These onions—sweet inside, charred at the edges, and swimming in a tart pomegranate syrup—started their life at Testi, a north London Turkish restaurant that we love, where a similar dish is made by charring onions next to lamb on the grill, then tossing them in şalgam, a juice made from the sour-salty brine of fermented purple carrots and turnips, and finally sweetening them with pomegranate molasses. The bittersweet onions are served alongside the meat, cutting through its fattiness like a sharp knife.
Our onions are made with reduced pomegranate juice instead of molasses and şalgam. They would obviously sit well alongside grilled meats, but we find them totally delicious also in a vegetarian context, with or without the goat cheese, which is optional. They will go really well with hummus (like our hummus with lemon, fried garlic, and chile, an eggplant salad (see eggplant with herbs and crispy garlic), and some bread.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F/200°C fan. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Heat a large nonstick frying pan on high heat until very hot. Toss the onions with 2 tbsp of the olive oil and ¼ tsp salt and place them, cut-side down and spread apart, in the hot pan. Place a saucepan on top to weight the onions down and create an even char, then decrease the heat to medium-high and cook, undisturbed, for about 6 minutes, or until the cut sides are deeply charred. Transfer the onions to the prepared baking sheet, charred-side up, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until softened. (If your onions are larger than golf ball–size, this may take longer.) Set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, put the pomegranate juice into a medium saucepan on medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 12 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced to about 5 tbsp/75ml and is the consistency of a loose maple syrup. Set aside to cool; it will thicken as it sits.
- Combine the chives with the remaining 3 tbsp olive oil and a good pinch of salt and set aside.
- Pour the pomegranate syrup onto a large platter with a lip and swirl it around to cover most of the plate. Use your hands to loosely separate the onions into individual petals, then place them haphazardly over the syrup. Dot with the goat cheese, if using, then spoon on the chive oil and finish with the Urfa chile flakes before serving.
Reprinted with permission from Ottolenghi Flavor by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage copyright © 2020. Photographs copyright © 2020 by Jonathan Lovekin, except page 211 © Louise Hagger. Illustrations copyright © 2020 by Nishant Choksi. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.