Grilled Onions with Chile-Nut Puree

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These grilled onions make me  think of Mexico and cebollitas (little onions), nestled in embers, turning buttery soft with a rich, smoky flavor. I like to wrap the charred tail around the bulb like wrapping string around a ball, then I scrape it through the flavorful paste and pop it in my mouth whole.


2 red bell peppers
1 tomato, halved lengthwise
1/2 onion
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 ancho chile, halved, stemmed and seeded
3 chile morro (or 2 dried chipotles), halved, stemmed and seeded
1/4 cinnamon stick
3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
3/4 ounce peanuts, (about 3 tablespoons)
1/4 teaspoon cumin
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
2 pounds spring onions, cleaned, greens kept on
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar

On a medium-high grill or over an open flame, roast bell pepper until flesh is completely charred, 12-15 minutes. Transfer to a paper bag until cool enough to handle, then peel, stem and seed. Place roasted peppers in the bowl of a food processor.

Heat a large skillet to medium and toast tomato, onion and garlic. Turn every few minutes to char all surfaces, about 5 minutes total, and transfer to food processor. Flatten chiles onto the skillet and toast for 30 seconds on both sides, until shiny and fragrant (be careful not to scorch). Transfer to the bowl. Add cinnamon stick and pumpkin seeds to the skillet, and transfer to the bowl when toasted and fragrant. Add peanuts, cumin and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the mixture and process until a coarse paste.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and when oil is hot, add puree (be careful; puree may splatter at first). Fry sauce for 5 minutes, until darkened a shade and thickened. Remove from heat, stir in vinegar and transfer to a serving bowl.

Toss green onions with remaining teaspoon oil and salt and grill for 5-8 minutes, turning often, until charred but not burnt on all sides. Serve with Chile-Nut Puree.

Serves 4

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