Johnny Onions

December 16, 2012

johnny onionsAt this time of year I always get a visit from Johnny Onions.  Johnny Onions is a Frenchman (not always the same one) in a beret who sells onions from a bicycle.  The onions come in a long, fat rope that you can hang up in the kitchen.  They’re really good – very fresh, not dried out like most supermarket onions, with a slight pinkish tinge.  The sellers come from Brittany and Normandy, I’m told, and bring the onions over directly after the harvest.  Apparently most of the sellers stopped coming over to Britain in the 1970s, but they’re still a common sight in Cardiff at the beginning of winter. Today I made a ratatouille with them for lunch.


According to Nigel Slater, the trick with ratatouille is to fry each of the vegetables separately on the hob (first the onions, then the aubergines, courgettes, peppers) before laying them together in a roasting dish with some sliced fresh tomatoes and putting them in the oven for about forty minutes.  He says they are much tastier if you do it this way, as all the flavours are distinct – he’s right. Though it’s more like roasted veg than ratatouille.


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