The Cippolini onions in the box were my highlight this week. I should have double my order so I could have done a simple roasted onion with balsamic glaze, one of my favorites, but since I only had the half pound I decided they needed some company. Two other items immediately jumped to the forefront – lovely button-sized Cremini mushrooms and one thick-walled and perfect red pepper.

I think the most used pan in my arsenal is the oldest and the simplest. A heavy cast iron pan I picked up in Alaska with no brand on it – I think it used to have a number stamped in the bottom that is now completely unrecognizable under the layer of char. I also have a flat skillet that was my mother’s first gift to me when I moved out of the house.

I use these pans almost daily. For those of you that haven’t discovered the magic of a well-seasoned cast iron pan I would suggest buying one. They’re cheap and after a few good seasonings they become as non-stick as any teflon pan on the market (just don’t ever wash it with soap, or put it in the dishwasher or you’ll be back to square one).

In our new house we don’t have the luxury of a gas stove – I know. Believe me it pains me daily. On our old gas stove I loved roasting red peppers directly over the flames, getting an even coating of black and a deep roasted flavor. Not to be deterred by this lack of convenience, I turned to my ever handy cast iron pan and dry roasted the pepper there, surrounded by quarters of Cippolini onions all merrily browning away.

Dry roasting vegetables really let’s their true flavors shine. Instead of softening and mellowing under the gentle transfer of heat through oils it directly caramelizes the vegetables itself giving it an intense and satisfying flavor. Combining this method with the steakhouse-style oven roasted mushrooms resulted in one of the best and simplest Cippolini dishes yet, perfect for a quick starter with a few slices of bread and some hard cheese.

1/2 pound Cremini mushrooms
1/2 pound Cippolini onions, peeled and quartered
1 large red pepper
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 T fresh rosemary, minced
1 t fresh thyme, minced
1 T capers
1 1/2 T butter
2 T olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 T fresh parsley, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bring a dry heavy-bottomed pan up to medium-high heat and place whole pepper on pan in the center with onions face down around, spaced evenly. Roast for 2-3 minutes on each side or until evenly browned.

In a medium casserole dish toss mushrooms, garlic, herbs, oil butter and capers. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add roasted onions, toss to coat and place in the oven on a middle rack. Continue roasting the red pepper until evenly charred, then place in a plastic bag or wrap in a dishtowel to sweat for a few minutes.

Remove and place under running cold water, removing charred skin, stem and inner veins. Slice into strips and add to mushroom onion mixture, tossing to coat. Continue roasting until mushrooms are brown and tender, about 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, season to taste and serve.

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