Somewhere along the line, I’ve become obsessed with onions.  Growing up, my dad used to tell me about a guy he worked with who used to eat onions like apples, and I remember being horrified at the thought. While I still wouldn’t take my obsession that far, I add onions to nearly all of my recipes these days, because they’re such a delicious aromatic.

If you’ve been following my on social media, you know that I have a huge sweet tooth.  So when I first heard of “onion jam”, it immediately piqued my interest.  First, you start by caramelizing the onions- I’m sold already.  Then you add in herbs for more savory flavor, sugar to sweeten the deal even more, and it’s topped off with white balsamic vinegar that adds the perfect tartness to complement the rest of the ingredients.

Serving this sweet-tart onion jam over fresh, soft ricotta creates the most amazing flavor pair. It’s smooth and creamy when your teeth first sink in, and then by the time you get to the crunchy toast beneath, the bite just comes full circle.  Is it an appetizer? Is it a dessert? In my opinion, it could be served for either.

The first time I made this ricotta, I was blown away by its resemblance to the real cheese. In case you’re still turning your nose up at the thought of cheese made out of tofu, let me reassure you- it passed the taste bud test of my non-vegan, non-veggie eating brother, who loves nothing more than to incorporate cheese in every meal he makes.  Plus, it is a low fat, high protein alternative to cheese, perfect to allow for a higher fat intake when it comes to dessert 😉

If you’re still not sold on this flavor combo, skip the onion jam and just smother this ricotta on toast with your favorite herbs and spices- you won’t be disappointed. This recipe will make for the PERFECT appetizer to serve this weekend, and all season long at your holiday parties, especially since the jam and ricotta can be made in advance leaving you with just assembling the day of.  Check the recipe out below, and be sure to tag if you make these and share on social media!

Onion Jam:
2-4T olive oil
4 medium-large yellow onions
2 sprigs rosemary
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup stevia
3/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
3-4T arrowroot powder (natural thickener)

Vegan Ricotta:
1T olive oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 (14-ounce) package extra firm tofu, drained
2T lemon juice
2 tsp sea salt
1.5 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the Jam: Heat a large sauté pan with 2-4T olive oil. Peel and finely dice the onions. Transfer the onions to the pan and cook over high heat until golden brown, stirring occasionally (10-15 minutes).  Meanwhile, tie the rosemary and bay leaves together, add to the onions, and turn the heat to low.  Cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes, then add the sugar and stevia to the pan.  Do NOT stir once the sugar has been added- allow to cook until the sugar melts.  Return the heat to high, cooking until a caramel forms.  At this point, stir in the balsamic vinegar, as you return the heat to low.  Cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add in the arrowroot 1 tablespoon at a time until the jam is sticky and thick. Remove and discard the herb bundle, transfer jam a jar, and store in the fridge.

For the Ricotta: In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil then add the chopped onion. Sauté until softened, then add the minced garlic and sauté until fragrant (~1 minute). Transfer the veggies to a food processor with the remaining ingredients. Blend until thick but smooth.

Notes:

  • I have tried making the onion jam using all stevia, and while it turned out OK, it did have a slight aftertaste, so I prefer using half and half.
  • If you choose to use all regular sugar, you may be able to omit the arrowroot, since regular sugar cooks slightly different than stevia
  • I have also tried baking the jam using regular balsamic instead of the white variety, and the taste was incredibly too acidic for my taste.
  • Both dishes can be made 3-4 days in advance of serving.