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Cinnamon Onion Flowers with Maple Roasted Walnuts [vegan, gluten-free]

Onions, cut so the layers drop like petals when baked–don’t onion flowers look cool, inviting?  These allium flowers are baked with a maple syrup, vinegar, and cinnamon glaze, and then sprinkled with maple roasted walnuts. Cinnamon onion flowers with maple roasted walnuts are a savory treat to remember.

Cinnamon Onion Flowers with Maple Roasted Walnuts | Letty's Kitchen

Vegetable Literacy, by Deborah Madison, came as a birthday gift. Like the red satin page marker in a Bible, this cookbook has a light green satin ribbon bound into the book. Right now, you pull on the green ribbon, it will open to a recipe for Grilled Onions with Cinnamon Butter, the divine inspiration for these cinnamon onion flowers with maple roasted walnuts. Sometimes it’s best to not mess around with a perfect recipe, but I did. This recipe is vegan—no butter. It’s not Ms. Madison’s recipe, but it’s dang delicious in its own way.

My birthday came around last week, just as expected. It’s usually on or around Memorial Day, and even if the weather is hard to predict, a three-day birthday weekend is a bonus.  Here in the mountains we say, if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute. Even if the weather is not convenient—birthdays are for celebrating.

Two years ago Robbie threw me a birthday fiesta in Park City. It snowed. We were all huddling under propane heaters on the deck, donning puffy down parkas.

Just when you think heading south to Utah’s red rock country is playing it safe, you get triple digit temps. Like the birthday it was so hot we humans melted like candles on a cake. Good thing it was a private bike trip because there weren’t many clothes being worn that weekend.

onion root vs top for Cinnamon Onion Flowers with Maple Roasted Walnuts | Letty's Kitchen

Root and top of onion

cut onions for Cinnamon Onion Flowers with Maple Roasted Walnuts | Letty's Kitchen

Cinnamon Onion Flowers

Cinnamon Onion Flowers with Maple Roasted Walnuts notes:

  • I served cinnamon onion flowers on a bed of steamed quinoa.
  • For comparison, I roasted both walnuts and pecans. These photos show maple pecans, but the maple roasted walnuts won the test—the slight bitterness in the skins proved to be a nice balance for the sweet, salty and spice.
  • Regular yellow onions win out over sweet onions here. Even though sweet onions are, well, sweet, the long cooking time will bring out plenty of sweetness in any onion, and you want that onion sharpness that isn’t quite there in sweet onions.
  • These onions weighed more than ½ pound. Next time I will choose the smallest onions in the bin. I want the flowers to seem more delicate. If you can only find large onions, plan on half an onion flower per person—not everyone love onions as much as Robbie and I do.
  • And if butter is fine for you, drizzle your grilled onion flowers with cinnamon butter, following the recipe right out of Vegetable Literacy.

I am grateful for three-day weekends, especially on my birthday. What are you grateful for?

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Cinnamon Onion Flowers
Cinnamon Onion Flowers with Maple Roasted Walnuts [vegan, gluten-free]
These roasted onion flowers are unique and fun. The cinnamon spice and maple-roasted nuts make a delicious savory treat. You and everyone you serve are going to adore this recipe.
Servings: 4 onion flowers
Author: Letty Flatt
Ingredients
  • Onions:
  • 4 small onions (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Walnuts:
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
Instructions
  1. The onions:
  2. Trim the root end of each onion so they stand flat with the root intact. Slice about ¼ inch from the tops. Peel the onions.
  3. Cut each onion in half but not all the way through—leave ½-inch uncut at the root end. Cut again to make 4 sections and then twice more so you end up with 8 wedges of onion that are still intact at the root end.
  4. Pre-heat grill to medium-high temperature. (see note)
  5. Mix the vinegar, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt and cayenne.
  6. Tear 4 pieces of aluminum foil at least 12-inches wide. Rub the foil pieces with olive oil; place an onion on each piece.
  7. Spoon the vinegar mixture over the onions. Wrap the foil up over the onions.
  8. Grill the onions 45 to 60 minutes, until they are soft and have opened up. When the onions are almost done, pull the foil away to help char the edges.
  9. While the onions cook, roast the walnuts:
  10. Put the walnuts, maple syrup, salt, cinnamon and cayenne in a skillet.
  11. Cook the nuts on medium-high flame, stirring almost constantly, for about 5 minutes. When the syrup has crystalized and the nuts are slightly browned, remove from the pan. They will crisp as they cool. Chop the nuts coarsely.
  12. Serve the onions over steamed quinoa, sprinkled with maple-roasted walnuts.
Recipe Notes
  • I used sweet onions. When I make these next I am going to try regular yellow onions—I missed the onion taste.
  • For the photos I used larger onions—next time I will choose the smallest onions in the bin.
  • Instead of on the grill, roast onions in a covered pan at 400° F. in the oven.
  • I roasted both walnuts and pecans to compare. Maple roasted walnuts won the test—the slight bitterness in the skins proved to be a nice balance for the sweet, salty and spice.

Cinnamon Onion Flowers

7 comments

  • savvy

    I am grateful for YOU, being able to start my day with your news, your cookbook, your demos @ WilliamsSonoma, and finding magical wonders baked for me at DV on powderdays!! Thanks for ALL you do, and taking me along on your travels, too!! Have a wonderFILLED summer!! Reply · 2 June, 2014

  • Well happy birthday. You’re the first person I ever knew who got onions on her birthday XOGREG Reply · 2 June, 2014

    • Letty

      Haha– but I laughed–no tears. 😉 Reply · 2 June, 2014

  • Happy Birthday Letty! We just returned from Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama scouting our next wellness retreat locations. This recipe sounds absolutely delicious! Looking forward to trying it–pretty presentation! Reply · 3 June, 2014

    • Letty

      Thanks for the note April. Tell me how the onions come out for you. Reply · 3 June, 2014

  • Ok Ms. Letty, sounds like I missed the birthday but I won’t miss this recipe. I have a full bin of onions at the moment and am looking for options. Reply · 22 June, 2014

    • Letty

      And since we both are such fans of Deborah Madison–try the cinnamon butter from Vegetable Literacy with your onions as well. You could cut the recipe in half–it makes more cinnamon butter than needed. Plus you want to try my vegan version as well! Reply · 22 June, 2014

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