Savory Spreads for Every Meal-MainPhoto

Savory Spreads for Every Meal-MainPhoto
I can’t help it. I love onions. I am not really into raw onions, but I could have them with nearly everything when they are tender and caramelized. Yes, including my breakfast on toasted buttery whole grain bread, or over warm biscuits and shortcakes. A few months ago, I shared a picture of onion marmalade on Facebook. Some asked me how could I possibly like onion marmalade. Easy!

Onions are loaded with natural sugars and when cooked slowly we give them the opportunity to naturally release those sugars to create a special sweet as well as savory taste—perfect for Sweet & Savory Spreads. When it comes to onions I pick the sweetest ones by nature like Vidalia onions and leeks.

For a kick, I add in some chives and green onions. And since I’ve been having a summer affair with chipotle after my trips to Arizona and New Mexico, I can’t help but add a touch of that as well.

It just takes it to another level; the combination of sweet and spicy wakes up all your senses and will keep you salivating for more!

Read Related: The Sour Sweet Tang of Kimchi & Sauerkraut

Onion jam

Yields: Over 2 cups

2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil or extra virgin organic coconut oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled, minced or mashed
3 lbs. sweet Vidalia onions, thinly sliced
3 leeks, green parts removed, thoroughly washed, cut lengthwise in half and sliced
Sea salt (or Kosher) and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 to 2 bunches green onions, tops and roots removed, washed and sliced
1 shallot, minced
2 TSP chipotle sauce, or ½ TSP chipotle chile powder, or 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, chopped or 1 dried chipotle chile, rehydrated and minced*  (You can vary the amount may vary depending on how spicy you like it.)
Splash of balsamic vinegar or good quality, full-bodied red wine
1 TBSP of raisins, optional
2 TSP fresh thyme leaves, optional
Fresh chives, chopped, optional


  1. Preheat a large non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Once hot, add the oil. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, for about 2 minutes until light golden.
  2. Add the onions and leeks and stir to coat with the oil. Let them cook, stirring often, for about 5 to 7 minutes or until softened and limp. Add a generous pinch of salt. Stir again, and add the green onions and shallots. Cover, reduce the heat to low and let them cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the chipotle and a generous splash of balsamic vinegar or red wine, stir again. Cover and let them cook for another 25-30 minutes over low heat or until very so
  4. If you are using the raisins, add them now. Add the thyme and chives, if using. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning
  5. Cover and cook for another 15-20 minutes until sweet,  caramelized and golden. If there is any liquid remaining in the pan, cook uncovered until is gone.

*A Note on Chiles: To rehydrate, cover chile with hot water for 10 minutes and let stand at room temperature. Drain and seed chile, if desired. And remember to always wear rubber gloves when handling hot chiles. When adding the chipotle, you can vary the amount depending on how spicy you like it.

You can prepare this marmalade ahead of time. It keeps well refrigerated and freezes well too. It also makes a delicious gift! Enjoy it day and night—on your morning or afternoon crepes, or as an appetizer on blini or crackers,  perhaps with creme fraiche or mascarpone whipped with fresh herbs, or on bruschetta. Try it as a sandwich or wrap spread or as side dish with your summer grill!


Speaking of non-traditional breakfast items and sweet & savory spreads, I thought about incorporating bacon into a jam. After all, why not? And it’s very easy to make. Since I love making my friends and people happy with my food, I made this for a friend of mine who is already a pork-lover and needless to say, he found another reason to fall in love with pork fat all over again. I like using pancetta instead of bacon which is just a matter of taste, so use whichever you like better. Don’t get intimidated by the list of ingredients, once you get all your ingredients prepped and  together, it’s effortless cooking!

About 2 cups

1½ lb slab bacon (or pancetta), cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large sweet Vidalia onions, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, peeled and minced or mashed
1 shallot, minced
½ cup espresso coffee or dark roast (you can also use instant espresso)
½ cups water
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup maple syrup, preferably organic or agave nectar
2 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder or raw Mexican cocoa powder
1½ TBSP of honey
1 TSP paprika
1 TSP cinnamon
½ TSP crushed red pepper
½ TSP allspice, or garam masala for an Indian taste
1 TSP chili powder or 1 chipotle chile in adobe sauce, chopped
Pinch of cayenne pepper, optional
Pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Heat a large heavy non-stick skillet to medium and add bacon. Cook slowly until crispy, about 25 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan and place drain on paper towels to absorb the fat.
  2. Return the bacon fat in the pan to medium-low heat and add onions, garlic and shallot. Cook, stirring occasionally until fragrant and transparent, about 15-20 minutes.
  3. Return bacon to pan and add the coffee and all remaining ingredients except for the salt. Bring to a low simmer, reduce heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 90 minutes or until thickened like jam. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Remember the jam already contains salt from the bacon.
  4. Remove from heat and let cool. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the jam to the bowl of a food processor. Process until the desired consistency.

Note:  This jam keeps well in the refrigerator and freezes well too.