Last week, we gave you alternatives to traditional Thanksgiving sides like sweet potatoes, green beans, and cranberries. Here's another: pearl onions. If your only encounters with pearl onions have been the creamed or defrosted-from-a-box-of-frozen-peas variety, the appeal of those little white orbs might have eluded you. But these five updated, jewel-toned recipes are sure to put pearl onions in a whole new light.
Ranging in color from white to red to yellow, pearl onions are small (about an inch in diameter), mild, and sweet. Usually eaten whole, they can be glazed, roasted, sautéed, added to stews, pickled, and, yes, creamed. Here's the shortlist of recipes we're considering for this Thanksgiving. Do you have any others to share?
• 1 Glazed Pearl Onions in Port with Bay Leaves, from Bon Appétit. We're pretty sure anything would taste good glazed in Port, brown sugar, and balsamic vinegar.
• 2 Glazed Pearl Onions and Grapes, from Gourmet. Red grapes are an unusual, juicy addition to this side dish.
• 3 Curried Creamed Onions, from Saveur. These creamed onions are anything but lackluster with the addition of curry powder and Tabasco.
• 4 Gratineed Mustard Creamed Onions, from Gourmet. We hesitated to include another creamed onion recipe, but this one has received rave reviews.
• 5 Cranberry, Quince, and Pearl Onion Compote, from Gourmet. Pearl onions and cranberry relish get updated with this gorgeous recipe.
Tip: Pearl onions must be peeled before cooking. The trick to removing their papery skins is to place them in boiling water for a minute, then transfer them to a bowl of ice water. Trim the ends with a knife and slip off the skins.
Related: Recipe: Confetti Potatoes and Pearl Onions
(Images: Tim Morris/Bon Appétit, Roland Bello/Gourmet, James Oseland/Saveur, Ditte Isager/Gourmet, John Kernick/Gourmet)