Caramelized onion pitas with goat cheese and prosciutto

(joanne rathe/globe staff)
April 30, 2008

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Serves 4

Georgia's Vidalias are the most recognized brand of super sweet onions, which appear this time of year and stay around until the fall. In fact, Vidalia is the name of a town in the Peach State and there are many similar onions: Texas Spring Sweet and Texas 1015 SuperSweet (the name comes from the planting date of Oct. 15); Walla Walla from Washington state and Oregon; and OsoSweet from South America. In cooking, add more intensity by mixing them with a Spanish, red, or yellow onion. To make the popular onion marmalade, cook onions slowly in a little butter until they caramelize into a golden gooey jam that is good as a condiment beside lamb or grilled chicken; a base for the famous French soup; or as a garnish for focaccia, pizza, or pita. Here, caramelized onions, goat cheese, and slivers of prosciutto cover pita rounds and are heated briefly in a hot oven. Serve them with a salad of arugula and cherry tomatoes. Like Vidalias, the flavor of these softball-size onions is delicate, and they're plenty sweet. They don't contain chemical irritants that make you cry when you slice them. No more tears.

1 tablespoon butter
3 large super sweet onions, halved and thinly sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
4 medium pita rounds (7-to-8-inches)
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
4 ounces prosciutto, cut into thin strips
4 scallions, trimmed and finely chopped
Handful fresh chives, snipped
1. In a large heavy-based skillet, melt the butter. Add the onions and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes, or until the onions release their juices. Turn the heat to medium-high and continue cooking, stirring often, for 10 minutes, or until the onions are very soft, golden, and resemble a jam. Watch carefully so the onions don't burn.

2. Stir in the garlic, thyme, and pepper. (If you like, cover and refrigerate the mixture at this point for 3 or 4 days; let it come to room temperature before using.)

3. Set the oven at 425 degrees. Place the pita rounds on a rimmed baking sheet. Spread a thin layer of onions on the top, add the goat cheese and prosciutto. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until the onion mixture is hot.

4. Transfer to a cutting board. Sprinkle with scallions and chives. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, slice the rounds into quarters. Julie Riven