Caramelized Red Onion Relish


Kelly Rossiter Photo
Kelly Rossiter

Difficulty Level Easy

After my initial worries about preserving food, I have decided that I quite like doing it. My cupboard is starting to fill up with those jars and I'm feeling quite the little homemaker. Since I made my strawberry jam, I have made saskatoon berry jam from the saskatoons I got at the farmers' market and yesterday I made a foray into relish making. As usual, I was looking for something easy to make and I found it in this caramelized red onion relish. It looked like something I could whip up on a rainy afternoon without too much trouble and it was really delicious. The recipe only makes 2 cups and it says it's so good that you won't keep the jars long enough to need the processing, just stick it in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. I doubled the recipe, so I did process it, but I see the author's point, it could be quite addictive.

We were invited to dinner at our cottage neighbours' home and I was asked to bring the appetizer. I thought this relish would be a great base for a little flatbread pizza. Our small town grocery store had tortillas, so that's what I tried. I just spread a little olive oil over the tortilla and then spread some of the relish over the whole thing. Then I topped one with goat cheese and fresh thyme and the other with cheddar and fresh basil. I don't have an oven at the cottage, so I barbequed them, which amused my hosts. I lit all four burners on the barbeque, then turned two burners off once it was hot and placed the tortillas off the heat and when the cheese was melted, slid them over to the lit burners to crisp up the tortillas. They were a big hit, and I would definitely make them again.

Unlike a lot of relishes and chutneys which have many ingredients and a complex flavour, this has a very simple, straightforward taste. It would work on burgers, both meat and vegetarian. You could serve it with grilled beef or chicken, or put it on top of grilled vegetables or use it in a sandwich. If you are going to process this, please check out the procedure in my earlier posts for Preserving the Harvest.


2 large red onions, peeled
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup dry red wine
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/8 tsp each salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. Slice onions into very thin slices. Combine onions and sugar in a heavy non-stick skillet. Cook, uncovered, over medium-high heat for about 25 minutes or until onions turn golden and start to caramelize, stirring frequently.
  2. Stir in wine and vinegar. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated, stirring frequently. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Remove jars from canner and ladle relish into jars to within 1/2 inch of the rim. Process for 10 minutes for half-pint jars.

    From The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard

This recipe appears in: Vegetable Side Dish
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