caramelized onion salad

We've officially started the 2014/15 season here at the Staatsballett.

[We began with two shows of John Cranko's "Onegin" last week and ended this week with a performance of the Ratmansky/Welch program, consisting of Alexei Ratmansky's "Namouna", and Stanton Welch's "Clear".]

I've been hugely enjoying being back on stage.

I had a moment on stage the other day where I forgot how ordinary it is for us as performers to dance in grand theaters, wear interesting costumes, and work amongst so many beautiful people. I suddenly saw my world through the eyes of what we ballet dancers call "a normal person", i.e. a non-dancer, and realized what a truly magical world it is that I exist in.

Of course the effortless grace synonymous with ballet only comes with practice, practice, and more practice. This means long days of rehearsals, and long nights of performances. 

That's why, this week, I'm sharing my recipe for a beautiful salad of caramelized onion and roasted sweet potato with you. Something to make yourself after a tiring week or to share with your loved ones: we work so hard, we deserve to enjoy some good food. Don't we?

Inspired by autumnal flavors and colors, this salad is hearty, sweet, and a bit nutty. It's easily transportable, versatile and will keep well in any condition, so please do yourself a favor and make this salad already!

(I'm not going to lie - this salad isn't as easy as your standard chop&toss, but the taste makes up for the extra time and washing up a hundred times over.)


I created this recipe for my wonderful friend Callie who celebrated her birthday this weekend. She makes my Pumpkin Hummus on a weekly basis - likely making her Ballerina Chef's most fervent follower.

We bonded through our mutual love for good food, and stayed friends through our mutual knack for kookiness.

Inspired by Callie and her favorite foods, Callie's exact words after trying this recipe were, "It's sweet, saucy, and a bit nutty... Just like me!"

Happy birthday Callie!

If you make this salad, promise me one thing - find 20 minutes of time to properly caramelize some onions. They get so tender and sweet. I promise it's worth it. 

Here's a list of things to do if you get bored whilst caramelizing onions:

  1. Check Instagram.
  2. Read a magazine. And try really hard to not get food on it.
  3. Watch an episode of The Great British Bake-Off.
  4. Try and photoshop lilac hair on to your head to see if you could pull it off.
  5. Practice twerking... ?!
  6. Perfect the skill of #selfie taking.
  7. Clean your kitchen. JK. Who am I kidding.

Just don't forget to keep stirring.

Caramelized Onion Salad

**Serves two as a light lunch**

2 medium/large yellow onions
1 medium sweet potato
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1/4 cup parsley, roughly chopped

1 heaped spoonful of tahini, about 1.5 tbs
juice of 1/4 lemon
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F.
Halve the onions and chop the halves into chunky slices. Caramelizing the onions will break them down quite a bit, and you don't want to end up with mush.
Heat some oil in a medium-sized pan and cook the onions over a medium heat along with a pinch of salt. Stir the onions occasionally. They will be done when caramelization in the form of medium brown coloring has developed.
Whilst the onions are cooking, wash and cut the sweet potato in to 2-cm cubes. Don't worry about peeling the skin.
Toss the sweet potato in a large roasting tray with a lashing of olive oil and a pinch of salt and black pepper. Make sure the cubes are not crowded and that they have space to roast.
Put the roasting try in to the oven on a middle rack and bake for 30 minutes, taking the tray out and giving the sweet potatoes a good shuffle halfway through before placing back in the oven.
After the 30 minutes, turn the broiler on and put the sweet potatoes back in the oven on a high rack.
Broil for a few minutes. Keep an eye on the sweet potatoes so that they don't burn. You just want a bit of extra color.
Add the caramelized onions and roasted sweet potatoes to a large mixing bowl.
Place your chopped walnuts on to the same roasting tray that you used for the sweet potatoes and toast them in the residual heat of the oven for a few minutes.
Pour some boiling water over your frozen peas and let it sit for a few minutes to defrost.
Add the parsley, walnuts and peas to the bowl of onions and sweet potato. Toss!

To make the tahini dressing, combine the tahini with the lemon juice. Don't worry if it seizes up.
Mix a few tablespoons of water in to the tahini mixture, add the smoked paprika and season to taste. It should be a loose mixture.

Plate up the veggie mixture and drizzle with the tahini dressing. Garnish with a few parsley leaves.

Instagram [#ballerinachef] and enjoy!

Happy Sunday!


xx p

© 2014 The Ballerina Chef