wallas since that's what we have up here in the PNW. I used Frank's Red Hot since I didn't have chipotle peppers in the pantry. Served with BBQ chicken thighs. It was great. THanks for dinner tonight. It's a keeper and best of all, easy.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Katie--It's definitely comfort food!

Katrina--It is indeed!

Samba00--Mine were from Chelsea, but call Tribeca as they might have them, too.

Elizabeth--Like how you adapted it and so pleased that you enjoyed it. Sounds great with BBQ chicken thighs!

Caroline Grahmann Gardner said...

They just showed up in our local HEB... will definitely have to try this!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Caroline--Enjoy!

Ashley said...

Lisa... my best friend Lisa... every single time I have someone coming over for dinner... I make something of yours and they ALWAYS say it is just like a restaurant. Don't worry... I always refer them back to you. But it doesn't end there. You have changed my life. If you are what you eat, that is. I made your grapefruit pecan cake three times in a row. As soon as it was gone I had to make another one. This cheesy onion rice brought me to my knees. As a homesick Texan stuck in Idaho (I'll insert your sympathies here.) I could go no longer without paying homage to you... the patron saint of southern cooking. I kneel before your cast iron altar hungry for more. Keep it coming. Your website is my cooking Bible.

Freedom Five said...

new to your blog....why don't you just move back to Texas! :-) love all the food. Not sure what to try first....

Megan said...

I picked some of those up this evening, and they're happily simmering away in my veggie chili. YUM!

Anonymous said...

Just found your blog and I am ecstatic!!! We are displaced Texans living in the Midwest. I plan to order your cookbook. Thank you so much!
Michelle

Anonymous said...

dear lisa,, i missed your DR PEPPER RIBS,, could you repost that ,, please,, i'm 68yrs. old and i've yet to cook good ribs. i,ve been cooking all my life,, and i'm from the OZARKS,, but ribs get me every time. i use alot of your receips. thanks so much sharon

Anonymous said...

I have heard the origin of the name for 1015 onions attributed to the planting time. Actually the onion was developed at the Texas A&M Experimental Agricultural Station just outside of Westlaco on FM 1015... Just sayin'!

Anonymous said...

I made this yesterday and it turned out well but can you recommend another cheese? I halved the recipe and the gruyere was still $5 making it a pricy side dish!

PS This Texas girl loves your site

Emma said...

This sounds fabulous, I shall have to try it with a particularly sweet variety of white British onion as I'm sure we can't get 1015s over here! I wonder if there's a way to do it starting with raw rice and some stock or similar? I almost never have cooked leftover rice in the house so might experiment...

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Ashley--Thank you for the kind words--I'm so pleased you're enjoying the recipes!

Freedom Five--It's all good!

Megan--They will make a fine addition to chili. Enjoy!

Michelle--Welcome!

Sharon--Here's the recipe for the Dr Pepper ribs.

Anon--You could try regular swiss cheese, Monterey Jack, or pepper Jack.

Emma--You could definitely do that, just adjust the cooking time.

tariqata said...

I changed this up to fit with what I had on hand (leftover green rice, some sauteed vegetables, queso fresco, and homemade roasted tomato salsa, plus boring yellow onions), and it was *delicious*. It might have been different in flavour than yours, but still, I have to thank you for the inspiration!

Jenijen said...

Making this this weekend now that I've found the onions. I tried Whole Foods, then called two indy markets that brag on their produce and none of them knew what I was talking about. (One was exceptionally rude). Finally I walked to my corner Safeway to get some Hawaiian sweet onions and there they were! They had bags of small ones and loose big ones. I found the produce manager, thanked him, shook his hand, and explained that he was helping me treat my terrible homesickness. I'm so tempted to drive over to the rude market and show him the label from the bag, but I've got better ways to spend my time, right? :)

Claire said...

So good - we added rotisserie chicken, used cheddar, served in a tortilla with fresh guacamole on top - amazing! I also feel that it reminds me of a yellow squash casserole my mom used to make!
also, had to share that a Georgia friend says that they hang vidallia onions in pantyhose when they are in season to keep them from rotting. could be useful!

Jeannie said...

Hi Lisa - Love your blog!! Back in the early 80's, my ex-husband was working on his degree in Agronomy at Texas A&M and his field of sorghum was right next door to Dr. Pike's (the creator of the Texas 1015)onion plot. I can still remember the wonderful smell of those onions - even though they were still in the ground! I live in Colordo now and the 1015s have just arrived at local stores. Knowing they won't be around for long, I stocked up and then hung them in my garage (old pantyhose work great for this!) With luck, I'll have beautiful onions well into the Fall.

Kari said...

Just to echo Anon. above, I'm pretty sure 1015s are named after the Farm to Market road near where they were created.

There's a farmer up here in Iowa who grows them now! I can't wait until they come into the farmers' market (usually late May).

elzpeth said...

Making this tonight (1015s ARE named for the planting date). I'm going to omit the chipotle, since this is being served with smoky BBQ chicken. Will sub some chopped green chile instead. And no cilantro. But it sounds great! Greetings from the Rio Grande Valley!

Amanda said...

I just made this (well, at least a casserole based on it) and it is good eating! I saw the link at the bottom saying "You might also like..." with a link to nopal casserole, so I decided to throw in some leftover nopales as well as some ground beef. I'm already looking forward to lunch tomorrow! Thanks!

~Amanda, a former Houstonian

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