Monsoon Madness

Photo editing by Calvin Hamilton

Like an astral collision, it yanks me from the deepest of dreams. Heart pounding, I wait. Then it comes again, a percussion onslaught. Electric webs force fed from the sky to ground and then, softly but growing steadily, like the paw steps from an army of schnauzers. Rain. I smile and return to sleep.

Welcome to the desert monsoon season. It begins with a very dry heat usually in the month of May. As temperatures rise to triple digits sometimes for days on end, the jetstream shifts Northward bringing moisture from the Mexican Sea of Cortez. The arrival of moist air together with the drastic heat causes cumulous clouds and leads to theatrical displays of lightning and a symphony of thunder. Our monsoon officially begins June 15th and is finished by September 30th. On evenings like last night, we garner a full inch of glorious rain. But the desert Southwest isn’t the only locale for these adventurous storms.

Monsoon has Arabic roots from the word mausim, which means – a season. It originally described winds over the Arabian sea, blowing from the Northeast for six months and then from the Southwest for another six months. One often thinks of India as a monsoon area partially due to Mira Nair’s creation; Monsoon Wedding.

Like unpredictable weather patterns everywhere, this year the Indian Monsoon has been sketchy. This is especially difficult for the onion producing regions of Maharashtra and Gujarat where they are witnessing a drop in onion production by almost by half. Onions are a daily ingredient in many Indian kitchens and the decline in harvest will definitely affect domestic onion prices but also India’s ability to export.

I’m as finicky as the Maharashtra monsoon when it comes to onions. I know that red onions are a good source of fiber, B6, Folate, Potassium, and an excellent source of vitamin C but I can’t eat them raw unless it’s just a tiny bit sneaked in somewhere. In history, they’re credited with everything from enhancing the bravery of Alexander the Great’s soldiers to remedying baldness and good breath. Our monsoon season has brought out the onions in full force. This weekend we are truly inundated with red onions to be precise. They mellow nicely when roasted and combined with other flavors become a delicious salad or side dish.
 
Baked Red Onions with Walnut Salsa
adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi
serves 5

Ingredients

  • 8-10 small to medium red onions
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 2 cups loosely packed arugula (optional)
  • handful of parsley leaves
  • 4 oz soft goat’s cheese, cut into 1 inch chunks (optional)

For the salsa

  • 1/3 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 3 Tbs red-wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs olive oil


Preheat the oven to 400. Peel the onions and cut off the tops and tails. Cut each onion widthways into three slices about 3/4 inch thick, and place on a baking tray. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle over 1/2 teaspoon of salt and some freshly ground pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, until cooked and golden-brown on top. If they haven’t taken on much colour, pop them under the grill for a few minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.

While the onions are cooking, put all the ingredients for the salsa in a small bowl, add 1/2 tsp of salt, stir and set aside.

To serve, place arugula and parsley in a large bowl. Add the warm onions, the cheese and half the salsa, and toss gently – you don’t want the onions to fall apart. Divide between five shallow bowls or plates and spoon over the remaining salsa.

Previous Post
Leave a comment

71 Comments

  1. Yum! I used to love the monsoon season in the Sonoran Desert and really miss it.

    Reply
    • I also love it. There is something so reassuring about it for me. The salad is fantastic too.

      Reply
  2. What a beautiful salad. I love roasting red onions too. And that walnut salsa sounds delicious xx

    Reply
  3. Yum! I love onions and I am from Maharashtra so yeah! Totally get your post. The Indian monsoon has been very erratic this year but its been raining heavy for the past couple of days. Hopefully like last year the price of onions would not reach 160 rupees/kilo :0

    Reply
    • I’m so happy this spoke to you. I don’t love onions but I love them this way and in Indian dishes. Here’s to a rain dance and prayer for your monsoons!!

      Reply
  4. This was so wonderfully written and full of interesting info! I loved learning about the monsoon (didn’t know that!) and about roasting onions (didn’t know that either!) Thank you Tammy! The salad not only sounds tasty, it looks beautiful too!

    Reply
  5. These look divine!

    I remember when I lived in Arizona we had a lot of Monsoons. I am glad I don’t have to deal with that where I live now. I am still scared of the thunder and lightening!

    Come and share your delicious recipe with the rest of the CSA link party…http://inherchucks.com/2012/08/23/whats-in-the-box-40/. Looking forward to seeing you there 🙂

    Reply
    • You used to live in AZ? how long ago and where? Will pop over with the link

      Reply
      • I moved from AZ 3 years ago before I got married. I was living in Tucson at the time. I went to U of A and stayed there when I graduated to work as a social worker.

        Reply
  6. May the abundance continue!

    Reply
  7. those look delicious!

    Reply
  8. I’m pretty excited about that walnut salsa – I’m giving that one a try this week!

