Driving to a wedding in the New England countryside a few hours from the airport, I was treated to its startling springtime skies. While much of the country is already warm and leafy (I know some areas are still deep in snow) New England is barely rubbing the winter sleep from its eyes. The blue of the sky is not as sapphire as summertime, instead a slightly dusky version of it, as if expecting the sun to suddenly set. It could be because of the cerise, peach, and lavender flowering trees with leaves barely budding on the branch. Or the tender spring grasses just peeking out between rocks where dandelions, as tough as fighters in a ring, have already taken hold. Whatever causes it, that rare blue is a hallmark of spring in these parts.
Chefs make use of the tiny, tender things that emerge from the earth. Lettuces and onions. Especially the spring onions that taste nearly sweet when cooked in butter. A chef might present them as a side dish or into a custard for a luncheon main course. Then, place some of the tiny sprouts on the side as a reminder. Below is an onion pie using ingredients available in springtime in this region. It is hardly original to the world as it has cousins in the culinary world, most notably in the Alsace region of France. That is not to say that this one is not superb.
DANVERS ONION TART Danvers, on Massachusetts North Shore, is a town of gently rolling hills and farms can still be found among sprawling strip malls, was once called “Onion Town” for its miles and miles of onion farms. Hatfield, in the central part of the state, more bucolic, was also known for its onion fields, and was given the same nickname.
2 cups chopped yellow onions
3 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
¾ cup grated Parmesan – or mixture of NE cheeses
1 prepared piecrust