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Caramelized onions enhance hearty dishes

Add rich, low-fat flavor

Everything tastes better browned ― from the seared crust of a steak to the glassy burnt-sugar top of a crème brûlée ― and caramelized onions are no exception.

Transforming raw onions into a savory, jamlike mixture is simple: cook them slowly in a little oil over low heat so they melt into a sweet golden-brown tangle. Sweet onions such as Vidalia and Oso will caramelize a little faster, but all onions will eventually turn brown and take on a deep, rich flavor that enhances a variety of dishes. The delicious results are well worth the effort.

Ways to use caramelized onions:

•Stir 2 tablespoons balsamic or cider vinegar into onions a few minutes before the end of the cooking time to make a tangy onion relish that's great on sandwiches, crostini, and pizza

•Mix into couscous or rice pilaf

•Fold into an omelet or a frittata

•Toss with cooked pasta and some blue cheese and toasted walnuts

Recipes:

Caramelized Onions

French Onion Soup

Roasted Striped Bass with Warm Lentil Salad