    I don’t know if Arizona would be the place for me… I suppose lightening rods are pretty significant there : )

    Reply
  9. That walnut salsa is someting special & to top that on top of these stunning baked red onions must be very well-flavoured! Yummy Yum!

    Reply
  10. Your description of the coming of the rain was just perfect…I could feel it! I love the “army of schnauzers”! I love the sounds of this salad, too…thank you!

    Reply
  11. Your salad looks gorgeous.
    I love onions . . . cooked, not raw. 😀

    Reply
  12. Loved learning about the origins of the word monsoon! Beautiful food too!

    Reply
  13. That looks awesome, and I have 1000 CSA onions to use up!

    Reply
  14. Lisa H

     /  August 27, 2012

    Wow, that onion and lightning photo combo is amazing! We love watching the monsoon storms; their power is incredible. We watched in awe and disappointment as a monsoon storm blew down our beloved mesquite tree years ago.
    Roasted onions are fantastic. Like you, I’m not too fond of raw onions, but cooked are always good, especially with the caramelized edges when roasted. your salad looks amazing.

    Reply
    • Calvin did that photo for me and I need to give him credit! I love the monsoons. This salad was very good. I’m thinking the leftovers can be dropped into pasta later in the week.

      Reply
  15. The mouthwatering pictures are enough to make me want to make this for breakfast! Yum! BTW, “army of schnauzers”? Whenever I hear rain from a thunderstorm, I’ll be reminded of my sweet dog who passed over to the Rainbow Bridge two years past. Many grateful thanks.

    Reply
  16. Lovely pictures. Great writing!!

    Reply
  17. I have always wante dto witness the arrival of a monsoon, I’ve been inthe middle and end but never the beginning. Maybe one day.
    The recipe looks mouthwateringly delicious, Yottam is certainly creative and clever.
    Have you tried soaking slices of onion in water for about 15 to 30 minutes, it takes the heat off them.

    Reply
    • I haven’t tried soaking them but I could. And this is my first rub with Yottam and I love the creativity. Definitely will be watching his other veg dishes.

      Reply
  18. Can’t speak to India but in AZ, I love how Mother Nature always knows exactly when to cool us down. A week of record heat, then a week of evening thunderstorms. I gave up on my melons and squash in July but let the vines wander to keep the soil cool. After the rains this month, I now have some of the most delicious fruit I’ve ever grown. Sometimes Mother Nature also knows when to kick the novice gardener into the house to teach him the lesson to let things alone to grow for awhile!

    Reply
    • You can never get the same result from watering that you’ll get from rain. My grandmother taught me that and I believe it.

      Reply
  19. PERFECT! I’m going to make this right now…lunch will be divine!

    Linda
    http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com
    http://deltacountyhistoricalsociety.wordpress.com

    Reply
  20. Great link between monsoon season and onions! I was starting to wander in a more metaphorical and philosophical direction with your speaking of unpredictable seasons in life, but was just as glad that you pulled me back down to earth with a discussion about red onions.:)

    Reply
    • Oh, rain is philosophical and spiritual isn’t it? That good old cleansing. I always think of Elijah and I always give thanks when I hear it. Thankful for onions too.

      Reply
  21. What a clever and attractive way to use a lot of onions! Alas, our harvest has so slow that I’ve had to buy store onions this summer!

    Reply
  22. Oh, I just love cooked onions, how they turn all sweet when cooked. I remember the MASSIVE thunderstorms we had when I lived in Colorado, it was usually between 4 and 6 pm in the summer months…

    Reply
  23. Great way to use up all your red onions, looks deliciously sweet!

    Reply
  24. It’s disconcerting to hear about how changing weather patterns are affecting food production all over the globe. Among other things, I’m wondering how it will change the way people honor their food traditions.

    Reply
  25. I love red onions any-which-way, Tammy! And this post is inspiring. Sorry I’ve been quiet this summer. Looking forward to trying these dishes.

    Reply
  26. wow. that looks so good. yum.

    Reply
  27. I like the idea of making onions the star of the show.

    Reply
  28. Reblogged this on meanlittleboy2 and commented:
    fantastic article enjoy

    Reply
  29. This looks and sounds so good!

    Reply
  30. Oh, totally delicious, Tammy! Must try this recipe, thank you!

    Reply
    • I was a bit surprised that the inspiration came from the Guardian, Kate. Are you familiar with his cooking? I wasn’t.

      Reply
  31. love the lyrical introduction to this post, and learning the words behind the word, monsoon. I am happy with onions in just about any form: this recipe looks terrific.

    Reply
    • Onions take center stage – it is beautiful and delicious although it didn’t make for very good leftovers.

      Reply
  32. Wow! The first image blew my mind. Electrifying post indeed. An Art that is a delight to the taste buds. Have a great day!

    Reply
  33. Great photos! What a fun recipe idea too 😀 What a delicious sounding meal, nom nom hahaha. Thanks for the fun post 🙂

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: