Creamed pearl onions. I hated them as a kid and love them as an adult who finally wised up. Creamed pearl onions are an earthy, sweet addition to a Thanksgiving turkey or a Christmas roast, but there is no rule you can’t enjoy them year round. And these are made with absolutely no dairy. Read on for my secret to a creamy sauce.
Creamed Pearl Onions – Gluten and Dairy free
Creamed pearl onions were a mandatory side dish on my family’s holiday menu. My mom used to make them with a canned white sauce (shudder), until I grew up, wised up, read the label, and said mom, really? Then she started making them with homemade white sauce with white flour, butter and milk. But going gluten-free meant no white flour.
Coconut Milk Magic
My secret to a creamy sauce is whole coconut milk. So before you stop reading because you think you hate coconut, read on. There is no coconut taste in these creamed pearl onions. None. I had several people taste them. They loved them. I asked, do you taste coconut? They looked at me, like what? Of course not. You won’t taste the coconut. You just get to enjoy a rich and creamy sauce that is ridiculously easy to make. No white flour, no dairy, no kidding.
How to Peel Pearl Onions
Fill a medium pot (4-5 quart) 3/4 full with water and bring to a boil. Drop in pearl onions and cook for 3 minutes. While they are boiling, get a big bowl out, fill half way with ice and water to create an ice bath. After 3 minutes, remove the onions from the pot to the ice bath. Allow onions to cool for a few minutes, then drain. To peel, slice off the root end of the onion and slip off the outer skin. Dump the cooking water.
Make the Sauce
Pour a cup of full fat coconut milk into a smaller pan. For coconut milk, I buy Native Forest. It’s organic and in a BPA-free can. You can find it for a great price in Thrivemarket.com. If you are sensitive to gums, try the can labeled Simple. Bring the coconut milk to a boil and add a cornstarch slurry. So what’s A slurry? It’s a way to thicken a liquid. Here’s how to make one.
Add organic cornstarch to cold water to make a thick, smooth paste. Organic is important, so it is non-GMO. Next, whisk the slurry into the hot coconut milk. Whisk until smooth and thickened. It’s important to use cold water with cornstarch, then into a boiling or simmering liquid, or it won’t work as well.
Finish the Sauce
Add salt, white pepper, and granulated or a clove or two of fresh, finely minced garlic to the sauce. Cook for a minutes or two, then add the peeled onions. A little Balsamic vinegar is nice too. Add grated nutmeg to finish, and if you enjoy dairy, a little Parmesan is pretty good too. That’s it.
Make them a Day Ahead
To save time, you can make the onions a day or two ahead of time and heat them for your holiday dinner. Use a small pan over low heat, covered, or put them in a dish in the oven, covered, until they are hot. For another version, try this recipe for pearl onions with brown butter and Balsamic glaze.
Creamed Pearl Onions
- 1 1/2 pounds pearl onions
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 1/2 tablespoons water
- 1 cup full fat canned coconut milk
- Sea salt
- White pepper or black, but the white disappears nicely
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1-2 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar or Balsamic syrup
- 1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese or vegan cheesy sprinkle
- Fill a medium pot (4-5 quart) 3/4 full with cold water and bring to a boil. Drop in pearl onions and cook for 3 minutes. While they are boiling, get a big bowl out, fill half way with ice and water to create an ice bath. After 3 minutes, drain the onions and place in the ice bath. Allow then to cool for a few minutes, then drain. To peel, slice off the root end of the onion and slip off the outer skin.
- Add cornstarch and water to a small bowl and stir until smooth. Add coconut milk to a smaller pot (about 3 quarts) and bring to a boil. When milk is boiling, add the cornstarch and whisk into the milk. The coconut milk should start to thicken up. Cook for about 1 minute to get rid of any raw taste. Turn heat to low and add onions, salt, pepper, garlic, Balsamic and thyme. Cook onions, covered for a few minutes until onions are tender when pierced through. Add nutmeg to serve and Parmesan (optional)